According to the saccharine conventions of Hollywood, a famous actress should respond to questions about her love life in one of two ways: by either smiling sweetly and changing the subject, or delivering a short, ringing endorsement of the current state of affairs and declaring that past heart aches have only made her stronger. Pity no one told Jennifer Aniston.
In the latest edition of US Vogue, the yoga-loving Friends star has broken her silence about the role Angelina Jolie played in the collapse of her marriage to Brad Pitt in 2005, firing an extraordinary broadside at her fellow screen siren.
Her policy of silently casting herself as the woman wronged seems to have been abruptly shattered after Aniston took exception to Jolie telling readers of The New York Times how she'd fallen in love with Pitt on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith in 2004 – when he was still supposed to have been happily married.
In a perfectly-executed revenge that was pored over in detail by last night's entertainment news shows, Aniston first asked the reporter to switch off his tape recorder when Jolie was mentioned. But then she goes on to share things she wants "on the record".
"There was stuff printed there that was definitely from a time when I was unaware that it was happening," she announced, apparently shaking her head. "I felt those details were a little inappropriate to discuss. That stuff about how she couldn't wait to get to work every day? That was really uncool."
Having slid a dagger between Jolie's ribs, Aniston proceeded to wiggle it around, announcing that she was back on close terms with Pitt, to whom she is "unbelievably warm and respectful" after having been married for almost five years.
"We have exchanged a few very kind hellos and wishing you wells and sending you love and congratulations on your babies. I have nothing but absolute admiration for him," she said. "I'm proud of him! I think he's really done some amazing things."
Despite her public profile, 39-year-old Aniston has rarely discussed the tortured private life that, in the words of Vogue, makes many show-business pundits view her as "needy, and clingy, and obsessive about ex-lovers".
However, in the Vogue outing which marks her first major interview for a year – it was scheduled to promote her films Marley & Me and He's Just Not That Into You – she now claims to be happy with her lot in life. "I've said it so many times. I'm going to have children. I just know it!" she predicted, while modelling skimpy bikinis on Malibu beach.
Aniston also rattles indiscreetly through her roll-call of post-Pitt boyfriends. First, there was Vince Vaughn. "I call Vince my defibrillator," she says. "He literally brought me back to life. My first gasp of air was a big laugh! It was great. I love him. He's a bull in a china shop. He was lovely and fun and perfect for the time we had together. I needed that. And it sort of ran its course."
Then she discusses current squeeze John Mayer, talking about their relationship (and occasional splits) at length, before saying: "I deeply, deeply care about him; we talk, we adore one another. And that's where it is."
Nonetheless, rock star Mayer is nine years younger than Aniston, has a reputation for breaking hearts, and makes a strange choice of other half for a woman who is supposedly looking to settle down. "Did you ever think Claudia Schiffer and David Copperfield made sense?" she says, when asked about his boyfriend potential, glossing over the fact that the model and magician divorced. "It isn't designed. Love just shows up and you go, 'Oh, wow, this is going to be a hayride and a half'."
Aniston's decision to invite Vogue into her 10,000 sq ft Beverly Hills bungalow also lays bare some of the enduring pressures, perks and eccentricities of a film star's life. She employs a team of security guards, together with a British estate manager called Phil ("maybe don't mention that I have an estate manager... he's more like a butler") together with a full-time personal chef to concoct her favourite chop salads. Her door handles are bronze, and in the shape of hands ("to ward off evil spirits") and the décor has been inspired by a theme of "Hawaiian lanai meets Balinese Zen palace". The floors are Brazilian teak, it boasts a Japanese soaking tub, fireplaces that extend inside and out, and a swimming pool with a 20-metre waterfall along one side.
Despite being one of the biggest celebrities in America, her film career since quitting Friends in 2004 has hardly set the world on fire. As the magazine notes, she is also about to face the challenges of turning 40, in an increasingly ageist profession. "I'm not saying I'm 40," she said. "I'm 30-10. I don't feel 40. I don't know what it means. I just know that all of a sudden it's something that's in print next to my name. And now she's 40. It almost feels like some sort of badge of honour in a weird way."
While she may not live in the domestic bliss, or boast the six children, of Jolie (who is also younger than her by six years) Aniston nonetheless denied feeling jealousy towards her love rival.
"Just because at this stage, my life doesn't have the traditional framework to it – the husband and the two kids and the house in Connecticut – it's mine. It's my experience. I feel good. I don't feel like I'm supposed to be any further along or somewhere that I'm not. I'm right where I'm supposed to be."
Maybe so. But as the Hollywood media combs through her comments, Aniston may now be about to realise that there can be such a thing as protesting too much.Reuse content