Media Moments Jennifer Aniston Can Never Erase

Jennifer Aniston followed proudly in her father John Aniston's footsteps, launching her acting career in the early '90s with roles in TV shows like sitcom "Ferris Bueller" and sketch comedy series "The Edge." However, it wasn't until 1994 when Aniston landed the role of Rachel Green in "Friends" that she firmly cemented herself as a pop culture icon. "When 'Friends' began, we were all so wide-eyed and bushy-tailed," the star recalled to InStyle in 2019. "We couldn't believe what was happening, and we had no idea what was coming." The NBC comedy series quickly gained a worldwide following, and by the time the series wrapped in 2004, Aniston and her co-stars were earning $1 million per episode. And although "Friends" has been off the air for nearly 20 years, its enduring legacy makes it a TV staple for every generation.

Over the years, Aniston has worked hard not to let herself solely be defined by Rachel Green. She's continued to forge an impressive career for herself by starring in a string of popular comedy features before returning to the small screen for the Apple TV+ drama "The Morning Show," which sees her star opposite Reese Witherspoon. Because of this, Aniston has lived her life in the public eye for decades. Her fans have celebrated her career achievements with her, mourned her relationships after a breakup, and continually adored her sense of style. But moments in her life have also been scrutinized and made the subject of long-lasting gossip. 

These are the media moments Jennifer Aniston can never erase.

Jennifer Aniston and the Rachel Cut

If we're talking about the biggest moments that defined Jennifer Aniston's career, then there's no better topic to start with than her iconic '90s hairdo, dubbed "The Rachel." Aniston wore this short, layered hairstyle early on in "Friends," debuting it midway through Season 1 and continuing to don it into Season 2. Like the TV show, "The Rachel" cut dominated pop culture at the time and became one of most requested hair styles of the '90s.

But while it was a career-defining style for Aniston, she actually hated the look. In 2011, the star told Allure that not only did she find the cut so difficult to style and maintain, but she also thought it was downright ugly and was shocked when it caught on. Even its popularity wasn't enough to persuade Aniston to change her mind. "It was a haircut to clean up damaged hair," she explained to The Hollywood Reporter years later. "I'm really a long-hair kind of girl."

"The Rachel" was created by Aniston's hair stylist and pal, Chris McMillian — and while she disliked the popular choppy do, he is still her stylist to this day. Additionally, Aniston has since capitalized on the hair attention by creating LolaVie, her own line of award-winning, cruelty-free, and affordable haircare products.

Her marriage to Brad Pitt was a media sensation

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were two of Hollywood's biggest rising stars in the 1990s, and they captured hearts across the world when they started dating in 1998. They first met four years earlier after being introduced by their managers, and Aniston remembered being very taken with Pitt's demeanor. "He was just this sweet guy from Missouri, you know?" she recalled to Rolling Stone. "A normal guy."

The beloved showbiz couple caused another media stir in 1999, when they made their red carpet debut together at the Emmy Awards. Things moved fast for Aniston and Pitt, and that November, the pair revealed the news of their impending nuptials while on stage at a Sting concert by showing off Aniston's engagement ring, which Pitt reportedly spent seven months designing. As anyone who's up on their pop culture history knows, Aniston and Pitt's marriage was marked by a grand wedding on July 29, 2000. 50,000 flowers, four bands, and a 13-minute firework display were involved in the celebration, which was estimated to have cost over $1 million. The pair were totally in love and returned to the Emmys a few months later as newlyweds. 

Meanwhile, Aniston later gushed about her husband to W magazine in 2003, saying: "In this nutty, brilliant, wonderful, hard business that we have, it's nice to have somebody who's anchored and knows you, really knows all of you."

Brad Pitt's alleged affair made fans pick sides

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt enjoyed less than five happy years of marriage together before they shocked the world with the announcement of their separation in January 2005. It came amid rumors that Pitt was having an affair with his "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" co-star, Angelina Jolie. Of course, his and Aniston's joint statement proclaimed that was not the reason. "This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another," it read in part (via People). The "Friends" star ultimately filed for divorce that March.

Aniston remained graceful in the wake of the headline-making split, telling Vanity Fair that September that she ultimately had no regrets and held nothing but love for her ex-husband. Though she did famously quip of Pitt and the ill-timing of his W magazine "Domestic Bliss" photospread with Jolie, "There's a sensitivity chip that's missing." Nevertheless, the media continued to perpetuate a narrative of alleged infidelity, painting Aniston as the scorned woman and leading to fans picking sides, with some claiming to be "Team Brangelina" while others remained loyal to "Team Jen." 

Although this went on for years, Aniston did her best to shut down the press-created feud, telling Vanity Fair she'd shut the door on 2005. "I'm not interested in taking public potshots," she explained. "I am not defined by this relationship. I am not defined by the part they're making me play in the triangle. It's maddening to me."

Jennifer Aniston got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

When Jennifer Aniston received her star on Hollywood Boulevard in 2012, she claimed one of the highest honors an entertainment professional can achieve. In doing so, she forever linked her name with the likes of Carrie Fisher, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe, whose legacies are cemented in history through their pink-and-gold Walk of Fame star.

Aniston got her star after more than two decades of acting, and soon after branching out into producing features like "The Switch" and directing her first TV movie "The Five." Her longtime friend and frequent collaborator, Adam Sandler, gave a moving speech, after which it was Aniston's turn to express her feelings. "I cannot explain to you how surreal this moment is," she said. "This is crazy! ... It was one of my wildest dreams. I don't think I ever even thought that this would be here, this day. So, I am utterly humbled and grateful."

While reflecting on her momentous achievement, Aniston told The Hollywood Reporter that it made her take stock of her career thus far. "You take a little inventory and ask yourself: 'What more are we going to do? What do we have left to do? Have we done enough to get this thing?'" she explained. Aniston also noted that she was hoping to delve further into directing. But in the end, Aniston stuck to doing what she does best — acting in front of the camera — while also getting more involved in behind-the-scenes work through her production company Echo Films.

Her surprise wedding to Justin Theroux

Whether she likes it or not (and she probably doesn't) Jennifer Aniston's relationships are front page news. After her very public divorce from Brad Pitt, the press was eagerly waiting for the "Friends" star to move on. Following relationships with Vince Vaughn and John Mayer, Jennifer Aniston fell head over heels for her "Wanderlust" co-star, Justin Theroux. The pair first met on the set of "Tropic Thunder" in 2008, but only began dating in 2011 after filming their feature together.

Aniston and Theroux shocked the world when they announced their impending nuptials a year later, although they waited three more years before they officially tied the knot in August 2015. And to keep everyone guessing, they decided to make it a surprise, inviting 70 of their closest family and friends to their Bel Air home for a party they claimed was for Theroux's birthday. Only a handful of their inner circle knew that the event was secretly a wedding, including Jimmy Kimmel, who officiated the ceremony.

It seems like Aniston and Theroux pulled off the surprise for the most part, though their longtime friends, Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen, may have been pretty difficult to trick, as they were actually expecting a surprise wedding party from the moment the couple got engaged. "Sacha and Isla have shown up for four parties, four little gatherings, about a year ago, they would show up in beautiful wedding wear," Aniston said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2014.

Jennifer Aniston's divorce from Justin Theroux

Unfortunately, Jennifer Aniston's marriage to Justin Theroux did not last, and the pair called it quits in late 2017. Announcing the news in February 2018, they shared a statement that read in part (via E! News): "This decision was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year. We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship."

Rumors of a dramatic breakup spread quickly, but Aniston and Theroux have both said that this was just not the case. The "Friends" star hit back at the tabloids' ongoing false narratives surrounding her personal life. "The misconceptions are 'Jen can't keep a man.' ... Or that I'm sad and heartbroken," she told InStyle, while dubbing these as "reckless assumptions" and stating that she was not utterly heartbroken. Meanwhile, "The Girl on the Train" actor explained to The New York Times, "It was kind of the most gentle separation, in that there was no animosity." In fact, Theroux suggested that the hardest part of their breakup was actually dealing with the media fallout, which they'd tried to avoid by announcing it on their own terms in the first place.

However, these statements unfortunately did little to quell the flames of the media wildfire.

The media's baby mania surrounding Jennifer Aniston

Many facets of Jennifer Aniston's life have become public property throughout her prolific career, especially her personal relationships. In the midst of her divorce from Justin Theroux, Aniston was swarmed with rumors suggesting that the reason for their split was because they couldn't have kids. The media essentially alleged that Aniston was either baby crazy or somehow selfish for not yet having a baby (sigh) — and it unfortunately wasn't the first or last time.

After Aniston told the world that it was time for her and then-husband Brad Pitt to start a family in 2004, rumors of fertility issues have plagued the "Friends" star, along with questions about why she never had kids. She was even subjected to admittedly absurd reports that she was secretly expecting, forcing her to pen an op-ed for HuffPost in 2016 in an attempt to end the obsession with her fertility. Still, in 2021, she heard a rumor that she would soon be welcoming twins.

Aniston continually rebuffed such speculation for years, before candidly speaking out about her fertility journey in December 2022. It was an emotional one, as she revealed to Allure that she'd gone through unsuccessful rounds of IVF in her late 30s and early 40s. Had she had the option to freeze her eggs when she was younger, things might have been different, but Aniston has no regrets. "I actually feel a little relief now because there is no more, 'Can I? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.' I don't have to think about that anymore," she concluded.

That time the Friends star broke Instagram

It goes without saying that Jennifer Aniston is practically Hollywood royalty at this point. So, when she joins a social media platform, you should go to her page to follow her, right? Well, this is exactly what happened in October 2019 when Aniston made her Instagram debut.

She shared her first post — a "Friends" reunion picture, which she captioned, "And now we're Instagram FRIENDS too" — on her grid, and it quickly went viral. Fans flocked to her account en masse to see the photo and follow the beloved comedy actor. As she racked up millions of likes and hundreds of comments on the post, Aniston also broke Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's record for the quickest account to reach 1 million followers on the app in the process.

However, so many Instagram users headed to Aniston's profile that she inadvertently ended up crashing the app. Oops. When the issue was resolved, Aniston posted again, this time sharing a video of her character on "The Morning Show" breaking her phone, and writing, "I swear I didn't mean to break it... Thank you guys for the kind, glitchy welcome."

Jennifer Aniston reunited with Brad Pitt

Jennifer Aniston's seemingly turbulent relationship with Brad Pitt came full circle — at least, in the eyes of the media — when they reunited backstage at the 2020 SAG Awards. The pair happily embraced like old friends while the world watched on. Given that everything about their relationship and breakup has been so public and fans have been so invested, it's only natural that this became a viral media moment.

Pitt had watched Aniston accept her award for best female actor in a drama series for "The Morning Show" on a monitor backstage before they embraced. Aniston gushed about their "sweet" reunion to ExtraTV, confirming there was no bad blood between the former couple. "We've all grown up together. We really have," she said. "It just feels like a really fun night to celebrate and cheer each other on and keep working."

According to a source cited by InTouch (via Metro), these two had apparently reconciled in 2017 after Pitt reached out to apologize to Aniston for their extremely public breakup. For her part, Aniston previously told Vanity Fair back in 2005 that she hoped they could find their way to being friends, so it looks like it just took 12 years.

Jennifer Aniston accidentally swore on live TV

Jennifer Aniston is no stranger to being in front of the media. She's given hundreds if not thousands of interviews throughout her decades-long career. But she's only human, and everyone makes mistakes sometimes. While appearing on the British breakfast program "This Morning" in March 2023, where she and her "Murder Mystery 2" co-star, Adam Sandler, were interviewed by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, she made a minor speech error — and unfortunately, the interview was live.

Aniston and Sandler have been laughing their way through their 30-year friendship and work partnership, and it was no different on the set of their Netflix sequel. Sandler recounted an on-set incident where Aniston had to fake falling off the Eiffel Tower. A little nervous, Aniston missed her mark, so Sandler jump-scared his co-star by giving her a helping hand via a little push. The "This Morning" hosts found the anecdote thoroughly entertaining. Laughing along, Aniston chimed in, saying Sandler did it "just for s***s and giggles," before realizing that she wasn't supposed to swear, pulling a face, and covering her mouth.

Willoughby quickly apologized to viewers, and Aniston said hopefully, "I'm sure you can bleep that." However, Schofield then reminded her the interview was live before playing it off as a funny mistake. Although all's well that ends well, it's certainly a media moment Aniston can never erase, since the clip lives on through the internet.

The Friends reunion will go down in pop culture history

Even though "Friends" ended in 2004, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey, and Ross never really left our screens. The cultural impact of the show can barely be quantified, but the Independent tried when they wrote, "'Friends' deftly married relatability with an aspirational quality (if at times unrealistic — hello that ginormous apartment) that spoke to lots of young people." And although some of the show's jokes have not stood the test of time, "Friends" continues to appeal to different generations and new audiences.

While the cast were pretty insistent that a reunion would never come, they reunited for a special show in 2021 — and "Friends: The Reunion" is another momentous moment that'll go down in pop culture history. The HBO Max special was filled with happy memories and funny anecdotes, but going back wasn't that easy for Aniston on an emotional level. "I think we were just so naïve walking into it. ... I'm already a little emotionally accessible, I guess you could say, so I had to walk out at certain points," she admitted to The Hollywood Reporter.

Aniston spoke about feeling like she knew what her life was going to look like both personally and professionally back then, and while she feels grateful to have had such a successful career, she found some personal reflections "jarring." Aniston concluded, "But again, everything's a blessing if you're able to look at life's ups and downs in that way. And if it all hadn't happened, I would not be sitting here the woman that I am."