'I Was So Grateful For My Body': Jennifer Aniston Portrays Chronic Pain In Cake, Aniston plays a haunted woman who is suffering from debilitating pain. While Aniston is not actively looking for dramatic roles, she says "comedy and drama go hand in hand."

'I Was So Grateful For My Body': Jennifer Aniston Portrays Chronic Pain

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For most of her career, Jennifer Aniston has played the cute, funny girl next-door.


DAVID SCHWIMMER: (As Ross Geller) What is it?

JENNIFER ANISTON: (As Rachel Green) It's a trifle. It's got all these layers. First, there's a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard, then beef sauteed with peas and onions.


ANISTON: (As Rachel Green) And then bananas. And then I just put some whipped cream on top.

SCHWIMMER: (As Ross Geller) What was the one right before bananas?


ANISTON: (As Rachel Green) The beef. Yeah, that was weird to me, too.

MARTIN: Ah, Rachel Green. Though Aniston is best known for playing characters like Rachel in "Friends," she's also dabbled in independent film. She was in the cult classic "Office Space," and took on a dramatic role in the 2002 film "The Good Girl."

Her latest project signals an even bigger turn for Aniston. The film is called "Cake." And Jennifer Aniston is the star and executive producer. It's a far darker role than she has tackled before. Her character, Claire, is in a support group for people who suffer from chronic pain. In the opening scene, the group counselor is trying to get members to open up about the suicide of another member named Nina. She calls on Claire to share her feelings.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As group counselor) Would you like to say something to Nina?

ANISTON: (As Claire Bennett) No.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As group counselor) It might make you feel better to get in touch with your feelings.

ANISTON: (As group counselor) Well, then in that case, yeah, I do have a question. She jumped off the freeway overpass, right? Specifically where the 110 meets the 105?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As group counselor) Yes, but...

ANISTON: (As Claire Bennett) And is it true that she landed on a flatbed truck that was full of used furniture that was heading to Mexico?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: (As group counselor) Claire, we should be focusing on our feelings.

ANISTON: (As Claire Bennett) And that no one discovered the body until it reached Acapulco. That was, like, more than 2,000 miles away? Way to go Nina. Personally, I hate it when suicides make it easy on their survivors, but please continue.

MARTIN: I spoke with Jennifer Aniston recently about the film "Cake," and where it fits into her career. We started by talking about what kind of preparation she did to play someone suffering from debilitating pain.

ANISTON: It was a lot of studying the back, the leg, the neck. Pretty much every single part of her body hurt. And you really do start to manifest odd little, you know, cricks and pinches in your neck. And every week, I would have some form of bodywork just to sort of make sure my body didn't kind of lock into any of that permanently.

I mean, that's the other thing is, like, doing this and talking to women or men who have - who are suffering from chronic pain on a daily basis, it is so unimaginable. I mean, I was so grateful for my body at the end of the day. You know what I mean?

MARTIN: Little things we take for granted.

ANISTON: The little - exactly. Exactly.

MARTIN: I imagine you are at a stage in your life and career when you can pick your projects.

ANISTON: Well, you can and you can't. The truth is, you become established in a certain category. And I think you are given offers and opportunities based on how the industry sees you fitting into that - that job. And sometimes you have to kind of take the reins yourself or take a project on and get in made independently so that you can do that work that not necessarily another director or studio would see you fit for.

It is, I've said, such a catch-22. It's like I know I can do this, you just have to give me the opportunity. And then they - what comes back is, well, we can't give you the opportunity because we've never seen you do this so...

MARTIN: We obviously know you primarily as a comedic actress, first as Rachel Green on "Friends." When you think back on that chapter, I mean, I know you probably have lots of reflections because it was a long chapter. (Laughter).

ANISTON: It was a long, wonderful chapter; a chapter I miss

MARTIN: Was it mostly wonderful?

ANISTON: Oh, my God, mostly? It was awesome. It was the greatest 10 years. Not only were we having so much fun ourselves, but the amount of love that people felt for that show, still feel for that show, and I think that's so special to be a part of something like that.

MARTIN: You're 45. Am I allowed to say that? Are you...


MARTIN: (Laughter).

ANISTON: That's absolute hogwash.

MARTIN: You have been in this business for more than 20 years. What do you still want? What does contentment look like for you?

ANISTON: I don't set goals like that. You know, I don't really...

MARTIN: Do you not?

ANISTON: No, I don't. I kind of live in the moment, and I don't have a five-year plan. And I don't have an, OK, so what we're going to do now is we're going to go for a character that takes you into a real dark territory. So hopefully you'll be - you know, it's not a strategy. You know what I mean?

MARTIN: You don't set out to play more dramatic roles? Is that something that you want, or you just see what comes to me?

ANISTON: I see what comes to me. I mean, I would love to play more dramatic roles. But I love comedic roles. I love just good material. But I have to - honestly, after doing "Cake," I mean, I feel like I scratched an itch that's been needing to be scratched. And I want, very much, to play really wonderful characters and telling a story, exposing a human experience; comedy or drama or both infused. I mean, I think comedy and drama go hand-in-hand. You know, life isn't one or the other.

MARTIN: Jennifer Aniston. Her new movie is called "Cake." Thank you so much, Jennifer.

ANISTON: Thanks, Rachel.

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