SBIFF honors Jennifer Aniston for her work in Cake

Jennifer Aniston signs autographs for fans outside the Arlington Theatre on Friday night, before receiving the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Montecito Award. NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
Jennifer Aniston signs autographs for fans outside the Arlington Theatre on Friday night, before receiving the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Montecito Award.
NIK BLASKOVICH/NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS

Jennifer Aniston has spent a career trying to rise above the tabloids and the paparazzi that have recorded her every move and emotion, calling it “white noise” tonight on the red carpet outside the Arlington Theatre, where she was to be awarded the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Montecito Award for her career and her Golden Globe nominated role in the indie drama “Cake,” which only just opened in Santa Barbara.

But the star got a little of both slavish fan treatment and serious consideration tonight at this sold out show. The celebrity photo bank on the red carpet was a noisy, crazed affair, with shoving and elbows among the photographers trying to get a shot of the star. The crowds outside screamed and hollered and got autographs, a group of girls who looked like they were born in the early ’90s sang the theme song to “Friends” in a loop as Ms. Aniston talked to the press. And inside the audience was just as heated and excited, as she sat down with Deadline Hollywood’s Pete Hammond.

Jennifer Aniston speaks to reporters before entering the Arlington to accept the Montecito Award for her career and her Golden Globe-nominate role in "Cake."
Jennifer Aniston speaks to reporters before entering the Arlington to accept the Montecito Award for her career and her Golden Globe-nominate role in “Cake.”
“Get a room, guys!” she said to the audience to call them down.

Daniel Barnz’ “Cake” features Ms. Aniston as Claire, a woman with chronic pain who becomes strangely fascinated with the suicide of a woman in her support group. But her pain is also masking a personal tragedy. Usually so beautiful in front of the camera, Ms. Aniston’s Claire has facial scars and a very bitter attitude. There’s a lot more going on in this role than her usual comic work. Mr. Hammond, when introducing the star, mentioned how the premiere in Toronto last year was greeted at the end with a standing ovation.

When asked on the red carpet what attracted her to this role, she said, “What *didn’t* attract me to the role! It’s an actor’s dream role to have this beautifully layered complex woman. For me it was like going back to a study of acting that I hadn’t been able to do in years and years. It was fulfilling to the nth degree.”

And looking back on the year she’s had—which, she added was the Chinese Year of the Horse, where one would have to get ready for one amazing ride—she said “the fact that this is even happening at all is sort of blowing our minds. It was just a little teeny movie. Fairy dust is all I can say.”

Mr. Hammond took audiences back through Ms. Aniston’s whole career during the evening.

With no television in the house as a child—she went to a Waldorf school which did not encourage it—she went to a lot of Broadway shows in New York and caught the bug when she saw “Annie.” In Los Angeles she finally started getting work and went through several sitcoms, in fact having to juggle one sitcom “Muddling Through” that nearly got picked up and the other that would go on to become “Friends.”

“And that (first one) went away, ‘poof’, and ‘Friends’ went ‘boom!'”

Her father was—and still is—an actor on “Days of Our Lives,” the soap opera, but she said that he never wanted her to get into acting. He wanted to save her the heartache, she said.

“That was my one rebellion,” she said. “I just kept going and going…Parents want the best for us. And I’m sort of happy that he made that claim that he didn’t want me to do that.”

SBIFF continues today with industry panels, films and the Modern Master Award going to Michael Keaton at the Arlington.

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