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At Jennifer Aniston's 'Inside the Actors Studio' Episode Taping

Jennifer Aniston closeup I was in the audience last Thursday, June 23, when Jennifer Aniston came to The Actors Studio at Pace University for a taping of Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. As you'd expect, the popular movie star talked about her childhood and discussed her film and TV work, for an episode that is scheduled to air next month on Bravo.

As she discussed her early years, Aniston revealed some personal stories that stunned the audience. She pointed out that she was a terrible student -- not in drama, but in all of her other courses. Aniston also talked about how her parents were very funny people, and she said that she got a lot of her talent from her parents. Aniston was very comical as she stared at Lipton when he asked his questions, and made side comments to herself when answering them. And of course, the actress played to her audience, making us and Lipton laugh every time she held an awkard pause or reacted in ways that reminded everyone of her Friends character, Rachel. As many gossip sites have already reported, Aniston also brought her new boyfriend Justin Theroux to the theater, and throughout the interview she kept looking back at him and making flirty gestures.

But Aniston actually seemed very comfortable in the seat on stage (possibly because she performed in front of a live audience on the set of Friends, before her work on film sets?). Aniston said that she loved performing in front of a live audience, because she felt it was like theater and gave her a similar rush of energy.

Aniston went to the Performing Arts School, where she began to pursue acting. Her father was an actor on a soap opera, which provided Aniston her first appearance on camera, as a background actor. She told Lipton that she loved acting, although her attitude at the beginning of her career was, "Whatever happens, happens."

Now, after many years and onscreen credits following the end of her decade-long role on the hit TV show Friends, she said, "People will see me on the street and still refer to me as Rachel." It makes sense, since Aniston brought the character Rachel to reality, to the point that many fans saw her as a nonfictional character by the show's end.

As Aniston spoke, she talked about many of the famous actors she has worked with, explaining how fortunate she really is. She opened up about acting opposite stars such as Owen Wilson, former beau Vince Vaughn, and her new co-star Charlie Day (in the upcoming comedy Horrible Bosses). She spoke very highly of all the actors, and told the audience that Vince Vaughn is a "genius" when it comes to improvisation. Speaking about Horrible Bosses, in which she plays a seductive (or, more accurately, sexually abusive) dentist, she said, "It’s a fun role. That’s the reason I took the job."

After clips from her films were shown on the big screen, Aniston looked at Lipton and then the audience with a big smile, as if she were very proud of her work. The most interesting part of Aniston’s interview as a whole was the amount of respect she showed for the people she works with. She is clearly very appreciative of her fame and enjoys the work, and said that she only takes jobs where she is attracted to the role. (As she said, her role in Horrible Bosses turns her on.) From being an extra on a soap, to booking a career-changing 10-year hit sitcom, to landing roles in multiple box office hits, Aniston has become one of the most bankable movie stars today. And she didn't get there by accident.

Having now attended two live tapings of Inside the Actors Studio, listening to the fascinating and often encouraging stories from successful actors gives me the ambition to keep moving forward as an aspiring actor. The first actor I saw in the Actors Studio was one of my favorites, James Franco. The fact that he was sitting 15 feet away from me is not what was fascinating -- even though that was pretty cool -- but it was the stories he told to James Lipton and the audience. Being in the presence of actors like Franco and Aniston gave me a chill as I listened to their experiences, which make me want to be an actor more and more every day.

-- Jake Robbins

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