The untold truth of Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston enjoyed ten seasons as Rachel Green on Friends, and, during the show's run, she and her co-stars were among the highest-paid TV actors of all time, raking in $1 million per episode each. After the series ended, the actress launched a successful movie career that's spanned decades, characterized by such hits as Horrible BossesMarley & MeJust Go With It, and We're the Millers

The year 2019 saw Aniston return to television to co-star with Reese Witherspoon in the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. The role earned Aniston an even higher salary than she got on Friends, along with some of the best reviews of her career. In fact, the role of morning TV host Alex Levy won her a Screen Actor's Guild Award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series, giving her something to place on the shelf next to her 2002 Friends Emmy for lead actress in a comedy series.

Sure, Jennifer Aniston is one of the most famous and most recognizable people on the planet, but there's still plenty to learn about this beloved actress. Read on to explore the untold truth of Jennifer Aniston. 

How Jennifer Aniston really felt about "the Rachel" haircut

One unexpected byproduct of Friends' success was the popularity of the hairstyle worn by Jennifer Aniston's character, a 'do that came to be known as "the Rachel." The look was created by hairstylist Chris McMillan, who told The Telegraph that he advised Aniston to grow, highlight, and experiment with her hair when he first met her. He chopped off some length and added layers, ultimately creating one of the most iconic haircuts of the time.

But Aniston was not as enamored with her hair as the rest of the world was. "I love Chris, and he's the bane of my existence at the same time because he started that damn Rachel, which was not my best look," she told Allure in 2011, confessing that "it was the ugliest haircut I've ever seen."

It was also difficult to maintain. Calling the hairstyle "cringe-y," Aniston told Glamour that she "couldn't do it on my own" without McMillan working his magic. "Left to my own devices, I am not skilled with a hairbrush and blow-dryer," she quipped.

Jennifer Aniston's first media appearance was to promote this product on on a popular radio show

Jennifer Aniston's first media appearance was on The Howard Stern Show in 1989 — not to promote an acting role, but to sell weight-loss products. At the time, she was working for NutriSystem, which promoted her as a "success story" after she shed 15 pounds following the company's diet plan. Notably, NutriSystem was one of the radio show's sponsors.

According to a transcript from her visit to the show reported by Us Weekly, host Howard Stern told the not-yet-famous Aniston she was "very lovely" and praised her "very sensual pout" and "full" chest. She held her own, deftly sidestepping questions about when she'd lost her virginity and politely declining his suggestion that she pose for Playboy.

Thirty years later, Aniston returned to the show as Stern's pal, having vacationed with him and other friends in early 2014. In the interview, she shared her recollection of that earlier appearance. All she could really remember was what she was wearing that day: white Reebok high-top sneakers, a tank top, and khaki shorts. She also recalled being greeted with "jungle cries," which she assumed was because there was "a safari vibe to what I was wearing."

Jennifer Aniston's actor father begged her not to enter showbiz

Jennifer Aniston's parents are both actors. Her father, John Aniston, is best known for portraying Victor Kiriakis on NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, a role he first started playing in 1985. Aniston's late mother, Nancy Dow, boasted TV credits in such series as The Beverly Hillbillies and The Wild Wild West. In an interview with Collider, Aniston recalled being a child and seeing her dad on the TV sitcom That Girl, feeling "overwhelmed that my father was in the television set because I wasn't quite sure what he did, at that point."

When Aniston decided she wanted to pursue a career as an actor, she admitted she was determined though her father pled with her to do something else with her life. "He said, 'I do not want your heart broken. The rejection is brutal. Please, please, please don't do that. Become a lawyer,'" she recalled.

Aniston ignored that advice, admitting that was her "one rebellion" against her parents. "I just had this deep feeling in my gut that somehow something was going to happen, and I just had to be patient," she explained.

Jennifer Aniston worked these jobs before her acting career took off

Making it in showbiz takes some serious tenacity and a very thick skin, and Jennifer Aniston's success did not happen overnight. Like many struggling wannabe actors, she worked at an assortment of different jobs to support herself while she hit audition after audition in search of the big role that would launch her career and set her on the road to stardom.

"I worked at an advertising agency, as a receptionist," she told Collider, adding that she also worked as a bicycle messenger in New York City — a job that lasted all of two days. Though she was great at flying down the street, she apparently wasn't the best at finding her way to drop-off locations, as she told The Mirror in an interview, jokingly apologizing "for all those envelopes and packages that arrived late."

While Aniston said she enjoyed her brief time riding around on her bike, she did not care much for one of her other jobs. Waitressing, she insisted, was her least favorite of all the various jobs she had before becoming famous, confessing that waiting tables was "the worst job I ever had."

Jennifer Aniston looked like a "goth nightmare" in high school

It is a rare and special person who can, later in life, look back at teenage photos without cringing and wondering, "What the heck was I thinking?" Jennifer Aniston is no different, revealing in an interview with People that she went through a bit of a goth phase during her teenage years.

"High school was tragic," she joked in the interview, which ironically was for a cover story declaring her to be the "World's Most Beautiful Woman" of 2016. "You know, you're experimenting," she explained. "It was the '80s and I looked like a goth nightmare." As she admitted, she wasn't trying to look drop-dead gorgeous at the time, but rather "the most rebelliously unattractive."

Learning about fashion and finding her style was something of a process, she confessed, referencing her 1990s "mom jean look" with a laugh. "Big blousy blouses with a big chunky belt," she said of her style during that decade. "And remember the Western cowboy shoe? I thought I was coo-ool."

The sneaky way NBC locked Jennifer Aniston into Friends

When producers of NBC's Friends cast Jennifer Aniston, they knew they had found their Rachel. But there was one not-so-small problem, reported Entertainment Weekly in its excerpt of the book Generation Friends.

Prior to landing her Friends role, Aniston had shot a few episodes of a CBS sitcom called Muddling Through that never made it onto the schedule. When CBS decided to burn off those unaired episodes on Saturday nights, this presented the possibility Muddling Through could draw enough viewers to entice CBS to produce more. Since Aniston was in first position for that show, if Muddling Through was picked up, Friends would need to recast her role and reshoot the pilot for a show NBC felt had "hit" written all over it.

Unwilling to take a risk, then-NBC president Warren Littlefield issued a two-word order: "Kill it." An exec hatched a plan: Unaired TV movies based on popular Danielle Steel novels, which would have drawn far bigger ratings on another night, were aired on Saturdays opposite Muddling Through. This sacrificial-lamb strategy worked; the Danielle Steel movies did the trick, crushing Muddling Through in the ratings. Aniston's problematic show vanished, freeing her for Friends.

The surprising reason Jennifer Aniston turned down Saturday Night Live

Besides Muddling Through, another potential impediment threatened to stand in the way of Jennifer Aniston and her destiny on Friends. Around the same time that she landed the role of Rachel, she received an offer to join the cast of Saturday Night Live.

Aniston and SNL alum Adam Sandler (her co-star in Just Go With It) sat down for an interview for Oprah.com, and, in it, Sandler recalled seeing Aniston in the SNL offices back in the day. "I was like, 'Oh, my God. There's Aniston. Is she about to be on our show?'" According to Aniston, she told Sandler that Michaels wanted her on SNL, but she turned him down.

"I didn't think I would like that environment," Aniston later told Howard Stern of her decision to walk away from SNL. "I remember showing up, and Sandler was there and [David] Spade and I had known them already..." Admitting she had "no memory" of how she wound up meeting with Michaels, Aniston did recall thinking it was a "boy's club," and she talked to him about her expectations of how women should be treated if she joined the cast.

Jennifer Aniston has had a lifelong fear of water

For Jennifer Aniston, a day at the beach is, well, no day at the beach. That's because she has had a lifelong fear of water, stemming from a traumatic childhood accident she's never been able to overcome. While promoting her 2015 film Cake, she told E! News, "I basically have a real fear of going underwater." It all went back, she said, to when she was a child riding a tricycle near a pool and rode it into the water. "I didn't let go and my brother tried to [help me]," she recalled.

This complicated her role in Cake, in which she played a woman who develops an addiction to prescription painkillers after surviving a serious accident, as the character undergoes water therapy. "So, I can't go underwater and no one will believe me," she admitted. "I honestly can't."

She further detailed her phobia in a red carpet interview with ET Canada. Aniston revealed she was terrified of falling into water, saying, "These are rational fears."

The book Jennifer Aniston's mom released caused a years-long rift

At the height of Friends' popularity, Jennifer Aniston's mother, Nancy Dow, wrote a tell-all book about her fraught relationship with her famous daughter. The memoir, From Mother and Daughter to Friends, led to a major rift between Aniston and her mom. Writing about Dow when she passed away in 2016, Us Weekly recalled that she and Aniston stopped speaking for years. In fact, reported Marianne Garvey on VH1's The Gossip Table (via Hollywood Life), Aniston's mom was not invited to the celeb's wedding to Brad Pitt — and she reportedly wasn't invited to Aniston's later wedding to Justin Theroux either, though that hasn't been confirmed.

Aniston admitted her relationship with her mother had been difficult for her entire life. "She was very critical of me. Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn't," Aniston told The Hollywood Reporter. "She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty."

Aniston also revealed her mother "had a temper," while Aniston insisted that she herself is more prone to talk things out calmly. Aniston recalled one particularly vicious argument when she lost control and screamed at her mom, who "looked at me and burst out laughing." Aniston likened it to "a punch in my stomach."

Jennifer Aniston has appeared in three music videos

In addition to her numerous film and television credits, Jennifer Aniston has also appeared in three music videos. The first video appearance came in The Rembrandts' 1995 video for their hit "I'll Be There for You," in which Aniston, sporting sunglasses, bangs a tambourine while she and the rest of the Friends cast dance onstage as the band performs the song that served as the sitcom's theme.

Aniston's second music video appearance came in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Walls," in which she makes a brief cameo in the circus-themed video. Once again, there was a connection to one of her projects, as she was one of the stars of the 1996 film She's the One, for which Petty and the band had composed and performed the soundtrack (via Rolling Stone). 

Aniston can also be seen in Melissa Etheridge's video for her 2001 track "I Want To Be In Love." This time, however, there was no project connected to her appearance; Etheridge was a friend of Aniston's then-husband Brad Pitt, and performed at the couple's wedding, as noted by People. Aniston can be seen in several scenes throughout the video, intercut with footage of Etheridge singing and playing guitar.

Jennifer Aniston has struggled with dyslexia

Dyslexia is an affliction that has affected many celebrities, with ABC News reporting that the likes of director Steven Spielberg, actors Tom Cruise and Keira Knightley, and showbiz icon Cher have all opened up about their own respective struggles with dyslexia. Jennifer Aniston has also gone public about her dyslexia, revealing in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she didn't even know she had dyslexia until she was diagnosed in her early 20s. 

As Aniston recalled, receiving the diagnosis was "life-changing" — because, until discovering she was dyslexic, she simply believed that she "wasn't smart." As she told THR, all her life she had problems with retaining information. When she was finally diagnosed, however, the revelation led her to finally come to understand the underlying cause of issues she'd been experiencing throughout her entire life but had never been able to piece together.

"Now I had this great discovery," she explained. "I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained."

Jennifer Aniston's film debut was in a horror movie about an evil leprechaun

Before Friends, Jennifer Aniston landed a starring role in a 1993 horror film that looked at the scarier side of St. Patrick's Day: Leprechaun, a low-budget slasher film about a homicidal leprechaun who gleefully slaughters anyone standing between him and his missing pot of gold.

Appearing on Howard Stern's radio show in 2019, reported People, Aniston recalled feeling like she had "arrived" when she starred in the critically reviled movie. However, she told Stern she was proud to have appeared in the "cult classic," admitting, "I really did think it was an amazing thing that I was in a movie."

In fact, she also revealed that she and her now former husband Justin Theroux had watched Leprechaun together while they were dating — albeit not by her choice. According to Aniston, the pair were channel-surfing when Theroux came across the film and insisted on watching. "It was one of those things when I tried to get that remote out of his hand and there was just no having it," she said. "He was like, 'No, no, no, no, this is happening.' I just kept walking in and out, cringing."

Jennifer Aniston's relationship with John Mayer reportedly ended because of Twitter

Everyone knows that Jennifer Aniston was married to Brad Pitt. After their split, she later wed Justin Theroux, with the couple mutually ending their relationship a few years later. But in between those unions, Aniston dated musician John Mayer. 

Aniston and Mayer, Marie Claire reminded, met at a 2008 Oscars party and dated for about a year, reportedly breaking up and getting back together a few times. As The Telegraph reported in 2009, the straw that finally broke the camel's back for Aniston was when Mayer told her he was too busy to return her messages while she watched his Twitter updates in real time. "Jen was fuming," a source told The Telegraph, claiming that "he'd update with some stupid line... she was like, 'He has time for all this Twittering, but he can't send me a text, an email, make a call?'"

Finally, Aniston had enough. The source claimed that when she broke it off, "he just said OK, and that he was sorry it didn't work out," adding, "He took the break-up like a man."

Jennifer Aniston split from Brad Pitt... and later reconnected

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston married in 2000 and split in 2005. They issued a statement explaining their separation was the result of "thoughtful consideration" and not "speculation reported by the tabloid media" — presumably that Pitt ran off with co-star Angelina Jolie.

After Pitt's messy split from Jolie, he and Aniston reconnected. According to In Touch, Aniston was reportedly "overcome with emotion" when Pitt met with her to apologize for "everything he put her through." He was subsequently spotted at Aniston's 50th birthday party in early 2019, and then at her holiday bash that December. 

When both won SAG Awards in 2020, Pitt made a wry joke during his acceptance speech, quipping that it was a real stretch to play a "guy who gets high, takes his shirt off, and doesn't get on with his wife" as the camera panned to Aniston in the audience, smiling at him with affection. After they were spotted chatting at the ceremony, Aniston joked about rumors the ex-spouses were resurrecting their romance. "It's hysterical," she told Entertainment Tonight. "But what else are they gonna talk about?"

Why Jennifer Aniston returned to TV with The Morning Show

After Friends ended its run in 2004, Jennifer Aniston left TV for a successful film career. In 2019, she returned to television to co-star with Reese Witherspoon in The Morning Show, a comedy-drama with themes of female empowerment in the #MeToo era, set at a network morning show. This time, Aniston wasn't just acting, but was also executive producing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, both Aniston and Witherspoon were each paid $2 million per episode, with their salaries "said to be even higher with producing fees and ownership points."

A truckload of cash wasn't the only reason behind Aniston's return to television for the first time in 15 years. "It wasn't really about TV versus film," Aniston told Reuters. "It was really the show. ... It was the most rewarding thing I've done in years."

In the series, Aniston played a veteran TV host who finds herself on suddenly shaky ground when her longtime co-host is fired over allegations of sexual misconduct. While her character experiences ageism from the network brass, Aniston admitted that wasn't something she'd experienced. "I haven't necessarily felt that ageism has affected me," she explained to Reuters, "only because I feel like I'm working more than I've ever worked."