Jennifer Aniston made an effortless transition from the small screen on Friends to the big screen with such successes as He’s Just Not That Into You, Marley & Me and Bruce Almighty.
In her new romantic comedy, The Switch, she plays Kassie, a single woman in her early 40s who announces that she wants to have a baby, and doesn’t plan to let the lack of a husband or boyfriend stand in her way.
Her best friend Wally Mars (Jason Bateman) is shocked when she asks him to help her find a perfect sperm donor, instead of asking him to be the donor. At Kassie’s insemination party, a drunken Wally switches the sperm for his, and then passes out. After moving away for seven years, Kassie returns to New York and Wally meets her son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) and can’t get over how much he reminds him of himself.
Jennifer Aniston spoke with us about The Switch, which her company co-produced, and the role of Kassie, that fascinated her.
What was it about Kassie that you empathized with?
When we meet Kassie she’s at a time in her life where she’s just ready to have a child. She alerts her best friend that she’s going to sort of do this on her own because she really feels she wants a child more than she needs the man, which I found quite interesting. I don’t know if I would do it that way, buy anyway she does, and there are a lot of women out there who do, so I think it’s great to represent.
I thought it was a really beautiful, great story that was kind of unconventional and it’s also one of the first movies that our production company, Echo Films, have come out with. I also wanted to work with Jason Bateman, who is one of the sweetest (guys). I’ve always adored him and he’s just delightful.
It seems you have great chemistry with everyone you work with, even the dog from Marley & Me. Are you just a people person who gets along with everyone?
I guess so. I like people. I’ve also been lucky not to work with (nasty people). I’ve only had really great people I’ve worked with. That’s my luck.
Do you feel Kassie is the new modern woman that chooses her own fate, when she wants it and how she wants it? Do you encourage women actually to step up to what they want?
The subject is definitely that. It supports what is sort of currently happening in our world today, that we as women have the choices and options of when or how to have children as we have evolved as a society.
What’s the role for the boyfriend or the husband now if the girl can do everything by herself?
I don’t know. I don’t think it’s about the handyman or the electrician. I think it’s about really finding that person that means something and not settling. I mean we know a lot of single people happy as a lark. We know a lot of married people pretty much not as thrilled as they would like to be.
Do you feel you have learned something from Kassie?
I have learned something from every character I’ve played, especially in this case, the women in my life who have gone through the struggles and heartbreak and frustration of infertility and adoption and all of that.
I think that’s why it jumped out of me so immediately, the connection I had to it, because I thought it was something very timely and progressive that hadn’t been really discussed and to have a love story woven through it was just beautiful and it’s hysterical.
You’re the queen of these romantic comedies, and I’m just wondering what is it in the script that appeals to you? What are you specifically looking for when you pick a role?
It comes from just having usually a gut reaction to the story and also having the story rooted in reality, and jumping off from there is always more interesting to me, in the vein of the movie like The Breakup, or Marley & Me.
They are true stories to life and relatable stories and then the comedy comes out of that. I usually need to have a moment where the story is poignant in some way.
The photos you took looking like Barbra Streisand in Harper’s Bazaar are remarkable. Talk a bit how that happened and have you had reaction from her?
I have in fact. She’s just fantastic. This is an idea that Chris McMillan who is my hairdresser and I’m his Barbie doll. Basically, has been saying that he has wanted to do this for years. And then I met (Barbra) on New Year’s Eve. We just chatted.
We went through midnight together, me and her and Jim (Brolin, Barbra’s husband). And then we had a couple of dinners and I told her about this idea at Harper’s Bazaar, and they loved it.
And then we even had dinner a couple of nights before and we were looking at old photos. She was just excited about it. She’s darling, lovely and humble and is an icon. It was really special for me to get to play around like that and do that. I was really happy.