Jennifer Aniston: The sex-mad dentist will see you now

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The Independent Online

In the wake of a handful of deftly delivered crude remarks, Jennifer Aniston has changed her career around. After languishing for years in the doldrums of lacklustre romantic-comedy fare, with Horrible Bosses she has seized the opportunity to demonstrate once again that she's not just a pretty face, she's a fine comedian too.

As I talk to Aniston today, she is buzzing with energy, loving the attention she's getting for playing a lascivious dentist who pumps her patients with gas so she can have sex while they sleep in the chair.

It's a character far removed from Rachel, whom she played for a decade in TV's Friends, and all those repetitive cutesy roles that followed; Just Go With It, The Switch, Love Happens and The Bounty Hunter in the space of the past two years alone.

"I've never played a character so inexcusably raunchy and there was no way I could resist it," she admits. "The dialogue and the situations are so outrageous and fun. I jumped at it immediately.

"It really stretches the limits and crosses boundaries and Dr Harris is way out in front on all counts: guilty as charged."

Horrible Bosses is her best role in years – a potty-mouthed man-eater in an all-star ensemble comedy in the same vein as Bridesmaids or The Hangover. She has also, cleverly, aligned herself with a calibre of actor that tends to elevate this kind of R-rated comedy, namely Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Donald Sutherland.

If many actresses would run screaming from a script that demanded she simulate oral sex with a banana, a popsicle and a hot dog, instead she laughs saying: "Yeah, that was a proper meal!" And on breaking the ice with her co-star, Charlie Day, the victim of her character's sexual harassment, she says: "I've never been on a set like this – within 20 minutes, I was straddling him in lingerie. I was bizarrely comfortable in these scenes, almost more than I would be playing the normal girl-next-door, and every scene was kind of crazy but that was really the fun of it," says the actress who doesn't wear just any dental coat; she is clad in a short, tight couture coat beneath which she's either topless or flaunting expensive lingerie.

She agrees that she's satirising male sexual behaviour for her latest screen incarnation. "That's what I think was so fun about it, sort of being a female that's usually the male character. I thought of her as kind of like a guy and that made it that much more fun."

She can relate to the role of a sexually confident woman. "Are men intimidated by sexually confident women?" she muses. "Yes, I think men are intimidated by any woman who's sexually confident, no matter what age.

"I think getting older means you get more comfortable in your body and in your skin and who you are and you have more of a 'f*** it' attitude. You're so careful and controlled in your twenties and you're just more aware of your every move. Now, I think there's just more of a freedom and a comfort and none of it really matters as long as you're enjoying yourself and having a really good time."

For a while Aniston, 42, clearly wasn't having a good time, particularly in the aftermath of the departure of her husband Brad Pitt, six-and-a-half years ago, who left her for Angelina Jolie, giving rise to years of "Poor Jen" tabloid headlines and tiresome theses on "the woman scorned". Then there were the doomed relationships with Vince Vaughn, John Mayer, Gerard Butler and male model Paul Sculfor.

Today she has hitched her wagon to actor-writer-director Justin Theroux, 39, nephew of the travel writer and author. On her wedding finger she wears a much-talked about gold ring and matching watch, identical to that worn by Theroux, whom she met last year on the set of their upcoming comedy Wanderlust, although he is only now going public after he untangled himself from a long relationship with a previous girlfriend.

Under the guidance of Theroux, Aniston has grown in confidence in other aspects of her life, taking control of her own destiny by finally tackling the many projects her film company has on hold for development.

She has long wanted to make The Goree Girls, a 1940s-set musical centered around a group of incarcerated female Country-and-Western performers, and is in talks to finally get that moving with a slated 2013 release date.

She also recently stepped into the director's seat to shoot a TV film, Project Five, an anthology of five short films exploring the impact of breast cancer on people's lives, with Demi Moore and Alicia Keys directing other segments, and actress friend Patricia Clarkson featuring in her portion.

Project Five is slated to air in the US in October, breast-cancer awareness month, with distribution rights to other countries still under discussion.

"I actually love the directing experience because, having been acting for as long as I have, I've been observing for so many years," she says. "It was fun to discover how much you actually know even not having gone to a film school of any sort. There's an instinct from just being around it as many years as I have so I enjoyed it."

'Horrible Bosses' opens on 22 July

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