Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture Film & TV

Who says Jennifer Aniston can’t do dramatic roles?

By Josh Haggis

With Cake coming out this weekend – and securing the Friends star with a well-deserved Golden Globe nod – it seems as though Jennifer Aniston is finally getting the recognition she deserves for her acting, which many have in the past found easy to dismiss. Yes, she may be at heart a comedic actress, but as Jen said herself last week in Metro: “There’s as much value in making people laugh as there is in making people want to kill themselves”.

Here’s’s look back at our favourite – albeit perhaps not best known – Jen Aniston roles.

The Good Girl

Released back in 2002 during the height of Jen’s Friends fame, The Good Girl is a criminally overlooked twisted black comedy/drama that also stars a young Jake Gyllenhaal and Zooey Deschanel.

The film tells the story of Justine Last (Jennifer Aniston), a 30-something married woman who wakes up one day and realises she’s trapped in her dead-end job and feels suffocated by her marriage to a man that, although good at heart, doesn’t spark the passion she craves so much in her joyless, mundane existence.


Her life is then turned upside down when Holden (Gyllenhaal), an emotionally damaged but inexplicably gorgeous teenager, begins working at the Retail Rodeo alongside her. There’s an instant romantic spark, and although she remains cautious at first, they begin an explosive affair that ends in tragedy and sees Justine pushed to the very edge of her humanity.

Critics labelled Aniston’s performance a “revelation” and “incredibly surprising,” while some even predicted that she would receive her first Oscar nomination for the role. Sadly the nomination never came, but it proved that behind the public’s perception of Jennifer Aniston hides a dramatic actress eager to showcase her talents.


The Break-Up

A dramatic role disguised as a comedic one, The Break-Up saw Jen struggling to deal with her infantile partner, played by her then soon-to-be boyfriend, Vince Vaughn. The film allowed Jen to showcase more than just her comedic timing – no, we’re not talking that infamous naked scene – and although it wasn’t particularly well received by critics, it went on to become one of the highest-grossing comedies of 2006.Jen3

While the majority of romantic/comedy films find it hard not to dramatise relationships to the point where they become unrecognisable, The Break-Up tells the brutally honest story of how even the smallest, most ridiculous things can lead to the end of an entire relationship.

In one particularly on-point scene, a 15-minute argument leads to the couple breaking up because Vince’s character failed to wash up while Jen’s character was at work. Upon seeing the dirty dishes, Jen’s character launches into a vitriolic tirade where she tears her boyfriend a new one before coming to the realisation that she “deserves someone who gives a shit”.

Watch the scene below:

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”][/youtube]



A role that genuinely could have spelled the end of her career before it started, Jen starred as a small-town girl who found herself being terrorised by a murderous leprechaun. Although at first you might might question Jen’s mental health for the fact she read the synopsis and still decided to do the movie – it’s actually not as awful as it sounds.



There’s a moment in the film where Jen’s character, Tory, finds herself being chased through a nursing home by the murderous leprechaun who has killed all of her friends, where you find yourself – shockingly – praying that she survives. This is what makes her so special as an actress –  you want her to succeed, no matter what.  She has an undeniable charisma that manifests itself on screen in a way that other actresses find impossible to replicate. Angelina really didn’t stand a chance, did she….

It’s one of those ‘so bad it’s good’, ‘can’t look but can’t stop looking’ kind of films that makes you realise that even someone as iconic as Jennifer Aniston had to start somewhere – even if that “somewhere” is being chased by a tiny Irish troll in stripy tights.