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GETS ON TRACK WITH
HER NEW FILM DERAILED
by Brad Balfour
After a decade
as a member of the Friends ensemble, Jennifer Aniston became a
household name and representative of a certain comedic style. Of course,
after the show ended she turned to mainstream features such as Bruce
Almighty and indie fare such as The Good Girl, but got
sidetracked by a the collapse of her marriage to Brad Pitt. With Derailed,
she gets back on track co-starring with Clive Owen in a crisp, tense noir
thriller about two people who try to start an illicit affair with tragic
Having done ten years of comedy, were you looking for dramatic roles in a
film like this?
I think you're always looking for good roles--comedic, dramatic, whatever it
is. So yeah, this came along at a perfect time, when it was like fate. As
far as what I'm going to do next, nothing is definite [though there are
several projects in post-production]. I need some time off, truthfully,
unless something wonderful comes along. Nothing has yet. I'm focusing on the
projects that I'm developing. That's Plan B.
With all the media attention directed at you how do you stay grounded
when your life almost gets derailed--what advice would you give people who
found themselves in a similar situation?
I'm not a role model or whatever, or the poster child for how to do
anything. It was my first time at this particular picnic. So, I just have
had a great family, and great friends. This is nothing out of the ordinary –
people walk through this stuff all the time. It's great having a creative
outlet and having work to do as well. And when I wasn't working that was
How would you describe your character in a way so that you don't give
away the secret twist to the story?
Well, I would describe her as a normal woman who is at a very mundane phrase
in her life, who meets this very intriguing, lovely man on a train. He
succumbs to temptation and they both have to figure out a way to get out of
the terrible consequences that they created for themselves.
This is a sexy, psychological thriller [laughs].
Since this is Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom's first American
production how was he to work for on this film?
This was such unchartered territory but I felt such a trust in everything he
said. There was never a debate, never any questioning. That was really
important. Having seen [his film] "Evil," meeting him and talking about his
take on how he wanted to play this, made it intriguing, because it's an
uncomfortable reality. There is a lot of discomfort watching this movie. Put
in the wrong hands, it could have gone that high concept glossy slick
thriller and it's not, far from it.
Was it scary to take that plunge?
Yeah, there was definitely a moment of "Uh gosh, I don't know if I can pull
this off." But then I had Mikael and enough people around me believing that
I could really pull this off. Thank God for directors like him who think
that it was interesting for him to take my persona and put it in this part.
I really appreciate that.
That was your "grateful persona"?
Yeah, whatever the persona is that has prevented me getting other roles like
What were your first impressions of Clive Owen?
He's great. It was instant ease and comfort with Clive and that doesn't
always happen. It was very easy to work together. We had similar
sensibilities about how to approach what we were doing; one didn't have a
The rape scene here but it didn't feel like a gratuitous element or fake
because such a horrible thing does happen.
did you handle it?
In filming [the scene] where our characters are in
the hotel room bed and start to make love when the blackmailer barges in and
knocks Charles out] to the rape took over a week. So we were able to block
it out and it was choreographed. So as Michael said it wasn't as hard to do
as it was to watch.
So you two sat down and worked it out beforehand?
Yeah, it terms of the technicalities.
But then LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) comes in and then no acting required.
[Laughing] Yeah, you're actually terrified. It wasn't that hard.
Without revealing the plot, your character's has a special experience
Have you met him? I truthfully thought Lucinda was at a place where she
actually thought she was stuck in a bad situation and felt a lot of Charles
[Owen] and possibly saw a window as a way out, possibly a new life or what
that would be like. You know how some destructive relationships keep you
trapped. I don't know if that answered anything for you.
Could you put away your character when the director yelled "Cut" after
the rape scene?
It wasn't difficult at all because it was so well choreographed. It was very
controlled and I was in such good hands with Vincent. He's a pro. He has
such control of his body. It's important as an actor not to be reckless,
especially in a scene like that. I felt so safe. They'd say "rolling" and
we'd be there and then they'd say "cut," and we were out of there. It's the
physicality, but it isn't that graphic. It's very quick and very jarring.
Then again, it put Vincent and his menacing [quality] on a roll.
How was it working with Xzbit [who plays LaRoche's equally menacing
As menacing and intense as he is, that's how sweet and kind he was. During
the one scene where he was holding a large gun to my head, he was very
concerned for my safety. He was worried about my safety and if I was okay.
He's really wonderful.
Do you think your part in Derailed – as a corrupted woman – will
debunk the label of
America's Sweetheart that you've been addled with?
Well, God I hope so! Being "America's Sweetheart"... that label gets put on
a lot of people. I don't pay much attention to that. I'm not trying to shake
anything. I'm just following my instincts and doing work that is coming to
me and I'm grateful for it.
did you do while you were shooting in
Chicago and were you recognized there?
Let me tell you every specific place I like to hang out so you can all come
there! [laughs] I absolutely loved it. I loved filming there. The
people are so kind and respectful; they'll leave you alone and let you do
your job. It has a lot of wonderful culture and great museums and great
restaurants. The lake is beautiful and there's a lot to do. The oddest place
I was recognized would probably be the steam room [in the hotel].
And how do you feel about the way the tabloids have covered your story?
I don't look at that stuff. I just don't pay attention to it.
And what's your favorite film of all time?
Terms of Endearment for its casting, the story and just everything
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Posted: November 7, 2005.