Jennifer Aniston has both flourished and suffered aplenty at the hands of the modern entertainment rigmarole. Despite her undeniable success, tabloids, the scroungy ones, have painted her for years and years as the beautiful-but-damned ghost of fame’s past, cursed to wander the Hollywood foothills forever moaning about some unfulfilled void of the family kind. It never rang entirely true, and yet it’s continued in various forms for years. It’s wild to think that all this time there were realer and stranger stories to tell beneath the surface.
Like, for one, her brush with Harvey Weinstein, the fallen mogul whose alleged pattern of coercion, both sexual and professional, brought the #MeToo movement to a head. (Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.) Aniston’s new Apple TV+ comedy, The Morning Show, looks #MeToo square in the face, so on the promotional circuit she’s opened up about her experiences with power dynamics and bullying in her career. The actor told Variety about her own brush with Weinstein the one time she worked with him, on the 2005 film Derailed. It sounded as though that was enough.
Aniston’s experience with Weinstein was limited to retail and general rudeness, she said. Once he made a friend of hers get up from the dinner table so he could sit with her costar Clive Owen and the other producers. “It was just such a level of gross entitlement and piggish behavior,” Aniston said.
And he tried to pressure her into wearing a Marchesa dress to Derailed’s premiere. Georgina Chapman was Weinstein’s wife at the time, and she had just started the Marchesa line, in 2004. “That’s when he came to visit me in London while we were shooting. He’d be like, ‘Ok, so I’d like you to wear one of these to the premiere.’” she said. “And I went through the book, and at the time, it wasn’t what it is today. It was not for me. He was like, ‘You have to wear the dress.’ That was my only bullying. And I was like, ‘No, I will not wear the dress.’”
The line, then as now, is ultrafeminine, unlike Aniston’s style, which is fairly committed to sleek structure and neutral tones. Though Marchesa continues to operate, the Weinstein scandal irrevocably tainted it, as actors like Jessica Chastain described how Weinstein bullied them into wearing the gowns, one of his many patterns of bullying behavior. Plus, the Daily Beast reported that Weinstein could still have a quiet financial stake in the company (the company has since denied the report). Though Chapman announced she stepped away from the business for a time after accusations mounted again her husband, the brand fronted a Fashion Week comeback for fall 2019, presented by Marchesa’s couture design director and the Marchesa Notte design director instead of its founders. By June 2019, the brand’s cofounder, Keren Craig, had left the business.
For Aniston, who at the time was wrapping her run on Friends, it was a bullying request she had the power to deny. Asked whether he “just accepted” her decision, she said, “Well, what was he going to do? Come over here and make me wear it?!”
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