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As she sits in a windowed penthouse suite at Manhattan’s Royalton Hotel on a rainy afternoon, Jennifer Aniston contemplates the nature of fame.
“You have to work really hard at not becoming like Howard Hughes,” the actress said with a warm smile during an interview with WWD on Wednesday, when asked about the more problematic aspects of her celebrity. “What ends up happening is people just will make up whatever they want about your life, or guess when you’re going to get married, or guess that you’re pregnant when you’re really not. And then they have to figure out a way to undo what they’ve said. It’s just crazy. I find it to be slightly exhausting, but sadly, I think it’s just part of our industry, and I guess I understand it to a point. But I wish there were off hours. It’s an interesting industry, that tabloid world, isn’t it? I find it to be so toxic and so damaging. Photographers chasing after little children, who’s the cutest baby — it’s a really yucky part of society.”
Aniston is in town to promote Living Proof, the hair-care brand she bought into in October of last year. One new product, Satin — a serum that smooths hair but doesn’t weigh it down — hits sephora.com this week and Sephora’s brick-and-mortar doors within the next few weeks. Scheduled for an August release is Flex, which is intended to “redefine hair spray,” said Jill Beraud, Living Proof’s chief executive officer, adding that it combines patented holding polymers and pliable shapers to create an elastic network which holds hair in place but remains flexible. It can be used on wet or dry hair to add hold, control and manageability to styling, and also can be used with heat tools such as curling irons.
Since becoming involved with the company, Aniston has brought salon owner Chris McMillan, her longtime friend and creator of her famed “Rachel” cut, on board, and Living Proof kicked off a contest Thursday that will award a grand prize of hanging out with Aniston and McMillan for a day, to be capped with a McMillan haircut. (And for the record, McMillan insists he was stoned when he created the oft-copied Rachel cut for Aniston in 1994. “I’m 14 years sober, so I feel safe enough to say that,” he said with a grin.)
Aniston noted that she wants to expand her activities beyond her day job of acting — and that was one of the reasons she chose to invest in the company rather than simply serving as its face (which is among her duties).
“I want to expand my world to businesses other than entertainment,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out how to enter into that entrepreneurial area of my life.”
Given that her hair has been a national obsession since the Nineties, hair care seemed natural. “We all want to find something great that will solve our frizzy problems, our flat problems, our damage problems,” said Aniston. “[Living Proof is] new, they’re still growing and they’re excited. It was fun to merge with them on that level and be a part of what it’s eventually going to become.”
Her secret penchant for watching the Science Channel also spurred on the decision to get involved with the company, which is comprised of a group of MIT scientists. “I get sort of mesmerized by [the Science Channel] — I get stuck on it,” she said. “It’s like watching an infomercial. It’s like, ‘I’ve been watching this for 15 minutes.’ My father [actor John Aniston] was going to be a doctor at one point, and he would watch medical channels. We’d see open-heart surgeries and all sorts of crazy things. It blows me away. I always did like science class when I was in school. How things work interests me.”
And once Beraud started talking about patented molecules, Aniston was hooked, she said. “Plus, you don’t have silicone and other things weighing down your hair. Those work for a period, and then you’re like, ‘This isn’t working anymore.’”
As far as what’s next on her entrepreneurial wish list, Aniston’s still figuring that out. “Oh my God, there are endless things. I love skin, I love clothing — things that make girls feel good.” Like Living Proof, for Aniston any new product categories are likely to be buy-in or self-funded propositions rather than spokesperson deals. “When you’re selling something for someone else, you look at it and say, ‘I could make this, I’ve tailored all of these clothes,’” she said.
Ironically, the owner of one of the most copied haircuts of the last 20 or so years said her hair has always given her a bit of a struggle. “I have wavy, frizzy hair,” she said, noting that Living Proof products solved those issues without excessive buildup. “Who wants to be a part of a product you don’t believe in or don’t really use? When it actually lived up to what I was saying, I was really sold — and excited, because I feel like I have something to share with people that’s actually not going to fail on you in a month or two.”
When Living Proof execs took to the streets to poll women on their opinions of their own hair, Aniston realized that her criticism of her own hair was rather universal. “I was looking at these girls who were not loving their hair, and I’m thinking, ‘You have beautiful hair!’ It’s always funny, our perspective of ourselves and how incorrect it usually is. We always seem to want something we don’t have. And it’s a shame, because there’s so much beauty to be appreciated in the world. We spend so much time not loving what we’ve been given and trying to make it look different.”
Aniston is keeping mum on the details but divulged that she’s got the Living Proof scientists working on a few of her dream hair products. “We’re just getting into the creative stuff. I have a couple of ideas, but I won’t blow it now.” Current favorites in the line include Amp Instant Texture Volumizer and the Restore Mask Treatment, which Aniston credits with changing her hair for the better. “I also switch back and forth between the Frizz and the Full shampoos.”
Aniston has four movies in various stages at the moment, “‘We’re the Millers’ is coming out August 9,” she said, noting her costars are Jason Sudeikis and Emma Roberts. “It’s really, really funny and out there. It’s kind of like ‘The Hangover’ meets ‘Vacation.’ That’s actually how someone described it to me after they saw it. I don’t want to claim a ‘Hangover’ kind of brilliance, but it’s funny. I’m about to start a Peter Bogdanovich film [‘She’s Funny That Way’] in July, and I just completed a movie with John Hawkes, Mos Def and Tim Robbins, which is untitled at the moment — it’s an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard book called ‘The Switch.’ That was a lot of fun. It had a great director, Dan Schechter, who is new and he’s fantastic.”
Aniston coproduced the latter film and has several projects on tap that she hopes to produce. “There are two others that we’re [she and producing partner Kristin Hahn] trying to get a cast together for.”
And she’s already fixed her next goal firmly in her sights. “The thing I want to do next is direct,” she said. “I want to direct a full-length feature within the next five years. I usually never put times on anything, but the next five years would be great. Right now, I’m luckily still working as an actor, and I love it.”
She hasn’t settled on a genre, noting that her interests span a wide range. “I like it all,” she said. “I don’t want something to be all drama, or all comedy — I think that something that’s just a real-life human story.”