As a character, Jennifer Aniston gets verbally abused by Tim Robbins, then kidnapped by bumbling idiots in Life of Crime. As an actress, Aniston says she is having the time of her life doing movies like this one.
"For me, it was just such a different role than usually does come to me," an upbeat Aniston told a Toronto film festival press conference Saturday. "So I was thrilled and I was honoured and it was riveting and wonderfully written."
Aniston spoke just hours before written-director Daniel Schechter's loving ode to novelist Elmore Leonard played as the official closing night gala of the 38th edition of the filmfest. Sadly, this is just three weeks after Leonard died, never getting to see how Schechter adapted his novel, The Switch. Happily, everyone involved thinks they have done justice to the memory of Leonard, who famously detested most movies made from his novels.
As for Aniston, she trusted Schechter almost instantly, so it was easy to say yes to Life of Crime. "I met Dan and it was pretty much a no-brainer because he was pretty much 100 percent clear on everything that he wanted."
Robbins, sitting next to Aniston at the press conference, said he felt the same way, finding it easy to say yes to playing the super-jerk married to Aniston. "At this stage of my career, I'm more interested in more quality stuff with a good script and a director that I really enjoy meeting. So it seems like a no-brainer to me, too. I wish more films were being made like this."
Robbins is 54 and in a ripe, relaxed state in his career. Aniston is only 44, but years past her star-making turn in the TV series Friends. "I'm just grateful to continue to be asked," Aniston said of getting roles in so many movies, most recently in Life of Crime, We're the Millers, Wanderlust, Horrible Bosses and Just go With It.
"I feel that I'm having a lot more fun playing characters that I can disappear into a little more than the norm. So, for me, it just feels like a wonderful second act. And I'm just thrilled, because we all have a lot in us. It's just about being given the opportunity and having somebody who's excited and enthusiastic and a visionary -- like Dan.
"As Tim was saying, at this stage I just want to do really good material and work with really wonderful people who are committed to doing just that. I'm not interested in egos -- exhausting time-wasters."
EVEN CELEBS HAVE MISERABLE MOMENTS
On-screen in Life of Crime, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Aniston had to act out a powerful hate in a marriage gone bad. In real life, they adore one another.
So to summon up that hate for Daniel Schechter's movie, Robbins and Aniston had to rummage around inside and remember some of the bad times they have experienced for real in the past with various lovers.
Then they had to transform those memories into the feelings their characters needed, especially because their edgy, angry characters originated in the Elmore Leonard novel, The Switch (which is what Schechter adapted for the screen).
"I would just say," Robbins explained to a TIFF press conference on Saturday before Life of Crime officially closed the festival, "that you try to get in touch with your inner miserable relationship."
"And we've all had that!" Aniston added.
"And we've all had that," Robbins agreed in an echo.
"It's just a nice little well to dip into," Aniston said, while wisely choosing not to name names or even hint which bad relationships have fallen into her well of memories.
But at the end of a shooting day in Connecticut on Life of Crime, Robbins and Aniston found ways to ease the pain.
"Big hugs," Aniston said of the best thing to do. "There is always usually the check-in: 'You okay?' "
"Yeah," said Robbins. "You feel terrible for having been so terrible."
Robbins said he would often want to say: "I'm sorry! I'm sorry I was that way to you!"
"That's okay," Aniston said. "I don't blame you. I blame Dan ... and Elmore!"
All in a day's work on Life of Crime.