As one of the most significant and acclaimed faces in the 1990s and early 2000s comedy, actor Jennifer Aniston had audiences tuning in and laughing along with Friends for ten long seasons. This classic sitcom charts the ups and downs of six ambitious and attractive friends living in New York City and is the immediate thought when someone hears about Aniston.
Like her co-stars, the actor is asked about the show in one way or another in every interview, as it was her role as the spoiled rich girl turned independent career woman Rachel Green that shot her to infinite stardom. However, her most recognised and breakout role is not the performance Aniston is most proud of. Instead, this title goes to her controversial role in Horrible Bosses, which came out seven years after Friends concluded.
Horrible Bosses is a 2011 American black comedy film directed by Seth Gordon. It stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis as three friends who decide to murder their respective abusive bosses, played by Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey. The multi-talented Jamie Foxx also appears in the film as a tough-talking hitman. Gordon's film was released in 2011, serving as one of the first contributions to the hit-or-miss, frat guy, toilet humour landscape that was early 2010s comedy.
Whilst talking to Vanity Fairabout her career highlights and roles outside Friends, such as the indie films Cake and The Good Girl, Aniston cited her Horrible Bosses role as her all-time standout. She shared: "I love Dr Julia. You know, I love playing the crazy woman in Horrible Bosses." This may come across as a surprise, as Dr Julia is unlikeable, crude, manipulative and overall awful. Why would someone as down to earth and loved as Aniston choose this role over someone like Rachel Green, who is sweet and ambitious and shows tremendous growth throughout the show's ten seasons?
Well, maybe Aniston's image and her most iconic role's character traits are the exact reason. Actors who become heavily or only associated with one role they finished performing years ago harbour frustration about the constant reminders. Dr Julia exhibits something we associate with Aniston or her antics on Friends, so perhaps the actor was more than eager to get stuck in with something new and exciting and is happy she did so. Since the actor's career has also seen some points she would like to forget, a different kind of role is always an uplifting moment. Aniston's performance as a horrible boss made for a deserved break in her professional work and, in turn, her public image. It allowed her to step out and show some range in her career.
Another interesting detail is that this interview took place in late 2014, around the same time the sequel to Horrible Bosses was released. This less successful sequel follows the original trio plotting to kidnap a business investor after he scams them in a business deal, with Aniston reprising her role as Dr Julia. Aniston citing this role as her favourite and Horrible Bosses as one of her career highlights now looks like some skilled marketing on the actor's part, as media teams and agents train actors to sell their latest appearance in theatres.
Actors choosing their favourite roles out of convenient promotions rather than artistic integrity may read as vapid and counterfeit. However, it shows the industry's business side alongside the artistic elements.