Jennifer Aniston's character in Cake might not have been an easy role to play, but the actress sees that as a good thing. On Good Morning America on Jan. 21, Aniston opened up about the "beautiful human experience" of playing Claire Simmons, a woman who suffers from overwhelming chronic pain, and revealed how she overcame the challenge of relating to her character. Jennifer Aniston said she drew on her own past of handling pain with humor, much like her character does, in order to bring Claire to life on set. She said,
It was something I related to — her humor. I understood that. I, for one, have gone through difficult times to varying degrees of difficulty and find humor as a way to get through it. I also loved that because you were getting a window into this former shadow of who she once was.
While Aniston may have certainly drawn from her past experience for her many roles over the years, this role is different since it is much darker and more complex than many of the others. After all, Aniston is primarily known for her role on Friends, and for romantic comedy parts that are similar to her Friends character Rachel Green. She was even ranked in a Top 10 list for "most typecast actors" by Complex. Also, it would probably be much more difficult to find a commonality with someone who suffers from a condition that she's never experienced. Since she was able to, this is a sign of a positive expansion of her acting. Not only did she have the chance to explore a complicated role, she also connected it to her own life, and this can only mean positive things for her career. She received a Golden Globe nomination for this role and also received a SAG award nomination, so the entertainment world is clearly paying attention to this shift. Perhaps this will even open the doors for her to get the chance to play even more serious roles in the future.
It looks like Aniston welcomes the challenge. She called her character a "dream role," since there was so much opportunity for her to explore while playing a person who was constantly going through agonizing experiences. While her own personal experiences have not included chronic pain, it shows great skill on her part to find a way to connect with a person who has and make sure it translates well onscreen. While she's still mostly known for playing the girl next door, it's worth applauding her for taking this risk.
On learning more about acting, she said,
All of those wonderful acting experiences, the exploration of a character and stuff. It's been so long. It's also exciting to keep challenging myself.
Let's hope that she continues to expand her craft. As can be seen in Cake, she's more than just Rachel, and it's about time she took advantage of that!
Images: Getty Images