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Marley & Me - Jennifer Aniston interview

Marley & Me

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JENNIFER Aniston – once known as Rachel in Friends – has since carved a hugely successful career in movies following appealing turns in comedies such as Along Came Polly and The Break-Up.

She’s now playing a journalist and mother in family comedy Marley & Me, in which she has a naughty Golden Labrador, and Owen Wilson, as screen partners. She talks to us about working with animals, riding dogs and why she likes doing both blockbusters and independent movies.

Q: Were you familiar with the book before you came to the film? And if not, what was your reaction when you read it?
Jennifer Aniston: I hadn’t read it until I got the script. Two Christmases ago it was gifted to me, three different times, and I didn’t read it. I didn’t bite! But then I got the script and was like… I have to do this.

Q: In making Marley & Me, you flew in the face of the best advice of WC Fields ever gave to fellow actors [“Never work with animals or children”]. How much do you regret not heeding him?
Jennifer Aniston: Not one bit. It wasn’t as bad as people think, actually. It was quite enjoyable, in fact. And, you know, because Marley was supposed to be such an out of control dog, he really could do no wrong. So, the worse he was, the better he was. With the children, it was hard with the emotional bits. They have to cry in some of the scenes and it’s just hard to see a child encouraged to wail. So, we would just hand the babies off to Owen if they weren’t crying, because he had a knack for bringing the emotion out of these children.

Q. What are your own experiences with family pets?
Jennifer Aniston: My dog…he didn’t like me very much. My first dog, Dmitri, was a poodle. I used to think Dmitri was something I could play with and ride [laughs]. I tried to ride a poodle. And then he bit me. I never thought I’d be a dog person but now I have two wonderful dogs.

Q: The film’s been a massive hit in America and will be here as well, do you think people need this kind of film in this economic climate and does the recession affect the film industry?
Jennifer Aniston: It does affect the film industry. I think to answer the first part of your question, yes. The fact that the film did as well as it did at a time when all the big, high concept, beautiful movies were being released, is a sign of what people are really hungry for, which is just a story of 15 years of a couple’s life. This follows them when they started their dreams, when everything is in front of them, and watches as their family and children, and a dog enter the picture, and there are career changes, career decisions, and through the not so rosy side of married life. I think it’s nice to see a real portrayal of marriage for a change. I think that’s very refreshing… and also to feel something so deeply. It’s such an accessible story and it’s good to feel happy and feel real laughter, but also to cry and feel something sad.

Q. And the recession?
Jennifer Aniston: As far as the recession goes, they’re not making as many movies, they’re losing film festivals, studios that would maybe usually buy six to eight films are buying maybe two, so it’s really harder for independent films especially. The same thing, studio positions are dropped, they’re cutting back and cutting down.

Q: A few of your upcoming projects are independent minded films such as The Baster with Jason Bateman and Travelling. Which do you enjoy doing more, the Marley and Me’s and the He’s Just Not That Into You’s… the kind of big blockbusters or the more independent stuff?
Jennifer Aniston: Well, they both have such great aspects to them. I mean the independent is great because creatively, you have a little bit more freedom, unless you have like a home run like a Marley and Me where you are creatively fulfilled and it sort of feeds the… it does its job in terms of box office and all that. With independents you sort of make them on the go and there is that little bit more creative freedom. You don’t have the money to slow down!

Q: What do you think the unique bond is between man and dog? Sometimes it seems like that relationship is greater than with some humans, so what is it?
Jennifer Aniston: They’re so helpless. They really do have just you and you are their sole carer, you feed them….

Q: You seem to be an animal lover, but is there any kind of animal pet that would put you off dating someone?
Jennifer Aniston: A ferret. That would definitely put me off.

Q: A few dogs played Marley, did you have a favourite one?
Jennifer Aniston: Oh, that’s so hard to say. Clyde was the main one and he was there a lot, so we became very close to him. He was at the premiere in Amsterdam.