Jennifer Aniston (her original last name was Anastassakis,
but her family changed it when they moved to the U.S. from
Greece) was born on February 11, 1969 in Sherman Oaks, California.
Aniston is no stranger to the acting world: she is the daughter
of John, who starred as Victor Kiriakis on the daytime soap
Days of Our Lives, and Nancy, an actress and model. Jennifer
is also the goddaughter of the late Telly Savalas (of Kojak
After living in Greece with her family as a young child,
Jennifer's parents got divorced, forcing Jennifer to live
with her mother in New York City as of age 9.
In high school, Aniston was a member of the drama club, which
sparked her decision to pursue a career as an actress. In
addition to acting, Aniston has always been passionate about
painting; one of her creations was even displayed in New York's
Metropolitan Museum of Art when she was 11.
A graduate of New York's High School of Performing Arts (the
Fame school) in 1987, Aniston worked in the off-Broadway productions
For Dear Life and Dancing on Checker's Grave. But after heading
for Hollywood (which dad John wasn't pleased about, as he
didn't want Jennifer to pursue acting), she landed her first
television role in 1989, as a regular on Molloy. It took a
while for Aniston to get more roles, and apparently her agent
suggested she lose some weight -- she wasn't fat, but she
wasn't "L.A." thin.
Unfortunately, none of the TV roles she landed were worth
watching. Does anybody remember catching the sitcom Ferris
Bueller (based on the 1986 film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
or the sketch show The Edge? But Jennifer Aniston kept busy
with a recurring role on Herman's Head, as well as appearances
on Burke's Law and Quantum Leap in the early '90s.
By the time the pilot for a new NBC show called Friends came
along in 1994, Jennifer was trying to make her mark in Hollywood.
But with the 1993 bomb Leprechaun as the biggest credit on
her resume, Jennifer had nothing to lose and auditioned for
Friends. The producers originally wanted Aniston to audition
for the role of neurotic chef Monica Gellar, but Jennifer
thought she was more of a "Rachel Green" -- and
she was right. The role of Monica went to fellow hottie Courteney
When Aniston first appeared in the pilot (which was called
Friends Like Us) as a runaway bride, she was also starring
in a show called Muddling Through... but we don't need to
tell you what happened to that one.
Friends became a huge hit as part of NBC's "Must-See
TV" lineup, and the six cast members became TV's hottest
stars. Thanks to the "Ross and Rachel" plot and
of course, Jennifer's haircut, which became known as "The
Rachel," Jennifer Aniston became a household name (and
Jennifer Aniston websites and shrines cropped up all over
the Internet, dedicated to the gorgeous actress. Aniston's
other "digital" gigs include an appearance on the
Microsoft Windows 95 Video Guide, with co-star Matthew Perry,
and a role on an interactive CD-ROM directed by Steven Spielberg
and co-starring Quentin Tarantino, entitled Steven Spielberg's
Director's Chair (1996).
Whenever Friends was on hiatus, Jennifer kept busy with movie
roles. In 1996, she appeared in the independent film, She's
the One, co-starring Cameron Diaz and Edward Burns, and the
following year saw her starring in Picture Perfect, with Kevin
Bacon. In 1998, Aniston starred in The Object of My Affection
and The Thin Pink Line, while the comedy Office Space (directed
by the creator of Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill)
and The Iron Giant (for which she lent her voice) followed
Joining the ranks of fellow beauties Tyra Banks and Rebecca
Romijn-Stamos, Aniston and her Friends co-star Lisa Kudrow
proved they "Got Milk" by showing off their milk
moustaches for the famous milk ad campaign.
In the meantime, Aniston's star rose to the stratosphere
when she and Brad Pitt appeared together at awards shows and
premieres. Although she had already been romantically linked
to Counting Crows' lead vocalist Adam Duritz and actor Tate
Donovan, her relationship with Pitt made Jennifer and Brad
one of Hollywood's "It" couples. On July 29, 2000,
Jennifer and Brad exchanged vows at a Malibu estate, in a
million-dollar wedding that was hailed as "the showbiz
wedding of the year." Although Jennifer is still credited
as "Jennifer Aniston," she is legally known as Jennifer
In 2001, Jennifer returned to the big screen with her role
as Mark Wahlberg's loyal girlfriend in Rock Star. The following
year, she wowed audiences and critics alike with her turn
as an unfaithful wife in the independent flick, The Good Girl.
Not only did she develop a Southern drawl for the role, but
she also proved that she could go beyond the ditzy "Rachel"
character and even downplayed her looks for the role. Aniston
Actress nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards and
the Golden Satellite Awards thanks to The Good Girl.
In 2003, Aniston joined Jim Carrey in one of the summer's
blockbusters, Bruce Almighty. She also proved her star power
by topping Forbes magazine's "Celebrity 100" list
of the world's most powerful celebrities, beating out Brad,
J.Lo and Steven Spielberg. In 2004, Jennifer co-starred with
Ben Stiller in the romantic comedy Along Came Polly, proving
once again that although she was the least known of her Friends
the show debuted in 1994, Aniston is without a doubt the star
who will have a career after Friends.
Speaking of the hit NBC show, after the highly-publicized
negotiations that featured an "all for one" strategy,
the six cast members were each locked into a contract that
garnered them a $1 million-per-episode paycheck. But after
a 10-season run on NBC, the cast of Friends finally said goodbye
on May 6, 2004. After two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe
nod for the role of Rachel, Jennifer finally took home both
trophies in 2002 and 2003 (respectively).
Life after Friends will certainly still be busy for Jennifer:
not only can she work on Plan B Productions, the production
company she and Brad founded, but she can also get started
on the family life she is constantly hounded about in the
tabloids. In the meantime, look for Aniston to star in a film
produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh (to be released
in 2005), as well as 2005's Diary and 2006's Gambit.