Aniston: A B.O. darling who’s also a survivor

Women's Impact Report 2011: Jennifer Aniston

Asked what exactly her impact might have been over the last year, Jennifer Aniston cracks wise — “That I’ve stuck around,” she says.

Yes, and resilience has proved quite lucrative: Both “Just Go With It” and the more recent “Horrible Bosses” each earned more than $100 million worldwide (the former made more overseas, which is rare for a comedy) and this, added to her 2010 grosses (on “The Switch,” and “The Bounty Hunter”), added up to half a billion worldwide.

Still, the actress comes under a lot of scrutiny from the tabloids for her love life, and others for her career choices, which have paid off commercially, but not always artistically.

“I look for something I can relate to,” she explains. “Not even in the role, but in the script, something that seems fun to play. It’s not always like that. I just read one, a high-concept comedy where I sort of have a gender change. ‘Yeah? I don’t think that I want to pull that off.’ You’ve got to be realistic about what you feel you can do and get excited about it. With some parts, it’s just not stirring me up inside. People say, ‘How can you not? It’s a tour de force …” Someone else can do the tour de force. I want to do something I can do well.”

How she determines that, she says, is an evolving process, “because I’ve been evolving. I couldn’t have done ‘Horrible Bosses’ 10 years ago. No specific reason why. It’s just growing up.”

Part of that growing up has been her work behind the camera this past year on the dramatic anthology “Five,” a series of short films about the impact of breast cancer on people’s lives (other directors include Patty Jenkins and Penelope Spheeris) on which Aniston also acted as exec producer. It airs Oct. 10 on Lifetime during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But being Jennifer Aniston, she knows that’s not the kind of work most journalists are interested in.

“They want to know who I’m with, who I’m not with, am I with child, not with child,” Aniston says. “But honestly, how I feel about that other kind of attention is like anybody who’s experienced it: You wish it wouldn’t exist.”

SNAPSHOT
Title: Actress
Role model: “My producing partner, Kristin Hahn.”
Career mantra: “Choose work you love to do, not the work you think you should do.”
Leisure pursuits: Interior design
Philanthropic/political passions: St Jude Children’s Hospital. Promoting woman’s health and cancer awareness.

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