Sunday 16 June 2019

So why has it all gone wrong for 'poor Jen'?

Her latest film generated major awards buzz, but Jennifer Aniston missed out on an Oscar nod and this week her risqué SAG awards outfit was heavily criticised by the fash pack. What's a girl to do?

Jennifer Aniston at the Critics Choice Awards
Jennifer Aniston at the Critics Choice Awards
Jennifer Aniston
'The Rachel' hairdo

Rowena Walsh

Jennifer Aniston must have been absolutely sure that 2015 was to be her year. She was going to show all the doom-mongers that 'poor Jen' was anything but.

After months of speculation about the state of her relationship with actor Justin Theroux, she had him standing firmly by her side on the red carpet, she had a huge rock weighing down her left hand (even though their long-anticipated wedding remained on hold) and she was finally going to be feted for her acting chops, rather than her hairstyle. 

Her latest role in the movie Cake as a woman addicted to painkillers had generated serious buzz in the run-up to awards season. And she deserved it. After all, she had to stop exercising for about two-and-a-half months to get sufficiently out of shape for her performance as the dowdy Claire. This was no mean feat for a woman who admits she brings eight-pound weights when she stays at a hotel.

Her victory would be even sweeter considering that Angelina Jolie, who had also been tipped for a directorial award, was left out of the Golden Globes role call.

But while Jen was indeed in the short list for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, she lost out to Julianne Moore. And when the Oscar nominations were announced, there was no mention of Jen (or indeed Angelina). Extreme measures were called for.

She may have dressed down for Cake but, once filming ended, Jen pulled out all the stops to get her usual killer body back. So what better opportunity to show just how sexy she can be than on the red carpet for this week's Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) awards, especially as they were her last hope of winning an award this season?

But the ploy seriously backfired. Her ultra-plunging John Galliano dress showed off every curve, but to many embarrassed onlookers she came across as desperate and went home empty-handed after losing out again to Julianne Moore.

It's all such a far cry from the woman who was ranked number one on the Forbes 2003 Celebrity 100 List, when, according to that magazine, she earned $35m the previous year. Then, she was still basking in the plaudits she had received for her role in dark comedy The Good Girl, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal. And she was one half of Hollywood's golden couple after marrying Brad Pitt.

But when Friends finished in 2004 and then her fairytale marriage floundered amid rumours of Brad's closeness with his Mr & Mrs Smith co-star Angelina, Jen's perfect persona started to crack.

Instead of capitalising on her acting credits after The Good Girl, she took on roles in a succession of forgettable rom-coms, which eerily seemed to mirror her own personal life. She lurched from one relationship to the next, but was never allowed to forget how Brad had left her for the apparently untameable Angelina.

As soon as Jen and Brad divorced in April 2005, they became the stars of their very own soap opera as constant speculation and 'insider' titbits generated numerous magazine covers and column inches.

All the time Jen appeared seemingly desperate to show the world her side of every single story - something she recently alluded to: "I think I used to . . . really, there was a period where I was hellbent on saying, 'That's not true, that's not right, that's not fair'. And now I just think you have to let it roll off your back, and you realise, I think everyone knows it's all BS and like soap opera on paper."

By doing so, she had slowly cemented her reputation - not as a multimillionaire actress to be envied - but as a sad, lonely spinster desperate for children.

And still the public (and publishers) continued to love her as she sold magazine covers by the truckload.

The Jen/Brad/Ange love triangle rolled on and on, and many publishers must have been horrified when last year Jen said she had finally managed to forgive Brad and Angelina. Perhaps even she was ready for a happy ending.

After all, when Jen got engaged again in 2012 after a 15-month relationship with Justin Theroux, the public was overjoyed for her. But years later, the couple seem no closer to getting married, and the actress has even admitted that their close friends are tired of waiting for the big day.

"There was a time when people thought we were going to throw a party and surprise everybody," she said. "We have this couple... every time, they would come over in black tie. It happened at a Fourth of July party. We're all in jean shorts, and they came in going, 'Is it happening?'"

She didn't go so far as to reveal her actual wedding plans, adding: "We do talk about it all the time."

Well, it's good to talk and to forgive, but it must be questionable whether Jen has really forgotten the hurt she felt when Brad and Angelina got together. Certainly her appearance at the Critics Choice awards - the first time the two women attended the same event in six years - suggested that Jen was determined that all eyes would be on her. Her usual 'safe' wardrobe choices were left behind as she wore a plunging Gucci trouser suit in stark contrast to Angelina's demure Versace gown.

She opted for the same sartorial strategy at this week's SAG awards, with strikingly similar décolletage-emphasising jewellery.

She may have the assets, but surely she's beyond the same 'look at me' approach that's been used time and again by wannabe starlets. No wonder the public is getting tired of it, and perhaps even of their beloved Jennifer.

Irish Independent

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