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No one knows the value of a good hair day more than Jennifer Aniston. Take, for instance, her experience on the set of her upcoming film, “We’re the Millers.”
“It was about 100 percent humidity, so the frizz factor was through the roof,” Aniston said with a laugh on Sunday afternoon, the day before celebrating her 44th birthday. “I brought along Living Proof products with a healthy skepticism. I wore a half-wig on this film, and the girl who was washing the hairpiece wasn’t using my shampoo. So we would go outside and the rest of my hair would be totally tame and perfect, and the top [wig] part — which I called my toupee —would just start to look like pubic hair. It would take on a whole new texture of its own. I kept thinking, ‘This is funny. Someone should be rolling a camera on this, right here.’ ”
Laughing, she added, “For me and a lot of girls, hair is a big deal. There are a lot of greater trials of the world, but ask any girl — it’s one of those boxes you check off. If that means having a better hair day, that goes a long way.”
To be sure, Aniston’s hair has been a source of tabloid obsession since longtime friend and stylist Chris McMillan created the Rachel, a long choppy bob named for her “Friends” character, in the Nineties. So it’s natural that she turns animated when speaking about Living Proof, the Boston-based hair-care brand she bought into last October, and whose first national ad campaign breaks this week and features her.
She acknowledges that buying into a hair-care brand makes a certain sort of sense for her. “It’s nice when you feel like you’re a part of something that will make people’s day a little better,” she said, adding that she’d already been telling friends about Living Proof. “When I’m into something, I love sharing it with other people, whether it’s a face product, a great pair of jeans or shampoo,” she said. “I’d be talking about this even if I wasn’t involved, because for me and a lot of girls, [hair] is a big deal.”
But why not simply lend her famous face to the company? Aniston says it’s because Living Proof passed one of her most stringent tests. “With some products you can put it in your hair for a week and it will look fantastic,” she said. “And then it starts shooting you in the foot. Or your hair looks greasy the next day from silicone or something you don’t even know is in there. This still performed over a three-month period on a movie set, where your hair gets a lot of wear and tear.”
And she admits with a laugh that she had another motive: scientists on standby to create solutions for any hair dilemmas she could throw out there. “And them being willing and able to hear you and get in there and create all sorts of new products — it’s kind of a dream.”
McMillan became a believer after using Living Proof products in his Los Angeles salon, and signed on as a spokesman in January. “He’s the first person to say it’s crap if something doesn’t work,” Aniston said. She also relished the chance to work with her longtime friend. “When this came about, I thought [Chris] would be a fun addition to the group, and it all fell into place beautifully. Chris is an endless well of hair information. The world is his Barbie doll. He wants to touch everyone’s head.”
The brand’s first national advertising campaign, which breaks in March fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, features Aniston in a shot done by Mario Sorrenti with hair by McMillan.”When you have a group of people who work together that long, it’s just easy,” she said of her longtime friends. “You play great music and have fun, make your hair wavy, make your hair straight, whatever.”
When she’s not dreaming up new hair products, Aniston is keeping plenty busy at her day job, acting. She’s currently filming an untitled Elmore Leonard project in Greenwich, Conn. (She observed cheerfully of the recent snowstorm that dumped two feet of snow there: “At least it’s something pretty to look at.”)
“The book’s called ‘The Switch,’ but we can’t use that given I did a movie with the same name a few years ago,” she said, noting that the new film is a Seventies prequel to the movie “Jackie Brown.” “It’s a quick, five-week shoot, and we’re having a ball. The director, Daniel Schechter, really knows what he wants. It’s a dark thriller-caper comedy, and Tim Robbins and Isla Fisher are also featured.” She is in post-production on “We’re the Millers,” which also stars Jason Sudeikis and Emma Roberts.
Aniston has just signed on to do a Peter Bogdanovich comedy, “She’s Funny That Way,” with Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Cybill Shepherd. It is set to begin filming in New York City this summer, she noted.
While she’s got plenty of projects keeping her busy on the acting front, Aniston is determined to direct, preferably sooner rather than later.
“Absolutely, that is 100 percent in my future,” she said firmly, having developed a taste for directing with a Lifetime TV project, “Five,” which explored the topic of women living with breast cancer. It was bittersweet, she noted, given that numerous friends have struggled with the disease, “like Laura Ziskin, who was so close to beating it, and Sheryl Crow,” she said. “I want to be a part of stories that teach people and create awareness, that create forward motion and give back. Then I feel like I can go to bed peacefully.”
The newest round is entitled “Call Me Crazy” and deals with mental illness. “Which also now, thankfully, is being brought up. It’s quite topical. Who knew that when we were thinking of what the next round [of “Five”] would be about that it would be so in the news. I was hoping to direct one of the segments, but I didn’t finish work in time and it would have pushed the schedule too far. But I am wearing my producorial hat on that one, and I’m excited about that.”
Aniston has been working with her producing partner Kristin Hahn, with whom she runs Echo Films, to develop projects. She’s most passionate about getting “The Goree Girls,” an adaptation of a Texas Monthly article about a falsely convicted woman who starts an all-female band behind bars, on the big screen. “It has been two seconds from a green light [several times] and then something happens. But that’s something we’ve been working on for years, which is so beautiful and a deep passion project of ours that will find its slot in time. I will definitely be a part of it in some form — of course producing, but maybe be in it, I don’t know, direct it, I don’t know. But there’s a lot of great people who are out there who are beautiful writers. I have a lot of dreams in my dream catcher.”
Of the timing for her big-screen directorial debut, Aniston noted, “I’ve got to clear out the schedule a little bit. I was hoping to do one this year, but I had to be realistic and realize that if I was already going to be doing all these movies, I needed to [wait.] But that’s definitely happening.”
Still, she seems to be effortlessly juggling her various creative endeavors. “When it rains, it pours,” she says philosophically about the myriad projects she’s currently working on, which keep her from having much spare time to spend with fiancé Justin Theroux. But she doesn’t regret the whirl of activity: “I’m having a ball. I’m loving this movie, and [busyness] isn’t bad, because I’m enjoying myself.”
And unlike many Hollywood stars, Aniston has a refreshingly down-to-earth take on birthdays. “They just come rapid-fire,” she laughed when discussing her Feb. 11 birthday. “I feel like the last one just happened! I want to say, ‘Let’s sloooow down.’ I have fun all the time, so I’m not worried. I can have a form of a birthday any day. ”