Jennifer Aniston has a massive fan base, an enviable group of A-lister friends, and a fiery list of past celebrity loves, but one thing she doesn’t have is family closeness. Growing up, the Friends star had a complicated relationship with her mother, Nancy Dow — one that mimicked the relationship between the mother-daughter duo in Dumplin‘, the Netflix film Aniston acted in and helped produce.
In a 2018 interview with ELLE, the actress shared details about her and her mom’s strained relationship. “She was from this world of, ‘Honey, take better care of yourself,’ or ‘Honey, put your face on,’ or all of those odd sound bites that I can remember from my childhood,” the 51-year-old recalled.
While Dow’s harshness towards Aniston led the star to have countless insecurities, it also made her into the strong woman she is today and forced her to find happiness in relationships with other people, such as her close friends. “We always joke that we raised each other, we mothered each other, we sistered each other, we’ve been kids to each other,” she said of her longtime pals.
Jennifer Aniston had a tricky relationship with her mom
Despite it all, Jennifer Aniston has no hard feelings towards her mother. After years of flying solo, she’s figured out that all Nancy Dow was trying to do was protect her. “My mom said those things because she really loved me. It wasn’t her trying to be a b***h or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo,” Aniston told ELLE magazine. “She did it because that was what she grew up with.”
Dow confirmed her and Aniston’s complex relationship in a 1999 memoir about her famous daughter, which she titled From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir. According to the National Post, the book’s publication reportedly hurt Aniston so much that she refused to speak to her mother for years, including not inviting her to her wedding with Brad Pitt. Toward the end of Dow’s life, however, the two did their best to mend their relationship. Dow died in 2016 at age 79, according to ABC News.
Jennifer Aniston's dad didn't want her to act
Jennifer Aniston’s mother wasn’t the only person she had a complicated relationship with growing up. The star also butted heads with her father, John Aniston, 86. In a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she admitted her parents — who were both actors — actively discouraged her from becoming an actress.
Her dad is a well-known soap opera actor, whose most famous role was that of Victor Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives, while her mom was a model and actress better known for her roles in The Beverly Hillbillies, The Wild Wild West, and The Ice House.
“My dad’s advice has always been: ‘Don’t do it. Become a doctor. Become a lawyer.’ He didn’t want me to be heartbroken because he knew it was a tough business. It compelled me to go for it even harder,” Aniston told THR. “Do what keeps you happy, and don’t ever let people box you in.”
Jennifer Aniston is focusing on happiness now
Jennifer Aniston told The Hollywood Reporter that after doing Friends, she worked hard to get into different types of acting. She wanted to prove to herself, the industry, and her parents that she’s a true actress.
“There was a period when I was on Friends where The Good Girl came to me, or [2006’s] Friends With Money came to me. I thought, I’ve got to go for it now and try to not just be Rachel Green so I can get out of the Fruity Pebbles section at the grocery and explore the organic food,” she told the outlet. “It’s a terrible analogy, but I had to get out there and do something different so they could see that I’m an actor, so I didn’t forget that I could do other things. I was lucky that happened.”
In her talk with ELLE, Aniston said that despite the hurdles she’s encountered over the years, she truly considers herself a “happy person.” She shared, “What brings me happiness? I have a great job. I have a great family. I have great friends. I have no reason to feel otherwise. If I did, I would need to go get an attitude shift, a perspective shift.”
No matter what family struggles she’s dealt with, it sounds like Aniston powered through and found the positives.
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