Jennifer Aniston’s character in “Wanderlust” runs away from the modern life she and her husband (played by Paul Rudd) share to live in a Utopian, free-love commune in rural Georgia. The actress admits the impulse to disappear isn’t all that unfamiliar. “Every day, yes,” she says of feeling that way. “I mean, for me, going to Clarksville [Georgia] and shooting this movie was a version of that, honestly, because there were no paparazzi and there [were] no secret little tricky cell phone pictures being taken. It was just this great community and these amazing people.”
Maybe getting into the hippie spirit of the film’s premise helped, but Aniston says she ended up learning a lot about herself just by the change of environment. “For me, I really realized how walled I was, and not consciously so, but just this armor that I kind of have, protective armor from — not my friends or people in my family — but just being outside in the world, always on guard or whatever,” she says. “There’s this sigh of relief after Week 1 just knowing, ‘Oh this is like John Travolta in “The Boy in the Bubble.”’ It was like, riding on a horse, out of the bubble!”
The image she’s conjured reduces her to a fit of laughter, but there was a serious sense of self-improvement for Aniston to take away from the “Wanderlust” production. “It was special, it was really special ... to kind of get back in touch with that part of myself and that anonymity,” she says. “I really made a conscious effort to know, ‘Don’t wall up like that.’ I think you kind of miss out on a lot of stuff if you’re so protected and isolated, in a way.”
That being said, Aniston is pretty realistic about whether she could actually handle living in a place like Elysium. “I don’t think I would,” she says. “I think going for a little bit would be sort of ... interesting.”
If she did run away from her life as an actress, what would the “Wanderlust” star do instead?
“Well, there was the period where I wanted to be a therapist if the acting thing didn’t work,” she says. “I don’t know why, I just liked talking to people. I was always the girl that people would come to and talk about their problems. Still am.” Truth be told, Aniston says she never gave too much thought to other career options since acting was always what she was after. “I had a good feeling about it,” she says. “I wasn’t so, ‘God I hope this happens.’ I was waitressing and waitressing and waitressing, and doing this, that and the other thing. I was auditioning — I couldn’t get hired to save my life, but I would do off-Broadway theater, and that was great. I was thrilled, being like, ‘It’s off-off-Broadway, but there’s still the ‘Broadway’ in there!’”