Jennifer Joanna Aniston (born February 11, 1969) is an American actress, film director, and producer. She gained worldwide recognition in the 1990s for portraying Rachel Green in the television sitcom Friends, a role which earned her an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.Aniston has also enjoyed a successful film career, having appeared in several Hollywood productions. She gained critical acclaim for her performances in the independent films She's the One (1996), Office Space (1999), The Good Girl (2002) and Friends with Money (2006). She has had her greatest commercial successes with the films Bruce Almighty (2003), The Break-Up (2006), Marley & Me (2008), and Just Go with It (2011).
Jennifer Aniston was born in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California to actors John Aniston and Nancy Dow. Aniston is of Greek descent on her father's side, and of Scottish and Italian descent on her mother's side. Aniston has an older maternal half-brother, John Melick, and a younger paternal half-brother, Alex Aniston.Aniston's godfather was actor Telly Savalas, her father's best friend. As a child, Aniston lived in Greece for one year with her family. They later relocated to New York City. Aniston attended the Rudolf Steiner School in New York, and graduated from Manhattan's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She worked in Off Broadway productions such as For Dear Life and Dancing on Checker's Grave, and supported herself with several part-time jobs, which included working as a telemarketer, waitress, and bike messenger. In 1989, Aniston moved to Los Angeles, California.Aniston was cast in her first television role in 1990, starring as a regular on the short-lived series Molloy and in the TV movie Camp Cucamonga.She also co-starred in Ferris Bueller, a television adaptation of the 1986 hit movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The series, however, was quickly canceled. Aniston then appeared in two more failed television comedy shows, The Edge and Muddling Through, and guest-starred on Quantum Leap, Herman's Head, and Burke's Law. After the string of canceled shows, along with her appearance in the critically derided 1992 horror film, Leprechaun, Aniston considered giving up acting.
Aniston's plans changed, however, after auditioning for Friends, a sitcom that was set to debut on NBC's 1994–1995 fall lineup. The producers of the show originally wanted Aniston to audition for the role of Monica Geller,but Courteney Cox was considered to be better suited to the role. Thus, Aniston was cast as Rachel Green. She was also offered a spot as a featured player on Saturday Night Live, but turned it down to do Friends. She played the character of Rachel from 1994 until the show ended in 2004.The program was successful and Aniston, along with her co-stars, gained world-wide reputation among television viewers. Aniston received a salary of $1 million per episode for the last two seasons of Friends, as well as five Emmy nominations (two for Supporting Actress, three for Lead Actress), including a win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. According to the Guinness World Book of Records (2005), Aniston (along with her female costars) became the highest paid TV actress of all time with her $1 million-per-episode paycheck for the tenth season of Friends.In 2007, Aniston guest starred in an episode of Courteney Cox Arquette's series Dirt, playing Arquette's rival, Tina Harrod. Aniston appeared in the third episode of Season 3 of NBC's 30 Rock playing Liz Lemon's old college roommate who stalks Jack Donaghy. On July 16, 2009, Aniston received an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role on 30 Rock. Aniston was a guest star on the Season 2 premiere of ABC's sitcom Cougar Town, playing a psychiatrist.While appearing on Friends, Aniston also started segueing into film roles. She made her film debut in 1992's Leprechaun which was negatively reviewed by critics, but was commercially successful and gained a cult following. Following a four year hiatus from cinema, Aniston returned to film work in 1996, when she played supporting roles in the independent films Dream for an Insomniac and She's the One alongside Edward Burns and Cameron Diaz. Aniston's first starring vehicle was the film Picture Perfect (1997), in which she starred opposite Kevin Bacon and Jay Mohr. While the film received mixed reviews, Aniston's performance was more warmly received, with many critics suggesting that she had screen presence. During the second half of the 1990s she starred in several films such as the ensemble romantic film 'Til There Was You (1997) with Dylan McDermott and Sarah Jessica Parker, The Thin Pink Line (1998), the animated feature The Iron Giant (1999), and the critically acclaimed comedy Office Space (1999). She gained critical acclaim for her performances in The Object of My Affection (1998), a comedy-drama about a woman who falls for a gay man (played by Paul Rudd), and in the low-budget 2002 film The Good Girl, playing an unglamorous cashier in a small town. The latter film opened in relatively few theaters—under 700 in total—taking $14M in the U.S. box office.