Jennifer Aniston (Cake)

by HFPA December 29, 2014

In a departure from the type of role that made her famous, Jennifer Aniston received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the film Cake. The nomination, for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, is her first for a non-television role.

Aniston received her first Golden Globe nomination more that 10 years ago. As Rachel Green in the NBC sitcom Friends, she went on to win the Award for Best Actress in a Television Series – Comedy. In that role she became a household name, famous worldwide as an “American sweetheart,” spawning fashion trends and even having a hairstyle named after her character.

Ten years later – and almost as many romantic comedies – Aniston has taken a decidedly less glamorous role in Cake, and the gamble has certainly paid off. Ms. Aniston plays the role of Claire Simmons, a woman whose traumas have made her difficult and un-loveable, embittered by loss so she falls into an unhealthy obsession about the suicide of an acquaintance while neglecting her own life and that of those around her. A woman whose physical scars bear witness to a pain both physical and inner emotional.

Aniston has talked about preparing for the role by studying the effects of chronic pain, both by talking to people who have suffered from chronic pain and doctors who treat it.

While Cake has received mixed reviews, Ms. Aniston’s performance in the role of Claire Simmons was recognized almost from the beginning as something special.

She spoke of pursuing the role: “It's an actor's dream in terms of being able to just completely escape and really embody someone who's having an emotional and physical experience and really, you know, tell that story as honestly as possible.”

Born on February 11, 1969 in Sherman Oaks, California, Aniston was raised by her father, long time television actor John Aniston and a former model-actress mother, Nancy, in New York. Jennifer attended the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, where she was active in the drama club. She worked off Broadway after high school, as well as working as a bicycle messenger among other jobs.

Friends garnered her, and her cast mates, worldwide fame, and made her one of the most financially successful women in Hollywood. In July of 2000 Aniston married Brad Pitt, in what many thought would be a Hollywood fairytale marriage. But the relationship didn’t last and, in what became a very public tabloid split, the couple filed for divorce.

Aniston has spoken about the risk of being typecast based on her past successful roles. She acknowledged that getting the opportunity to step away from her “girl next door” image was something that she wanted to do, but that she needed to find the right film to do it in, and the right director to make it happen.

The role of Claire is a big departure for Ms. Aniston. Claire seems to be oblivious of her appearance and uninterested in the effect she has on the people around her. She couldn’t be more different than Rachel, and that, could be what has made this a standout role for Ms. Aniston.

Lynn Tso