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Along Came Polly - I loved Friends, so much, and I don't know how you can follow that up...



Feature by: Jack Foley

FRIENDS may have come to an end, but Jennifer Aniston is still hoping to ‘be there’ for her fans, by launching a successful movie career for herself - which isn’t dependent on her boyfriend.

Having impressed in indie hit, The Good Girl, and finding some divine inspiration from Jim Carrey’s Bruce Almighty last Summer, the actress - still best known as Rachel, from that show - now appears alongside Ben Stiller in the romantic comedy, Along Came Polly.

And speaking at a press conference at London’s Mandarin Oriental on Wednesday (February 18, 2004), she hoped that she would be able to establish an image for herself that wasn’t just a re-hash of her TV persona, even though she remains tremendously grateful for the opportunities it has so far afforded.

"I loved Friends, so much, and I don't know how you can follow that up," she confessed. "Almost every opportunity that I have today has come from Friends, so I will always love it, and no other job will compare to that."

So would she consider a return to TV if the movie career doesn’t become a success?

"No one can say I'd never go back to doing that, never. It would be silly. But, for right now, I feel like I've done that," she replied. "I've spent 15 years doing it, actually, and I'm excited to venture into this new arena [movies] and try this, and producing, and everything else that I can try to explore."

Despite the determination to branch out, however, she seemed a little caught off-guard by suggestions that she brought her small screen ‘self’ to the big screen, whenever she appeared in a film.

"Gosh, I don't really know how to answer that," she confessed, upon being asked whether she made a distinction. "I would hope that I do, yeah, but it's hard not to bring yourself to whatever work you do, because it's you!

"I try… but the parts, so far, may not have been extreme steps away from what I've done for ten years. But it's going to be hard to get that out of people's minds whenever they see anything else, because it's been a consistent character I've played.

"It's something I know I'm probably going to be hearing a lot, but I'll just keep trying to do my job as good as I can and, hopefully, that will go away."

For the role of Polly, whom Aniston describes as ‘more of a free-spirit’, she does at least attempt to break away, slightly, appearing as someone with ‘a fear of commitment’, who finds her ideals ‘thrown to the wind’ by the arrival of Stiller’s risk-assessment adviser, Reuben - who is, himself, attempting to come to terms with his new wife’s honeymoon infidelity.

Their ensuing relationship is endearingly played, albeit with some gross-out humour, which harks back to previous Stiller romantic movies, such as There’s Something About Mary and Meet The Parents.

But while Aniston confesses to having based Polly on one of her ‘girlfriends’, who was delighted with her portrayal, none of her own first date experiences come close to matching the excruciating embarrassment of the on-screen couple’s first encounter.

"The most disastrous date, and this was not as much a disaster as it was uncomfortable for the people involved, was where the guy was trying very hard, and he thought it would be a good idea to take us to a Japanese massage parlour, and start the date off that way," she recalled, with a laugh.

"We had a side by side massage, with two women walking up and down our backs, holding on to ropes. I don't know why I even let myself sit down at the table; I guess I was a little nervous to say 'no'. But I didn't go to the dinner part, so that was pretty much a disaster."

Looking to the future, however, Aniston hasn’t really mapped out any precise path, even though she confesses to have plenty of work to consider.

"I would love to do more films like The Good Girl, but I don't plan it out that way," she explained, in response to whether she would like to conscientiously move away from the ‘romantic comedy’ genre.

"It's sort of whatever comes, and is right at the time. There are films that are out there that I'm contemplating, but I feel really lucky that I got that opportunity. It took me out of the box. It's so easy to be boxed into one part, and one part only, so, yeah, I want to do more of everything."

She does, however, dismiss any chance of appearing alongside her husband, Brad Pitt, for some time yet, for fear of generating the wrong type of exposure.

"I think it would be trouble, in a way, because you wouldn't even see the movie, you would just see too much of a show in another way," she explained, candidly. "Maybe years down the line, if the right thing comes along, of course, we would love to. But not now."

Right now, Aniston is happy to contemplate life after Friends, and explore the opportunities the show has afforded her. She even hinted at the possibility of appearing as a guest on the spin-off series, Joey, should Matt LeBlanc ask, admitting that she ‘would do anything for him’.

But in terms of movies, there is the possibility of a new film in which she will appear as a politician's wife, who must face her past when the son she gave up for adoption ten years earlier resurfaces, and an untitled Ted (Ocean’s Eleven/Matchstick Men) Griffin project to contend with.

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