By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Jennifer Aniston reunites with her “Object of My Affection” co-star Paul Rudd in the comedy “Wanderlust.” They play a yuppie New York couple that head south after losing their jobs and their tiny expensive condo. After a brief, disastrous stay with a relative, they wind up at a Georgia commune, where they are welcomed with open arms by the colorful, quirky residents.
Aniston’s character adapts quickly to this idyllic community, called Elysium, where everything is shared, from food to recreational drugs to spouses. Rudd’s character, though, has a little more trouble with the free love practice, though, especially since the commune’s hippie-like leader is eyeing his wife.
The comedy, from producer Judd Apatow, written by Ken Marino and David Wain and directed by Wain, offered Aniston not only an opportunity to reunite with Rudd, but also work with her real life boyfriend Justin Theroux, who plays Seth, the not-so-enlightened commune leader.
She arrives for an interview just days after her 43rd birthday looking fabulous in a black tank top and pants.
Front Row Features: It’s been about 14 years since you and Paul last worked together. How was it to team up again and star in a movie?
Aniston: It was heaven. We were so happy. It felt like no time had passed. We’ve also seen each other throughout the years. It’s just that excitement of this is going to be so fun and comfortable, especially playing a married couple with the ease and familiarity.
Front Row Features: The whole idea of this couple is that they want to get away from city life, and they wind up in a place that’s completely different. As someone in the public eye, has there ever been a moment where you just wish you could go someplace and just kind of disappear into that lifestyle and not have to deal with paparazzi and everything else connected with fame?
Aniston: Every day. Yes. For me, going to Clarkesville (Georgia) and shooting this movie was a version of that, honestly, because there were no paparazzi. There were no secret little tricky cell phone pictures being taken. It was just this great community and these amazing people. I realized how much I was walled in a way, and not consciously so. But I have this armor that I kind of have to put on—not from my friends or people in my family—just the outside world, always being on guard. So there was just this sigh of relief after a week. I realized I was like John Travolta in “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” It was like riding a horse out of the bubble. It was special, really special, and to kind of get back in touch with that part of myself, and that sort of anonymity. I really made a conscious effort to not wall up like that. You miss out on a lot of stuff if you’re so protected and isolated.
Front Row Features: What else did you like about working in Georgia?
Aniston: We were all in a place that none of us lived so we were sort of brought together.
Front Row Features: How long were you there?
Aniston: Summer to fall. It was still warm when we got there but then the leaves started changing. It was so beautiful. We went trick or treating. That was fun.
Front Row Features: How long do you think you would last in a place like Elysium? Do you think you could adjust to living in a place like that?
Aniston: I honestly don’t think I would last that long. Going for a little bit to film the movie was a version of that.
Front Row Features: Paul’s worked a few times with director David Wain, but this was your first time working with him? What was it like?
Aniston: I was welcomed with open arms. I had just the time of my life.
Front Row Features: Were you surprised David would let you improvise take after take?
Aniston: That’s pretty obvious. David would wait. But then he would do it just for his own laugh. You’d hear him laughing. There he is. It would just be going on and on and on and on and then he’d finally yell cut, laughing. We knew we were just giving David a kick.
Front Row Features: Do you like improvising?
Aniston: That’s where the fun stuff comes. David’s someone that’s not so strict on sticking to the script. You’re allowed spontaneity in that sort of great moment.
Front Row Features: David has put together a string of clips for the DVD that weren’t used in the final cut that will be released in theaters that he calls “the bizarro cut.” How much extra stuff was shot that isn’t in the finished movie.
Aniston: I haven’t seen the bizarro cut yet. There have been so many incarnations of this, I wasn’t sure what I was going to see at the premiere last night. That’s sort of what was so fun—seeing it and experiencing the shock and awe. The bizarro cut will be bizarre.
Front Row Features: One of the themes of the movie is this idea of free love. Do you believe an open relationship can work?
Aniston: No. For some people, it’s possible (and) to each his own. But I think eventually it’s going to start to not feel good.
Front Row Features: You have a scene in “Wanderlust” where you take your shirt off in public? Were you nervous being topless in front of the camera?
Aniston: Kind of. I mean there’s a little bit of nerves. But the adrenaline kind of takes you through it. We have our (production assistants) come in and cover you up immediately. But I got very comfortable with seeing nude people pretty much immediately. It was very bizarre. And to know that some of the (extras) were actual nudists, because there’s a nudist colony in Clarkesville. They were comfortable being nude. Then there would be the ones that you could tell were not authentic nudists because they were … groomed. You could spot a fake miles away. Well, maybe not miles away. Shockingly, it was bizarre how at ease we all became with having a bunch of naked people everywhere.
Front Row Features: I guess you have to avert your eyes.
Aniston: That’s where sunglasses come in.
Front Row Features: Your character has kind of bounced around from different careers and dreams and goals at the beginning. What were some aspirations you had if Hollywood and acting didn’t work out?
Aniston: There was the period where I wanted to be a therapist if the acting thing didn’t work. That was pretty much it. I don’t know why. I just liked talking to people. I was always the girl people would come to and talk about their problems. I still am. I also really knew acting was something I had a good feeling about. I was innocently ignorant. I wasn’t like, God, I hope this happens. I was waitressing and waitressing and waitressing and doing this and that and the other thing. I would audition. I couldn’t get hired to save my life, but I would do off-Broadway theater and that was great. I was excited. My feeling was, well, it’s off-off Broadway, but there’s still the Broadway in there.
Front Row Features: Congratulations on getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (She got her star Wednesday, Feb. 22.)
Aniston: Thank you.
Front Row Features: How do you feel about having your own star?
Aniston: I am extremely flattered, humbled, nervous and excited, all at the same time. It feels very surreal to be honest. I was born here and it’s sort of something you went and saw as a kid and were excited about, just walking down Hollywood Boulevard and seeing the names, and to imagine you’re going to be there is really special.