IAR INTERVIEW: Jennifer Aniston Talks 'Life of Crime'

Thursday, 28 August 2014 11:03 Written by  iamrogue
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IAR INTERVIEW: Jennifer Aniston Talks 'Life of Crime'

With Life of Crime, Jennifer Aniston heads to the seventies, a decade known for some regrettable styles.

"It’s a tough look," the actress and international superstar commented. "It was awesome for the time and a lot of fun to wear all of that polyester and the handkerchiefs around the neck. My favorite piece of wardrobe was the sunglasses."

"I basically looked like my mom," Aniston quipped. "I pulled out a lot of her old pictures and tried to rock the old Nancy Aniston 1970s look."

Her outdated costuming was part of creating the period look and feel of Life of Crime, which is based on an Elmore Leonard novel first published in 1978.  Leonard, a master of American crime fiction who died almost exactly one year ago, was known from crackling dialogue, sharp humor, and unforgettable characters in a world of bad choices and worse consequences.

One of his many indelible characters is Mickey Dawson, played by Aniston.  A Detroit housewife, Mickey goes on an unconventional journey of self-discovery when she's abducted by a pair of first-time kidnappers.

At the Los Angeles press day, Jennifer Aniston shared her enthusiasm for Life of Crime, saying, "I was so excited because I’ve always loved Elmore Leonard. I had read The Switch, which was the actual name, but we had to switch because I was already in a movie called Switch about best friends making a baby. Then I read the book and I love how he writes his characters. They’re all so interesting and detailed. Also his bad guys aren’t the brightest, yet they somehow always make it happen and they’re actually lovable."

"I also thought Mickey’s character had such a beautiful arc and a powerful one," she continued. "In that time to write that for a woman in the 70s was pretty awesome. The whole package was really exciting for me. It was pretty much a no brainer."

Her character is gliding through life as the wife of Frank (Tim Robbins), a corrupt real estate developer whom kidnappers Louis and Ordell (John Hawkes and yasiin bey) plan to extort in return for Mickey's safety.  When Frank, happily enjoying an illicit affair with the kidnappers' accomplice Melanie (Isla Fisher), decides not to pay the ransom, he inadvertently kicks off a series of double-crosses and twists.

"Mickey was living in the petrified forest with Frank and very repressed emotionally and abused and didn’t know how to make a move to get out of that sort of jail," Aniston commented. "Oddly enough, the kidnapping is her get-out-of-jail-free card. As the story progressed and her situation became more dire, she found that strength like women do when faced with unimaginable circumstances."

When IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick asked Aniston about taking abuse from Robbins onscreen, she replied with a laugh, "It was pretty awesome. He really was a jerk. Just a jerk. No, he's lovable and anything else is an understatement. And he is quite towering. He's a towering figure for sure, so those scenes it was kind of really intense but fun and awesome to play especially when towards the end when she gets her own set of balls. It was pretty fun. He's just a lovely man and I've known him for a long time so it was fun to have him beat me up a little bit."

As for the rough treatment Mickey receives from her abductors, Aniston said, "I didn’t prepare. I just let them hurt me. That’s the way to get a real reaction as it turns out. And the ski mask was kinda great. It’s weird, it was a lot to try to convey emotion when everything that usually does what covered up was kind of really fun for me. We worked a lot on that ski mask. We had to have it lined with silk so we didn’t get rashes on my face. It was a very well made mask."

As their scheme comes undone, Mickey forms fascinating and fraught relationships with her captors, particularly Louis.  The chemistry between Aniston and Hawkes is rich, filled with subtext and a surprising tenderness.  Asked about how she and the Oscar-nominated actor created their onscreen dynamic, Aniston said, "I think that stuff is just kind of natural. I don’t think you can force it or create it. We got along instantly when we might and we were both interested as actors. You’re interested in the story and that sort of very subtle, odd, not even love story, but that’s sort of what unfolds, which we both thought was really interesting. Chemistry is chemical, man. I don’t know how you make it."

That's not say Life of Crime wasn't a challenge for its ensemble cast.  "It's wonderful to know that everybody has moments of getting stumped," she said. "Because sometimes as an actor, you go, 'Oh God. I should know how to do this. I should know. I'm having trouble finding this moment or whatever.' And it's great when you have actors that you can actually really communicate that with, and you don't feel kind of like, I shouldn't be acting.

"Everyone's a student. People were all always students, and those guys especially," she continued. "This particular team. It's different than a comedy where you're just riffing on each other, and it is real character study and story and trying to understand the story and how much you want to reveal."

Aniston was effusive in her praise of writer-director Dan Schechter, so it wasn't a huge surprise when she revealed her aspirations to tackle directing in there future.

"Direct," Aniston emphatically replied to the question of her goals beyond acting.  "Absolutely, that's the next thing, the big sort of hurdle I want to take on. I've done a few short films that I've just loved the experience of doing and I'm just waiting for that wonderful window and that wonderful script and that will be the next one for me."

Life of Crime opens in select cities this Friday, August 29th.

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