“This movie has been sprinkled with fairy dust,” Aniston said of the indie’s quick journey from receiving a greenlight to premiering.
What she hopes will be long-lasting is the film’s message, and she passionately articulated what she considers to be the story’s takeaway: “Hope. And knowing that there is help, and you can get better and you’re not alone.”
Aniston’s been blown away by the film’s reception and the way it’s touched so many others. “My god,” she said, “I’m astonished, actually, [at] how many people have come to me and said, ‘That’s my stepmother,’ or ‘That’s my father,’ or ‘I have shrapnel down my right side.’ It’s quite staggering,” she confessed.
One of the film’s producers and a longtime friend of Aniston’s, Kristin Hahn, was also thrilled at how quickly the production came together. “I think it was the momentum that actually made the difference for us,” Hahn said. “You can talk about making movies for months, and I think you can get stuck in limbo. There’s something to be said about just setting the start date [for] three months from now, and you just make it work.”
Everyone in attendance at ArcLight Hollywood on Wednesday evening was extolling Aniston’s brave performance. “Jen is fiercely fantastic,” producer Mark Canton said. “She’s amazing to work with.”
Canton, who is known for his action epics — including “300: Rise of an Empire” — noted that “Cake” broached new ground for everyone involved. “As much as Jen is stepping out of her comfort zone, this is not exactly what I’ve been trained to do,” he attested. “I make normally large, testosterone [-fueled], franchise movies. So this is a completely different venture, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it.”
Director Daniel Barnz feels proud of all that he and his team have accomplished by bringing this meaningful work to the screen. “I think this is a very universal story about how people who are stuck in their lives, or [stuck] in a moment in their life, can look for a way to become un-stuck,” he said.
Despite the film’s heavy subject matter (Aniston’s character becomes invested in the suicide of a woman from her chronic pain support group), Barnz said that the atmosphere on set was generally pretty light. “Jen would make fun of my lisp all the time,” he recalled. “That made me laugh. She doesn’t lisp — she usually looks pretty, so there’s not much to mock her for.”
Nor was anything worth mocking at the film’s celebratory after-party at Sadie restaurant, where cast members including William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, along with the filmmakers, enjoyed cocktails, food and (of course) dessert.
“Cake,” from Cinelou Films, opens in theaters on January 23.
(Pictured: Chris Messina and Jennifer Aniston at the “Cake” premiere.)