It’s a New Morning for Jennifer Aniston
LOS ANGELES — Jennifer Aniston was trying to have a quiet weekend away.
It was just after her 50th birthday, and she’d boarded a plane for Mexico with six of her best girlfriends — most of whom have known her since her early days in Los Angeles, before Brad, before Justin, before “Friends” and before the tabloids, when they lived as neighbors on the same street in Laurel Canyon. (“We called ourselves the Hill People,” she said.) But a few minutes in, the pilot asked to speak with her. They had a tire missing, and they would have to return to Los Angeles.
As the pilot burned off fuel, Aniston spent the next four hours cracking jokes and trying to remain calm (she is terrified of flying), while fielding text messages from friends who’d read about the “emergency landing” — which hadn’t actually happened yet.
The women landed safely, switched planes and, the next night, gathered for a ritual they’ve been doing for three decades: a goddess circle. Seated on cushions, cross-legged on the living room floor, they passed around a beechwood talking stick decorated with feathers and charms, much as they had done for every major event of their lives. They had circled before Aniston’s weddings to Brad Pitt and Justin Theroux. They circled when babies were born, and when Aniston and Theroux had to put down their dog, Dolly. This time they set the circle’s intention: to celebrate how far they’ve come — and to toast Aniston’s next chapter.
女人們安全著陸，換了飛機，第二天晚上，她們聚集在一起，舉行了一個她們已經做了30年的儀式：女神圈。她們在客廳的地板上盤腿圍坐在坐墊上，傳遞一根裝飾著羽毛和護身符的山毛櫸手杖，她們生活中每當發生什么大事都會舉行這個儀式。在安妮斯頓與布拉德·皮特(Brad Pitt)和賈斯汀·塞洛克斯(Justin Theroux)的婚禮前，她們就曾這樣圍成一圈。她們當中有人生孩子的時候，還有安妮斯頓和塞洛克斯的狗多莉需要安樂死的時候，她們也是這樣圍成一圈。這一次她們舉辦女神圈，是為了慶祝她們已經取得的成就，并為安妮斯頓的下一個新篇章喝彩。
“It’s so weird. There’s so much doom around that number,” Aniston said of 50, noting that the New Yorker in her (she spent most of her childhood on the Upper West Side) was slightly horrified at the thought of the term “goddess circle” appearing in a story about her. “Should we just call it a ‘circle’?” she asked.
We were sitting in the kitchen of her sunny, midcentury Bel-Air home, on a Tuesday afternoon in late August. She was warm and radiant, which is how glossy magazines often describe her, and also thoughtful, inquisitive and self-deprecating, which is not.
She asked about the meaning of my tattoo, which led to a conversation about my dog, which led her to ask Siri, “Hey Siri, what does a cockapoo look like?” (“I’m like a weird dog person, it turns out, like a dog lady,” she said, running her hand through her dog Clyde’s fresh haircut.) She is surprisingly unguarded for someone for whom the tiniest kernel of news can transform into a thousand stories.
But about that age thing: “I’m entering into what I feel is one of the most creatively fulfilling periods of my life,” she said. “Seriously,” she continued, pausing to knock on her wooden coffee table. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I feel like it’s just about to really bloom.”
This is the kind of thing actors say all the time in interviews. But in this case, it feels like more than a platitude.
Since “Friends” ended, Aniston has had critical success in smaller independent films, mixed reviews for mainstream movies, a lot of product endorsements, a couple of outright flops. But nothing has clicked quite like Rachel Green, the beloved runaway bride she played on “Friends.” She’s spent 15 years taking parts that had the potential to get her past that iconic role, that haircut, that “cloak of Rachel,” as she once put it — but they didn’t deliver. Perhaps the only way to do that may be to return to the medium that made her famous.
So come Nov. 1, she’ll have a homecoming of sorts as the star of Apple’s “The Morning Show” — a big-budget drama set behind the scenes of a news show that looks a whole lot like “Today.” Aniston plays Alex Levy, a serious morning anchor whose personal life is complicated and professional life is more so, compounded by the sudden firing of her longtime co-host (played by Steve Carell) for sexual misconduct.
所以在11月1日，她將作為蘋果的《早間新聞》(The Morning Show)的主演回歸，這是一部大制作的電視劇，背景是一個看起來很像《今日秀》(Today)的新聞節目。安妮斯頓飾演的亞歷克斯·利維(Alex Levy)是個嚴肅的早間新聞主播，她的個人生活很復雜，職業生活更是如此。更糟糕的是，她的長期搭檔（史蒂夫·卡瑞爾[Steve Carell]飾演）因性行為不端而被突然解雇。
For Apple, the show represents the shiniest bauble in its launch slate as it attempts to challenge the likes of Netflix with a streaming service of its own — and among the first shows to hang its premise on #MeToo. 紐約時報中英文網 http://www.738231.buzz
For Aniston, who is the spine of the show as both a lead and an executive producer, it’s the chance to dig into a more sophisticated dramatic role that, as she put it, has everything: “children, guilt, power struggle, being a woman in the industry, going through a divorce, publicly going through a divorce, feeling alienated, being just a little bit of a screw-up.”
It’s a role that is asking her to draw on more of her personal life than ever before. And it may also be her best chance to finally get the world to see her as an actor, not just a star.
‘We basically just started over’
“The Morning Show” didn’t begin as a #MeToo story.
Three years ago, when Aniston told Michael Ellenberg, a former executive at HBO who oversaw “Game of Thrones” and “The Leftovers,” that “television is not not an option for me,” Matt Lauer was still delivering the morning news and Harvey Weinstein was gunning for Oscars. “I said to him, ‘I just want to be a part of something great, I don’t care where it lands,’” Aniston recalled. “Because God knows, the movies have been great and they’ve been horrible, so you just don’t know.”
三年前，安妮斯頓告訴前HBO高管、《權力的游戲》(Game of Thrones)和《守望先鋒》(The Leftovers)的監制邁克爾·艾倫伯格(Michael Ellenberg)，“電視對我來說不是一個選項”，當時馬特·勞爾(Matt Lauer)還在播報早間新聞，哈維·韋恩斯坦(Harvey Weinstein)正在為奧斯卡做準備。“我對他說，‘我只想參與一個偉大的事情，我不在乎有什么結果，’”安妮斯頓回憶。“因為天知道，有的電影太棒了，有的電影太可怕了，你根本不知道。”
When Ellenberg later phoned Aniston to tell her he’d acquired rights to “Top of the Morning,” a nonfiction book by the media reporter Brian Stelter that delves into the drama-filled world of morning television — and had also spoken to Reese Witherspoon, with whom he worked on “Big Little Lies” — the women immediately called each other.
后來艾倫伯格打電話給安妮斯頓，告訴她，他會獲得《清晨之巔》(Top of the Morning)的改編權，這是媒體記者布萊恩·斯特爾特(Brian Stelter)寫的一本非虛構作品，深入探究了早晨電視節目的戲劇性世界——而且他還聯系了他在《大小謊言》(Big Little Lies)里合作過的瑞茜·威瑟斯彭(Reese Witherspoon)——二女一拍即合。
“We were so psyched,” said Witherspoon, who has known Aniston since they played sisters on “Friends.” She noted that the two had wanted to work together for some time, but that it was rare to have “two very, fully fleshed out female leads in one project.
Aniston signed on to play Alex, a morning host akin to Ann Curry, who must traverse the cutthroat, ego-filled world of TV news as a woman in her 40s who executives declare is past her prime. She collides with Witherspoon’s character, a brash, younger field reporter who may be gunning for her job or could become her best friend, we aren’t yet sure.
Apple bought the show in a bidding war and ordered up two seasons. If the people who brought you the iPod were going to compete with Netflix and Hulu, Aniston and Witherspoon — who also serve as executive producers — seemed like a pretty good bet. “I just felt like this was exactly what we were looking for,” said Eddy Cue, a senior vice president at Apple overseeing the new service, who declined to name the price the company paid for the show but acknowledged that the draw of luring Aniston back to TV added to the appeal.
But then Weinstein happened. Charlie Rose was canceled. Matt Lauer was fired from “Today.” “And we basically just started over,” Witherspoon said. “We had to.”
但接著韋恩斯坦的事發生了。查理·羅斯(Charlie Rose)停播。馬特·勞爾(Matt Lauer)被《今日秀》解雇。“我們基本上就是重新開始，”威瑟斯彭說。“沒辦法。”
Kerry Ehrin, a creator of the A&E series “Bates Motel,” was brought in to write a new script, replacing the original showrunner. The updated premise: Alex’s longtime co-host is fired after news of his behavior on the job (and in his dressing room) becomes public, throwing the show and her career into chaos.
A&E劇目《貝茨旅館》(Bates Motel)的編劇凱瑞·依云(Kerry Ehrin)應邀寫新劇本，取代了原先的節目統籌。新版故事背景：亞歷克斯的老搭檔主播在他在崗位上（以及更衣室里）的行為公開后被解雇，讓節目和她的職業生涯卷入漩渦。
Carell would be cast to play the disgraced anchor — whom Aniston described as a kind of lovable, cocky narcissist who, like so many powerful men before him, “just thinks everybody wants to sleep with him.” Witherspoon’s character would be positioned as a potential replacement to fill his now open anchor chair. “The Morning Show” would still tackle gender and ageism, but also tell a more complicated story of what happens when an idol falls. What does it mean for his unknowing co-workers and friends, like Alex? His ability to seek redemption? And, without knowing exactly of what he’s accused, whose side should we be on?
The ‘garage band days’
Now is the point in many of these interviews when the reporter asks the subject if she, too, has a #MeToo story.
Aniston says she does not, though she has certainly experienced her share of sexism in 30 years in the business.
“Agents,” she began, ticking off a list. “Studios. Finding out what this actor made versus that actor made.”
It’s our second meeting at her vast, modernist home, and this time we’re joined by Kristin Hahn, Aniston’s best friend of three decades and producing partner of two, who is also an executive producer on “The Morning Show.” The duo reflected on what it was like when they began in Hahn’s garage in Ojai, California, 18 years ago (“We call them the garage band days,” Aniston said) to try to make movies.
“It was so much harder …” began Hahn.
“ … to get our phone calls taken,” finished Aniston.
“Now actors are taken more seriously as producers,” Hahn continued. “But when we started, even though Jen had been on a TV series for eight years, it was still a little like, ‘Oh, isn’t that cute.’”
It was there in that garage that Hahn and Aniston, with Pitt, co-founded the production company Plan B, which was then called Bloc Productions, a name that had come to Aniston during a game of Scrabble, she said. They developed “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “A Mighty Heart” and “The Departed,” on which Hahn was an executive producer.
正是在那間車庫里，哈恩、安妮斯頓和皮特合作創辦了B計劃娛樂(Plan B)制作公司，后稱為布洛克制片公司(Bloc Productions)，安妮斯頓說她是在玩Scrabble拼字游戲時想出了這個名字。他們推出了《時間旅行者的妻子》(The Time Traveler’s Wife)、《堅強的心》(A Mighty Heart)、《無間道風云》(The Departed)，哈恩在其中擔任執行制片。
When Aniston and Pitt’s marriage ended, Aniston and Hahn decided they would be the ones to leave the company: “It was the symbolic equivalent of, ‘I’ll move out of the house,’” said Hahn. Plan B went on to develop the Oscar-winning films “12 Years a Slave” and “Moonlight,” while Aniston and Hahn formed their own company, Echo Films, as a side project when Hahn wasn’t writing — she wrote the screenplay for the Netflix movie “Dumplin’” — and Aniston wasn’t acting.
安妮斯頓和皮特的婚姻告終時，安妮斯頓和哈恩決定她們離開公司：“相當于代表‘我要搬出去住，’”哈恩說。B計劃娛樂后來又推出奧斯卡獲獎影片《為奴十二年》(12 Years a Slave)和《月光男孩》(Moonlight)，安妮斯頓和哈恩則成立了她們自己的公司回聲影業(Echo Films)，作為哈恩寫劇本——她是Netflix電影《餃子公主》(Dumplin)的編劇——安妮斯頓演戲之余的項目。
“Our mission statement was, Tell strong stories about strong women,” Aniston said. “Flawed, complicated, messy. ’Cause that wasn’t happening.” (Currently in development: “First Ladies,” a political comedy for Netflix in which Aniston will play the first lesbian president opposite Tig Notaro, and “The Goree Girls,” a project about one of the first all-female country bands.)
“我們的宗旨是，講述堅強女性的堅強故事，”安妮斯頓說。“有缺陷的、復雜的、一團糟的故事。因為還沒有這樣的故事。”（目前在制作的有：Netflix的政治喜劇《第一夫人們》[First Ladies]，安妮斯頓將在其中扮演首位女同總統，提格·諾特羅[Tig Notaro]演對手戲，以及關于最早的純女性鄉村樂隊之一的《格雷女子樂團》[The Goree Girls]。）
‘There’s a similarity to my life’
You could say that the story of Alex Levy is also the story of Jennifer Aniston: one of being underestimated and overexposed, known for a thing that may or may not have anything in common with who you actually are, trying to reassert control over your narrative.
“Jen has lived in the public eye for so long,” said Ellenberg. To play the role of Alex, he says, “she’s drawing on real stuff in her life.”
Alex, who is declared by her male boss to have passed her “sell-by date.” Alex, whose smooth smile appears on billboards across the city but whose life at home is more complicated. Alex, who the world feels they know intimately, personally, but are nowhere near acquainted with.
“There’s a similarity to my life,” Aniston acknowledged. “I relate in ways of feeling like, when you don’t want to be seen, and you don’t want to go out of the house, and you want to just scream, and you don’t want to walk on a red carpet. I don’t want to stand behind a podium, I don’t want to have my photograph taken, I want to just cry today. You know?”
I asked if she could have played this role at any other point in her life.
“No,” she said firmly. “I didn’t have the experience.”
“It’s taken time for me to get where I am and I put a lot of work into my craft,” Aniston said. “I’ve failed. I’ve succeeded. I’ve overcome. I’ve, you know, I’ve stayed around. I’m still here.”
That, in Hollywood anyway, is perhaps the most radical thing a woman can do.