Some might call Jennifer Aniston’s Oscars omission, for her soaring performance in indie drama Cake, a ‘snub’.
The actress however, who received nods from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards for her role as a woman who suffers from chronic pain, is much more reflective, and far from bruised about not receiving a nomination from the Academy.
“All of this is so incredible, we didn’t expect any of these nominations,” says the 46-year-old who, unlike her character - the scarred and barefaced Claire - looks the epitome of health, with her golden highlights and sun-kissed skin.
“We didn’t know who would see this movie, then all of a sudden, something popped, and it was so flattering and humbling,” she adds. “And it is exciting, especially when it’s something you love as deeply as I love this.
“Everybody worked so hard on it, so anything beyond even those three nominations I’m [grateful for]. I’ve already won for myself.”
Angry and difficult, Claire is morbidly fixated on the suicide of Nina, a member of her pain support group, played by Into The Woods actress Anna Kendrick.
After pushing her loved ones away, and with only her housemaid Silvana sticking by her, she begins to explore Nina’s death, getting to know Nina’s husband and son. Only then does Claire begin to make peace with her own life.
“I had so much empathy with Claire,” says Aniston, who jokes she was pleased she could let her exercise regime fall by the wayside during the two months’ filming.
“I was curious about what was wrong and what happened. I thought it was unique and interesting, and I was ready to shake it up a little bit. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, it’s just that the opportunities don’t always come my way.”
She is, after all, famed for her gentle comedies and romcoms, like Along Came Polly, Picture Perfect and Just Go With it, and of course, there was the iconic stint as Rachel Green in the adored sunny series Friends.
Cake certainly marks a departure for the actress - and was a hard-won battle. So much so that the role initially went to another actress, with Aniston eventually stepping in as a producer, helping secure the much needed finance, as well as taking on the role when it was up for grabs again.
“I’ve read films like Cake over the years, and usually they always go to a particular actress,” explains Aniston, who is engaged to actor and director Justin Theroux.
“I’m not saying the industry is lazy or has a lack of imagination - well, maybe - but I was never going to give up waiting for that opportunity that I knew would allow me to show I have more in me that I want to do.
“It just takes having to bang a little louder and disappear a little deeper, and then all of a sudden, they see you. It’s like catch-22. If you cast me then I’ll show you I can do it, but they won’t cast me, because they haven’t seen me do it, so you’re screwed.”
Aniston has also directed two short films, but is currently “waiting for the right material” before she commits to making another.
“It takes up a good year of your life,” she notes. “And I’ve had such wonderful acting opportunities.”
That said, she’d happily enlist her loved ones, if she sat on the directors’ chair again.
“I would direct Justin,” she says, grinning. “And vice versa. I take good direction and so does he. He would love it.”
While Cake takes Aniston in a dramatic new direction, she’s not averse to taking on lighter roles again.
“I always joke that I really want to play a superhero,” she says, laughing. “I do! I think those films are such fun. There are a lot of stories I want to tell and a lot of characters I want to play.I want to go back to theatre, not Shakespeare though.”
She also wouldn’t rule out TV if the right show came along. And despite calling time on Friends back in 2004, she’s happy to chat about the long-running series.
“I love Rachel, it’s not a bad thing to not be able to shake her off,” says Aniston, who is still good friends with Courteney Cox, who played Rachel’s flatmate Monica.
“I was on Friends for 10 years. I was in your living room and still am, every day. I think that’s why Cake was so important, because it really allowed me to disappear and show I’m a grown-up.”