Who’d have thought years ago playing the klutzy but beautiful Rachel on TV’s Friends that Jennifer Aniston – America’s sweetheart if there ever was one – would be on a screen asking a co-star to relieve himself for her sexual gratification in the worst possible way… on her.
No, Aniston’s career hasn’t bottomed out so badly she’s starring in straight to video erotic thrillers or extreme scat films online. She’s revisiting the role few thought she had in her, the nymphomaniac dentist Dr Julia in Horrible Bosses 2.
The success of the 2011 hit rested also solely on the delightful comic chemistry of leads Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. Their antagonists in Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey and Anitson as Day’s inappropriately horny employer were just the icing on the cake, so the sequel’s bought the latter two back, Aniston in a bigger role.
When we spoke to her in LA, the 45-year-old talked about comedy, what bought her back to Horrible Bosses and just how like Dr Julia she really is.
Why were you excited to do a sequel together?
We loved the first one so much. I loved playing Dr Julia. I was so sad when it ended. It ended too soon and there was more mining to do for her. I wanted to get back in there, you know.
I was thrilled we were asked to come back and do it again. The boys got to be there for the duration of the original film but the rest of us were only coming in for bits and pieces of it at a time.
Usually at the end of a film you’ve done a few months and you’re ready to put a character to bed but this one left me wanting more.
Did you ever think while reading the script that some of it might be too much?
No I sadly got very excited when I was reading it. They didn’t think I’d say yes and I certainly never thought I’d be reading something like that so it was pretty instant that I jumped on board. It’s against every fibre in my being to an extent.
You got some of the biggest laughs because it’s so out of character. Do you ever get away with stuff because people don’t see it coming from you?
In my life? Like stealing?
I guess so. If you’re asked to do something that’s against your type I’d have to say yes I have gotten away with it because that’s what we do, we’re actors. We have a lot of access to a lot of crazy people in our heads that we’re sometimes given an opportunity to show. Julia’s one of them. I love her.
You’re having a good year because of this film and the amazing reviews for Cake.
What every actor hopes is that they have the chance to find their range, play their range, be accepted for that range.
It’s quite extraordinary and I couldn’t be more grateful to have both of these films happen at the same time because they’re so different. I’m grateful, humbled and excited.
What do you make about the Oscar talk surrounding Cake?
Who’s Oscar? No, that’s beyond flattering and I’m just so excited that this little movie will get to be seen because we all worked really hard and we’re really proud of it.
Which scene made you laugh the most?
There’s one that was the hardest for me with Charlie but it was just a snippet and it got cut. It actually went too far.
The one with Jason was pretty hard to get through because you’re just firing back and forth at each other saying absolutely absurd and ridiculous things and trying not to laugh.
Compare your personal style to Dr Julia’s.
There’s some overlap. I enjoy leather. Julia’s necklace was actually also a cock ring but I don’t accessorise that way. I learnt a lot about Mr Sudiekis because everyone else was saying ‘that’s such a pretty necklace’ and he walks up to me and goes ‘…is that a cock ring?’
I think Dr Julia’s actually quite elegant in her dress, so I think there’s a lot of crossover. Just not in her behaviour.
What kind of jokes have been made when you visit the dentist?
It’s fun going to the dentist now. They love me. Before when I’d go to the dentists to have my teeth cleaned before we started shooting I’d just observe the way they hold their little tools. They’re a little wild in the eyes because they always have those things over their mouths. They’re just giving you gas and doing all sorts of things to you so it was just fun to add her fetish element into that scenario.
Your dentist isn’t taking any credit for the characterisation?
No. Apparently dentistry has the highest suicide rate of any profession because people hate going to the dentist, it’s one of the most dreaded things. So every time there’s someone sitting in their chair they’re miserable.
You see why Julia had to come up with something to entertain herself and bring some joy in her life. So now I feel bad for dentists and I feel excited when I go to sit in the chair.
Is comedy more demanding than drama?
There’s a rhythm, there’s also timing. Comedy is hard, I think it’s an underrated talent. But I also think if you’re coming from an absolute place of truth then comedy is there. It’s in the way Dr Julia is discussing these wants and explanations to Jason’s character in basically the way she’d be asking somebody to give her the ingredients to some sort of meal.
I don’t know if you can teach comedy. It’s in a heightened reality of what the truth is for that character, so it is hard. Otherwise it is bringing in clown noses and whacky stuff, but that’s only a version of comedy.
What do you get out of producing?
It’s the natural progression of being in the business. You want to become more involved in the creative process other than just being an actor for hire. As you gain years behind you and movies and experience under your belt you find that to be an opportunity to find material and put together the characters.
That’s really fun, building a family from the ground up, putting together a crew and working with the writers and finding the directors, it’s quite fulfilling to be part of the bigger picture.
You’ve worked with some of this cast more than once. What’s that like?
It’s fun and comfortable and familiar and they’re family and friends and we’ve known each other so long we’ve been really lucky. You’re only as good as the person you’re opposite.
That’s the thing about being the bad guy or villain or sex addict or whatever. They don’t feel there’s anything wrong, again you’re just playing the truth of that character and that’s where the comedy comes from. The bad girl doesn’t think she’s bad.
Are you more comfortable doing comedy or drama?
I love comedy. It makes me so happy to entertain and make people laugh. Drama accesses a part of the brain and comedy accesses another part but I feel like they all come together.
Sometimes we have an arsenal of characters we know we can reach, and it’s just being given the opportunity to go there, and for some roles of course it’s more challenging. The role in Cake was the most challenging thing I’ve ever encountered but it was extremely fulfilling and playing Dr Julia is extremely fulfilling but it’s also so outrageous.
It might be more comfortable in a way because it’s fun and funny. In Cake or any sort of dramatic role you’re diving into that well that’s a little darker and more complex and it’s going to take a lot more focus and hard work to be truthful and honest to that character.
They’re different muscles.
What keeps you energised?
Sleep. Having proper sleep, exercise. B12 shots – that’s actually true. For me it’s also not looking at the future and seeing what lays ahead. If you stay right at this table right here talking to you and then go to the next place and don’t think about it so much you’re fine.
I mean do we get on a plane when we leave here, do we sleep, do we not sleep, is it afternoon when we get there? As you can see I haven’t thought this through at all…