×

Toronto: Jennifer Aniston Loses the Makeup for Gritty ‘Cake’

Cake,” which world premieres on Monday afternoon at the Toronto Film Festival, features a breakthrough performance from Jennifer Aniston as a 40-something woman who suffers from chronic pain.

To inhabit the character, Aniston went through an arduous rehearsal process, according to the film’s director Daniel Barnz. She interviewed patients of the condition and watched documentaries. “She also really worked the timbre of her voice and settled on something more gravelly than the Jennifer Aniston we know,” he says.

But just as the cameras started to roll, Barnz asked Aniston to take a big risk. He didn’t want her to wear any makeup onscreen. “Not a stitch,” he says (although he did allow for Chapstick). “You can see the wrinkles in her face and the pores. She’s not wearing makeup because that’s true to the character: this is a woman who doesn’t take care of herself.”

The road to make “Cake” was as unusual as a 45-year-old star leaving her glam squad at home. Barnz stumbled upon the script because of a promise he made himself after directing 2012’s “Won’t Back Down” — that, for one year, he’d agree to all requests he’d normally turn down. “One of the things I said yes to is judging a screenwriting competition, which I don’t often do because it’s a lot of work,” he explains.

Barnz was so entranced by the winning entry (from Patrick Tobin) he decided to make the film. “Cake” tells the story of Claire (Aniston), a woman dealing with chronic pain who develops a relationship with the husband (Sam Worthington) of a woman who kills herself (Anna Kendrick).

In June 2013, Barnz and his husband-producing partner, Ben, optioned the screenplay. In July, they met with Tobin to offer their notes. By September, they had a finished rewrite, which they started to shop around. “As soon as this went out, there was an incredible amount of interest,” Barnz says. But he wanted Aniston, so he wrote her a passionate letter about the project. “Because the role is hard, you want someone you’d forgive immediately,” he says.

After she had signed on, the rest of the pieces fell into place quickly. Barnz secured financing from Cinelou Films (the budget was under $10 million), shot in Los Angeles in April for 25 days and wrapped in the middle of May. “This was 13 months from inception to completion,” he says. “My first film, ‘Phoebe in Wonderland,’ was 13 years. I sort of feel like there’s a karmic retribution.”

WME and CAA are handling domestic rights and Conquistador Ent. is selling international.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • Film Republic Adds Further Sales for

    Film Republic Inks Further Deals for 'God of the Piano' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sales agent Film Republic has closed further territory sales on “God of the Piano.” Film Movement previously picked up North American rights to the film, as reported exclusively by Variety. Mont Blanc Cinema has taken the rights for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Limelight Distribution is looking after the Australian and New Zealand releases, Hualu [...]

  • ‘Bears Famous Invasion’s Lorenzo Mattotti Brings

    Lorenzo Mattotti on MIA Title ‘Bears Famous Invasion of Sicily’

    Illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti is no stranger to film festivals. The artist – a long-time New Yorker cover artist and onetime Lou Reed and Michelangelo Antonioni collaborator – has designed posters for past editions of Venice and Cannes, and has contributed to films that played in Toronto and Rome. This year, however, he experienced the festival [...]

  • Dreamworks Abominable

    'Abominable' Release in Malaysia Abandoned

    Plans to release the increasingly controversial Chinese-U.S. co-produced animation film “Abominable” in Malaysia have been dropped after the distributor said that it would not be cut to cater to political sensitivities. The film includes a scene which depicts a map showing the South China Sea and the so called “nine-dash line” that China uses to [...]

  • Hui He

    RAI Com Takes World Sales on Italy/China Doc About Star Soprano Hui He (EXCLUSIVE)

    Italy’s RAI Com has taken world sales on high-profile documentary “Hui He, the Soprano From the Silk Road,” which is about the personal and artistic journey of one of the world’s leading sopranos and also marks a milestone Italian-Chinese co-production. Hui He was born and trained as a singer in the Chinese city of Xi’an, [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content