Friends star Jennifer Aniston says playing the role of a famous TV presenter in the Apple TV+ show The Morning Show forced her to confront the impact her time in the spotlight has had on her mental health.
Jennifer Aniston knows a thing or two about fame. On top of her iconic role as Rachel Green in Friends, Aniston has starred in countless films throughout her career, returning to TV last year with her SAG award-winning role in Apple TV+’s The Morning Show.
But despite having navigated life in the spotlight – with all the tabloid rumours and twisted headlines which have come with it – for so long, Aniston says she’s never been forced to confront the impact her fame has had on her mental health – that is, until now.
Speaking in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, Aniston explained why playing morning news presenter Alex Levy on The Morning Show and approaching fame with “an actor brain” was such an important experience for her.
“That show was 20 years of therapy wrapped into 10 episodes,” Aniston said. “There were times when I would read a scene and feel like a whole manhole cover was taken off my back.”
Calling the experience “cathartic,” Aniston explained how playing a character in the limelight had given her space to look at some of the coping mechanisms she had developed over the years.
“[It was] interesting for me to look at how I always have tried to normalise being fine and ‘everything’s great, you know, this is all normal,’ and then there are moments when you have your private breakdown or your ‘Calgon, take me away’ moments,” she said. “To actually look at it from an actor brain observing it and acknowledging it, I had to look at it as opposed to pretending it doesn’t exist.”
Reflecting on a scene from The Morning Show’s second episode where her character has a melt down on the way to an awards show, Aniston explained how important it was for her to “lean into” the kind of uncomfortable realities she too has faced over her years in the spotlight.
“There have been moments – not to that level of hysteria – but moments of ‘I don’t want to f-ing go here,’ ‘I don’t want to walk out onto the carpet,’ ‘I don’t want to be seen,’ ‘I don’t want to be looked at and everyone’s going to be talking about me and judging me’ … that’s real,” she says. “I just loved being able to walk into it and lean into it and not be ashamed of it.”
It’s clear that casting Aniston – a woman who has risen to become one of the most famous women in the world – as a TV show presenter under the same kind of scrutiny, allowed for a performance that wasn’t only completely brilliant, but also transformative for Aniston herself.
As Stylist’s Hannah-Rose Yee perfectly explained in her review of The Morning Show: “What Aniston does is bring a meta-textual narrative to the character of Alex, infused with her own experiences as a woman in the very, very public eye.
“Who better to remind us of this untenable, unbearable position than, quite literally, the most famous woman in the world? Nobody else could eviscerate the pressure of being a woman in the public eye quite like Jennifer Aniston.”
Despite the show being over six months old now, The Morning Show still feels as relevant as ever – and it’s clear that the show will stick with Aniston for some time.