Her lavish 50th birthday party earlier this year was attended by a glittering Who’s Who of Hollywood.
Pictures from Jennifer Aniston’s milestone celebration showed the actress having a ball, cavorting for the camera with A-list friends Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon and Kate Hudson – and her ex-husband Brad Pitt was among the guests.
The former Friends star, who has long been dubbed ‘poor Jen’ because of her apparent failure to find lasting love, appears to be in quite fantastic shape.
The former Friends star, who has long been dubbed ‘poor Jen’ because of her apparent failure to find lasting love, appears to be in quite fantastic shape
Indeed, a new book is set to reveal that, despite two divorces and high-profile heartbreaks, Aniston – once described as Hollywood’s ultimate ‘girl next door’– is having the time of her life.
And according to New York Times bestselling author Ian Halperin, she is ‘having the last laugh’, particularly over old rival Angelina Jolie.
It has been 18 months since Aniston ended her two-year marriage to The Leftovers actor Justin Theroux, and nearly 20 years since her ill-fated marriage to Pitt, which ended after he met Jolie on the set of Mr And Mrs Smith in 2004.
There seems to have been no one since Theroux. But Halperin’s book, Friends With Benefits, claims the actress has invested in her ‘inner and outer health’ by spending £200,000 a year on therapy, yoga and laser skin resurfacing.
At one stage unfavourably compared with the alluring Jolie, Aniston has finally emerged from her shadow – and looks fabulous.
One close friend told Halperin: ‘Who would have thought that Jen would have ever looked better than Angelina Jolie? That shows you in life it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. I’m so happy for her.’
One close friend told Halperin: ‘Who would have thought that Jen would have ever looked better than Angelina Jolie?’
Of the 350 sources interviewed by Halperin for the book, most say they’ve never seen the actress more happy, content and focused.
‘She doesn’t really seek happiness, she seeks well-being,’ one source said. ‘And clearly she’s accomplished that. She’s really grown as a person over the past few years. She lights up the room wherever she goes. She is a true Hollywood icon. I don’t think there’s been an actress who looked better than Jen at 50.’
Such accomplishments don’t come cheap. Jen’s skincare regime alone – including high-end facial oils and serums – cost £1,300 a month, while her hair highlights are £800 a time. Working with LA’s top fitness instructors costs around £3,200 a month, according to those close to the star, with similar sums spent on a diet coach and customised healthy meals.
Six figures a year are spent on clothes and even greater sums on travel, which Aniston believes is ‘key to staying young and curious’.
It was thanks to daily meditation sessions and regular therapy that she was able to deal with the death of her mother, actress Nancy Dow, in 2016, Halperin says.
The pair had a tumultuous relationship, with Nancy said to have regularly ‘chastised’ Aniston for never ‘being attractive enough’. The pair were estranged for years after Nancy penned a punishing memoir about her relationship with her daughter.
But they reconciled following Aniston’s divorce from Pitt, and Halperin says the Friends actress paid for her mother’s medical bills after she suffered two debilitating strokes before her death.
The public fallout from Aniston’s marriage to Pitt was prolonged and deeply affected her.
Jen’s skincare regime alone – including high-end facial oils and serums – cost £1,300 a month, while her hair highlights are £800 a time. Pictured is Jennifer Aniston when she was still married to Brad Pitt in 2001
She is said to have told friends that she will never speak to Jolie again, and Halperin claims the whole saga became ‘an insane Bermuda Triangle’ which left her ‘devastated and mentally torn’.
‘It’s been so hard for Jen, so difficult,’ Halperin said. ‘Nobody expects her to ever want to be in the same room as Jolie. It would just feel so awkward. Angelina stole her man. She also gave him so many kids while Jen and Brad struggled to have children. I don’t think Jen will ever open the door to Angelina again, under any circumstance.’
It did not help, either, that the two actresses were pitched against each other, with tattooed, bisexual Jolie portrayed as the desirable temptress and Aniston as the more down-to-earth spurned wife.
But the reality behind the scenes was rather different. Halperin’s previous book on ‘Brangelina’, as the then-couple were dubbed, claims Jolie was, in fact, ‘quite jealous and insecure’.
He wrote: ‘No matter how much Brad assured her, Angie, deep down, always feared he would go back to Jen.’ Halperin says Aniston made her famous appearance on the cover of men’s magazine GQ in 2009 – naked except for a strategically placed tie – as an exercise to ‘free her from all the torment she endured’ during the split from Pitt.
One of Aniston’s long-time colleagues told the author: ‘It was liberating, it was powerful for her. She needed to do it. She basically sent a strong message to Angelina that she was over the hurt and was liberated and feeling better than ever.’
It certainly appears that today, in the wake of Brangelina’s split, it is Jolie who is the more fragile of the two women.
Aniston and the World War Z actor have even rekindled their friendship and, according to onlookers at her party, hugged and chatted during the bash, which Pitt attended with close friend George Clooney. But it may yet be in her career, too, that Aniston gets the upper hand. The book claims she is investing in her acting credentials, taking lessons four days a week in a bid to win the ultimate award before her career is over – an Oscar.
‘She’s more focused than ever on her career,’ an industry insider tells Halperin. ‘I don’t think we’ve seen the best of her yet.
Halperin’s previous book on ‘Brangelina’, as the then-couple were dubbed, claims Jolie was, in fact, ‘quite jealous and insecure’
‘All she needs is the right role to come her way and I think that will put her in the conversation for major awards. She’s that talented and driven.
‘The older she gets, the better she gets. She’s like a good wine.’
Halperin recalls a conversation he had with the late actor Bill Paxton, who had always been a huge fan of Aniston’s.
‘Paxton told me, “Jen’s the better talent. People think Angelina is a good actress but she’s always pretty much playing herself – wild, outgoing with a dark side. Jennifer is able to play different characters with conviction.
‘I would choose to work with her over Angelina for the reason that she brings more to the table – she has more range.’
It is her close-knit group of female friends who, according to Halperin, Aniston has to thank for helping her through ‘the darkest times’.
The book describes how Theroux, 47, who has written the scripts for blockbuster comedies such as Tropic Thunder and Zoolander 2, ‘never took Hollywood seriously’.
But Aniston ‘loves LA’ and has built up a network of ‘strong, supportive women’, Halperin says.
While some are big names in the industry, including her Friends co-star Courteney Cox, others she has met on the self-help circuit.
Many of her inner circle are said to be therapists, nutritionists and life coaches who share the same positive outlook on wellbeing.
One is Iranian-born spiritual leader Mitra Rahbar, who penned a 2015 book called Miraculous Silence for which Aniston provided a cover quote, describing her as ‘a dear friend and confidante for over 20 years’.
Another close friend is life advisor and relationship expert Suzannah Galland, originally from the UK, who describes herself as a ‘celebrity intuitive’ and is a regular contributor to Paltrow’s Goop lifestyle brand. Halperin told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The closest people to Jennifer are her girl friends. “Girl power” got her through the darkest times. She’s a woman’s woman.
‘Men don’t really fancy her because she’s not overtly sexy like Angelina Jolie but women love her because she’s a true friend and is someone women can relate to. She’s made the most of herself and she’s been through the break-ups and drama we all go through, but hers has been on a grander, more public scale.’
Pitt was not the only old flame to attend her birthday party at West Hollywood’s Sunset Tower Hotel. Singer-songwriter John Mayer, whom she dated for nearly a year in 2008, was also among the guests.
And while Theroux was unable to be there, he paid tribute to his ex-wife on Instagram, describing her as ‘fiercely loving, fiercely kind… and fiercely funny’.
She is not, it seems, short of other admirers. Halperin revealed how one ‘multi-billionaire’ had told him he is ‘obsessed with Jen’ and considers her one of the world’s most beautiful women.
Halperin says: ‘He told me that he intends to pursue her and wine and dine her, and go as far as to offer her half of his multi-billion-dollar fortune if she agrees to marry him.’
It may not be the most tempting proposition for self-sufficient Aniston, said by Forbes to be worth around £193million. But fortunately, there are plenty of other options for the actress.
‘Jen does have one special man by her side,’ a source close to Aniston has told Halperin. ‘He helps her make decisions and gives her strong moral support.’
Her personal trainer, Leyon Azubuike, who owns boxing fitness brand Gloveworx, told Halperin that Aniston ‘dominates’ everything he throws at her: ‘Most women in their twenties couldn’t keep up with her.’
A long-time friend of Aniston’s also told the author: ‘Jen takes both her inner and outer self very seriously. She looks at it as an investment. She invests in being balanced spiritually while maintaining her beautiful outer self.’
Still, she knows how to have fun. Jen enjoys a glass of wine, is famous for her Margaritas, and follows a ‘high flavour’ diet – food so satisfying that you eat less of it, or so the theory goes.
Halperin observes: ‘Jen started out as a bit of a joke in Hollywood, but she’s now one of the most popular stars out there.
‘Everyone loves her because she’s a true friend, is never bitchy and has stayed real and grounded despite all the lurid tabloid headlines and all the scandal.’
A recipe, it seems, for long term success after all.