The Untold Truth Of Jennifer Aniston

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Jennifer Aniston enjoyed 10 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 Bosses," "Marley & Me," "Just 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 the success of "Friends" 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.

Her 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.

She 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.

She 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 the popularity of "Friends," 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."

The actress 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."

Her 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."

She's a sleepwalker who used to set off her home security alarms

Even though Jennifer Aniston has been in the public eye since the 1990s, throughout the ensuing decades she's continued to make headlines by sharing secrets about her personal life. That was the case in the spring of 2022, when she revealed she had once struggled with sleepwalking. 

Speaking with People, Aniston recalled the debilitating insomnia she endured in her 30s. For Aniston, the paradox was that the harder she tried to fall asleep, the more difficult it became, leading to many a sleepless night. She initially didn't really suffer much impact from losing all that sleep, she explained, "because we're so invincible" at a younger age. While her insomnia was something she used to just accept as a part of life, as she grew older she came to "realize the effects of your lack of sleep and how it affects your day and your work and your mind function and your physique," she added. 

That acute level of sleep-deprivation led her to begin sleepwalking. "I've been woken up by house alarms going off that I've set off." That no longer happens anymore, she revealed, because she is in a better place regarding her insomnia. "... that was when I was super sleep deprived," she said. 

She's lost friends due to their stance on vaccination

Jennifer Aniston has been a staunch proponent of the COVID-19 vaccine, something that placed her in the midst of a political battle between the pro- and anti-vaccination camps. "You know, someone literally called me a 'liberal Vax-hole' the other day," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I don't understand the disconnect right now, being bullied for wanting people not to be sick? I mean, that's what we're talking about."

Aniston also discussed anti-vaxxers in an interview with InStyle, decrying them as people who "just don't listen to the facts." As she revealed, she'd actually "lost a few people in my weekly routine" because they refused to be vaccinated or wouldn't reveal whether or not they had been, something she admitted was "a real shame." 

While Aniston conceded it was "unfortunate" that those people are no longer a part of her life, she also insisted that everyone has a "moral and professional obligation to inform" others about their vaccination status. "It's tricky because everyone is entitled to their own opinion — but a lot of opinions don't feel based in anything except fear or propaganda," she added.

She found the Friends reunion so emotionally taxing she had to walk out more than once

When the long-awaited, pandemic-delayed "Friends" reunion finally premiered on HBO Max in 2021, fans of the beloved sitcom finally got the cast catch-up they'd been awaiting for nearly 20 years. For Aniston, the experience of reuniting with her former co-stars was something about which she had mixed feelings. 

"Time travel is hard," Aniston admitted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, describing the experience of revisiting her past. Initially, she recalled being "so naive" thinking how much fun she and the rest of the cast would have visiting with each other within the original sets that had been painstakingly reconstructed. What she hadn't counted on was that painful memories would be exhumed along with the good ones.

Aniston recalled the experience: "... it was like, 'Hi, past, remember me? Remember how that sucked? You thought everything was in front of you and life was going to be just gorgeous and then you went through maybe the hardest time in your life?'" In fact, it occasionally became too much for her. "I had to walk out at certain points," she confessed. "I don't know how they cut around it."

She's embraced being a late bloomer

In late 2021, Jennifer Aniston was honored at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Women in Entertainment gala. In her acceptance speech, reported THR, Aniston looked back on being a struggling 19-year-old actress in NYC, waiting tables "and auditioning for every off, off, off, off, not-even-close-to-Broadway show." What would she have thought, she mused, if her younger self found out she'd one day be accepting the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award (the award established in the name of the former Paramount CEO)? "I would've looked at them like they were crazy and said, 'Who's Sherry Lansing?'" Aniston quipped.

During her speech, Aniston recalled a numerologist once informing her that her numbers indicated she was a "late bloomer." According to Aniston, she initially balked at that label, which she immediately felt was akin to being "an underachiever who hadn't tried hard enough to reach her potential."

As she thought it through, she explained, that notion began to appeal to her. "Maybe I haven't done my best work yet, as an artist or as a human being," Aniston said. "Maybe I am just beginning. So, I started to embrace this idea of being a 'late bloomer' ... of, just beginning."

She once considered quitting acting to become an interior designer

While the very idea of a massively successful actor walking away from Hollywood to embark on an entirely different career seems absurd, it's something that Jennifer Aniston genuinely considered. In a 2020 conversation with fellow actors Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes on their "SmartLess" podcast, Aniston revealed she'd given some serious thought to packing it in and becoming an interior designer. "I would have to say the last two years that has crossed my mind," said Aniston (via ET Canada) "which it never did before."

According to Aniston, her involvement in an "unprepared project" had "sucked the life out of me." The experience led her to reflect on acting, and she admitted to thinking, "I don't know if this is what interests me." Interior design, on the other hand, had always been her "happy place;" in fact, in a 2018 profile in Architectural Digest, she declared, "If I wasn't an actress, I'd want to be a designer. I love the process. There's something about picking out fabrics and finishes that feeds my soul."

Ultimately, she signed on to "The Morning Show," with the experience reigniting her passion for acting.

She always wanted to play Wonder Woman but 'waited too long'

Any successful actors worth their salt can point to parts they really wanted to play that wound up going to somebody else. For Jennifer Aniston, the role that got away was an iconic female superhero.

Following her win at the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards for her performance in "The Morning Show," Aniston was asked what she still felt she needed to accomplish career-wise. "I wanted to be Wonder Woman," said Aniston, "but I waited too long" (via Variety). Continuing her answer, Aniston didn't point to any specific project, but felt she still had "a lot to do." Explaining she felt she was just hitting her "creative stride," she admitted she had recently rediscovered her love of acting "in a new way that I didn't know that I had before so I almost have new eyes that I'm seeing what it is that I do as an actor."

However, she also indicated that, after showing viewers her dramatic chops on "The Morning Show," she was ready to return to her roots. "I want to do more comedies," she declared. "I want to have some laughter."