Can any one of us remember a time when Jennifer Aniston wasn’t famous? This actress — who shot to fame after her iconic role as Rachel in Friends — inspired a thousand haircuts before inspiring a thousand “good women” to be their very best.
Sure, Jennifer Aniston hit a bit of a hiccup in her private life when her then-husband, Brad Pitt, left her for Angelina Jolie. Even the late Carrie Fisher pointed out that this love triangle was analogous to the love triangle between her mother (the late Debbie Reynolds), her father (Eddie Fisher), and his new wife (Elizabeth Taylor).
But she got the last laugh, in the end, when she married actor Justin Theroux while her erstwhile husband filed for divorce from Jolie after many years and many kids, over public allegations of cheating (Jennifer was shocked, shocked we tell you!) and abuse.
In honor of her being who she is — which is simply wonderful — we decided to take a look at 15 photos of Jennifer Aniston over the years.
15. Pretty Baby
Who’s that pretty baby? It’s none other than our girl Jennifer Aniston! What most people don’t know is that she’s the daughter of the Greek-born actor John Aniston (whose real name is Giannis Anastasakis), who made his name as Victor Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives. She’s also the daughter of the late American actress Nancy Dow, who only had a brief run in films and television shows.
When Jennifer first became famous for her role as Rachel Green on Friends, she had a very contentious relationship with her mother. This fractured relationship wasn’t helped when, in 1999, she wrote a tell-all book about her daughter called From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir.
However, Jennifer Aniston and her mother reconciled in 2005, right after she got a divorce from Brad Pitt. The relationship was slow to heal, but Aniston said, “It’s been really nice. It’s crazy what, you know, your life kind of being turned upside down will lead you to. For us, it was the time and it was going to happen when it was supposed to happen. So this is good. It’s baby steps.” It’s a good thing that the two mended fences, because Nancy Dow died in 2016.
14. The Beginning
It’s hard to believe that this ordinary girl would grow up to be the infamous Jennifer Aniston we all know and love today, but it’s true. Even at her most “ordinary,” however, it seemed that everyone knew that she would grow up to, one day, take over the world. This photo was taken in 1990, when Aniston was making guest appearances in minor television shows — like the television series based on the Ferris Bueller movies — and in the Leprechaun horror films. You can also see, too, where she’d gotten work done over the years on her face — fortunately for her, she got some of the best plastic surgery in Hollywood, so she looks natural, not garish. Still, with looks like these, you can see how Jennifer Aniston blended in with other struggling actors in Hollywood.
13. “The Rachel” Haircut
Jennifer Aniston was cast as Rachel in Friends in 1994, but it wasn’t until the next year that she cut her hair into the layered bob that you see above, and it created — literally — a hair revolution. Countless women ran to their hairdressers to demand that they get the so-called “Rachel Cut,” no matter if it was flattering to them or not. (To be fair to the women, the hairstyle was cute for most people.) If that isn’t indicative of her star power, nothing is! But that “star power” was nothing compared to the star power that was to come, especially once she linked up with a certain Hollywood hunk and became one-half of the hottest power couple in the world. (Of course, no one could be prepared for what was to come with that pairing, either, but we can’t be accused of not wishing the best for them.)
12. Villainous Roles In Dirt
After the dramatic turns didn’t work out well for the actress formerly known as Rachel, Jennifer Aniston decided to try her hand at being the villain, and she showed she could handle the job quite aptly when she took a guest starring role on Dirt, opposite her former Friends co-star Courteney Cox. In the show, Aniston played Tina Harrod, a rival magazine editor to Cox’s Lucy. This role gave Aniston a whole new set of headlines when it was revealed that Tina and Lucy were former lovers before becoming bitter enemies, and this “frenemy” situation culminated with a kiss between Cox and Aniston. Sexy!
11. The Bob
For the majority of her career, Jennifer Aniston had long hair, even as she slowly transitioned from a hard brunette to a soft blonde. However, in 2001, while at the height of her Friends popularity, she experimented with a sleek, sexy bob. This photo is from the time she won a Peabody Award for her work on Friends, and as you can see, this is definitely one of her more distinguished looks. Unfortunately, she didn’t keep this look, but it’s just as well, because she’s just as known for her flowing locks as she is for her role as Rachel. It’s just as well that she grew this out not long after the photo was taken.
10. The Brad Pitt Years
By the time 1999 rolled around, Jennifer Aniston had grown out her “Rachel” haircut and began dating rising Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt. Pitt was clearly at the height of his gorgeousness when he was with Aniston, and the couple got married about a year later in a wedding that was nothing if not extravagant. Jennifer looked like a million dollars, and their wedding even made the cover of People Magazine! Unfortunately, their wedded bliss ended when Pitt left Aniston for Angelina Jolie after meeting her on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Later, Pitt would go on to say that he was “wasting his time” being married to Jennifer Aniston, which completely blindsided the actress, and she told as much to Oprah Winfrey.
9. We’re The Millers And Pregnancy Rumors
2013’s We’re the Millers was a much better film for Jennifer Aniston, both commercially and critically, and marked her “comeback” for good. And while this was a bit of good news, the bad news was that as her star began to rise, so too did the rumors about her impending “pregnancy” in the tabloid media. This was in no small part thanks to the seemingly burgeoning relationship with The Leftovers actor Justin Theroux — though they began dating in 2011, they were already engaged and living together by the time 2013 came along. This also was around the time that she, once and for all, cleared up the rumors that her refusal to get pregnant and have children was the reason for the demise of her relationship with Brad Pitt. “I’ve never in my life said I didn’t want to have children. I did and I do and I will… I would never give up that experience for a career,” she said.
8. Friends With Money
In 2006, Jennifer Aniston decided to shift gears a little bit and turn towards more dramatic roles. This turn to dramatic roles didn’t exactly get off to a good start, because many people — critics and fans alike — couldn’t suspend reality enough to watch Aniston play the role of a down-on-her-luck single, cash-strapped woman who had to take a job as a maid to make ends meet. This, of course, was in no small part thanks to the knowledge that Aniston would never have to work another day in her life after Friends went into syndication. Even Roger Ebert panned the film, saying “The movie lacks the warmth and edge of the two previous features. It seems to be more of an idea than a story.”
7. The End Of Brad & Jen
When this photo of Jennifer Aniston was taken, she was going through a lot of new beginnings. Here, she was at the premiere of Along Came Polly, one of her first movies where she proved she was more than just a television actress. But this photo also marked some of the endings in her life — specifically, it was the beginning of the end of her marriage to Brad Pitt. As her star began to rise on the big screen, rumors about Brad’s infidelity began to rise in the gossip pages. Ultimately, the couple would divorce a year after this photo was taken, but it did nothing to break Jennifer Aniston’s stride. You go, girl!
6. Moving On From Brad
As soon as Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt finalized their divorce, the press began to wonder how she would move on with her life. Much ado was made about the fact that the actress didn’t have any children, and many members of the press were wondering if she ever would have children. Still, Aniston tried to ignore the critics and make decisions that showed she’d moved on with her life, but no matter how much she tried to get away from the questions, people would always ask her how she felt about her ex and his new boo, Angelina Jolie.
5. Dating John Mayer
We don’t know what Jennifer Aniston was thinking when she hooked up with the douche-bro of all douche-bros, John Mayer, but Lord, did this end miserably. Much ado was made about the fact that there was a significant age difference between the now-ex-couple, but no one ever took Mayer to task when he would talk about what it was like to sleep with Jennifer Aniston (while also talking about how he liked to sleep with Jessica Simpson better). When the couple split, it ended so poorly that to this day, Aniston still hates the mere sight of John Mayer — no less of an authority than Andy Cohen talked about how, when the two ran into one another backstage at his show, it was “awkward” at best and venomous at worst. We don’t blame you there, Jennifer.
4. Critical Bombs
2010 wasn’t the best year for Jennifer Aniston. Even though she starred in two movies — The Bounty Hunter, opposite Gerard Butler, and The Switch, opposite Jason Bateman — the films were both critical and commercial failures. This was especially hard for Aniston, because her ex — Brad Pitt — was not only enjoying a spate of success with two movies (Kick-Ass and Megamind), but he was also in the press (a lot) thanks to his seemingly very-loving relationship with Angelina Jolie. The couple, in fact, had six children — three biologically, and three adopted — and this put even more pressure on Aniston to eventually settle down and get married, let alone have children. Despite it being a year of personal and professional failures, Jennifer Aniston always managed to keep a smile on her face.
Things finally began to turn around for Jennifer Aniston in 2012, when she starred in the feature film Wanderlust opposite Paul Rudd. This movie marked a return, for Aniston, to her comedy roots — where she always seemed the most grounded — and even though it was a commercial failure at the time it was released, it has since gone on to become a cult classic. On a more positive note, the critical reviews around Wanderlust were positive, and thanks to 2011’s Horrible Bosses — in which Aniston proved that she was still as hilarious as the day she starred on Friends — her return to comedy was well under way.
2. Cake And The Beginning Of Critical Acclaim
The game completely changed for Jennifer Aniston when 2014’s Cake was released, because the next year, she was showered with every sort of commercial and critical accolade. Cake told the story of an astringent woman named Claire Simmons who struggles with chronic pain. Many praised Aniston’s performance in the film as “Oscar worthy,” although she wasn’t nominated for the much-coveted award in 2015. However, the film proved that she was a worthy contender for the nomination, especially after she was nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.
1. Happily Ever After With Justin Theroux
Many people were wondering if Jennifer Aniston would ever find love again after she and Brad Pitt split. And while the actress faltered with her relationships after the divorce — in addition to the disastrous John Mayer, Aniston dated Vince Vaughn and Paul Sculfor — she seemed to have finally gotten it right when, in 2011, she met Justin Theroux on the set of Wanderlust. In the movie, they ended up sleeping together — and it must have been more than just acting, because they began sleeping together in real life, too. In 2012, they not only purchased a home together in the tony Bel-Air district of Los Angeles, but they became engaged, too. And though they didn’t get married until 2015, they seem to have done it right, and they seem to be each other’s “happily ever after.” Well done, Jen!
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