Jennifer Aniston Toronto Film Festival Cake
Yu Tsai for Variety

The Golden Globe-winning actress talks about the pain and gain of her new drama 'Cake,' which is playing the Toronto Film Festival

Jennifer Aniston says her performance in new drama “Cake” was physically and emotionally tough, but it was “beyond a dream role.”

Aniston came to the Variety Studio Monday to chat about the film, which has its world premiere Monday at the Toronto Film Festival.

Co-starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Worthington, the indie drama finds the actress playing a character who is in massive chronic pain, who’s addicted to pills and booze and who has alienated everyone in her life.

“She basically has to decide whether she wants to live or die,” Aniston said. “The woman’s journey is so heartbreaking but so uplifting, because she’s gone through a trauma but maintains her wit, which is very endearing.”

The project, which is looking for a U.S. distributor, came together very fast. Director Daniel Barnz and his partner, producer Ben Barnz, discovered the script in a screenwriting contest 13 months ago and met with the actress in November.

Filming started April 3, the final touches were added weeks ago.

Aniston said as soon as she had finished reading the script (by first-timer Patrick Tobin), “I knew I was going to do it,” because it was a challenge but an opportunity “to express empathy” for the character and all those undergoing similar experiences.

Aniston allowed herself to be photographed without makeup and looking haggard (though, it should be noted, in person she looks pretty spectacular).

Every movement for the character is painful, “which was hard on my body for five weeks of shooting. I spent weekends seeing a chiropractor and getting massages and trying to maintain my sanity.”

Early word on her performance is very positive and Aniston is upbeat about “Cake,” which she sums up as “the little indie that could.”

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