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Jennifer Aniston Young: 16 Rare Photos That You Have to See to Believe

It’s difficult to think of movies and television shows of the 1990s and not immediately picture Jennifer Aniston. As the star of the hit series Friends, Aniston took the world by storm with her flawless portrayal of Rachel Green and the iconic haircut which has become known as “The Rachel” that millions of us emulated. But before there was Rachel Green and Friends, there was a young Jennifer Aniston beginning her renowned acting career and becoming the icon we all know and love.

Here, we take a look at a collection of must-see photos that show how she went from a scream queen to our favorite ‘Friend’ to the superstar she is today.

MUST-READ: Jennifer Aniston and Quinta Brunson Reflect on Sitcom Stardom, Loss and More: ‘The Greatest Gift’

Jennifer Aniston’s early life

Jennifer Aniston young: Jennifer Aniston as a baby
Baby Jennifer Aniston Jennifer Aniston / Instagram

Born in Sherman Oaks, California in 1969, Aniston was fated to be a star, as the daughter of acclaimed Days of our Lives actor John Aniston and actress Nancy Dow.

Aniston spent a year of her young life living in Greece but then moved to New York City. After her parents divorced at age 9, she started to focus on acting and her passion started to blossom after she joined the drama club at the Rudolf Steiner School at age 11.

Jennifer Aniston and parents; Jennifer Aniston young
John Aniston, Jennifer aniston and Nancy Dow Jennifer Aniston / Instagram

Aniston later went on to attend the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts, a performing arts high school in New York City. The high school is commonly referred to as The Fame school, based on the 1980 film, Fame.

Jennifer Aniston’s teen years

Yearbook photo of Jennifer Aniston; Jennifer Aniston young:
Jennifer Aniston, High School Yearbook Photo, Age 18 (1987) Getty

Graduating in 1987, Aniston started out working on off-Broadway productions, such as For Dear Life and Dancing on Checker’s Grave. While she was playing these roles, she was also working odd jobs to support herself.

In an interview with InStyle, Aniston recalled the different roles she held outside of acting. “I waitressed for years in New York before I got anything. And I was a telemarketer selling time-shares in the Poconos. I didn’t make one sale. I was terrible at it.”

Little did she know that in just a few years, Aniston would be waitressing in New York as character Rachel Green in Friends.

Despite her slow start to fame, Jennifer Aniston would soon be capturing the attention of the entire country.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Aniston didn’t book her first televised role until 1990, which was uncredited, in the movie Mac and Me.

Jennifer Aniston Young
Jennifer Aniston, Age 21 (1990) Getty

That same year, she snagged two short-lived roles: she played Courtney Walker in the series Molloy and she played Jeannie Bueller in Ferris Bueller the television series.

Jennifer Aniston young
Jennifer Aniston (1990)Getty

In her first interview with Entertainment Tonight, a 21-year-old Aniston explains her role in Ferris Bueller and the character she gets to play. “That’s what makes it fun, because you can just like go a little overboard, make it really crazy,” she told ET. “If he’s so crazy and out there, it makes it more fun for you.”

"Ferris Bueller" Jennifer Aniston Young
Jennifer Aniston, Charlie Schlatter, Ami Dolenz, Brandon Douglas in Ferris Bueller (1991) Television

Despite enjoying her roles, both series were soon cancelled due to poor viewership.

The beginning of an iconic career

Camp Cucamonga cast; Jennifer Aniston Young
Jennifer Aniston (back left) and the cast of Camp Cucamonga (1990)

In 1990, Aniston also booked a lead role in her first film, Camp Cucamonga, where she plays camper Ava Schector. She starred alongside Cheers alum, John Ratzenberger and Full House’s Candace Cameron Bure.

Aniston continued to book gigs on a different series, including comedy, The Edge, in 1992. This was a different project for Aniston, as it was a series of short comedy sketches and parodies, but it only lasted for one season.

Jennifer Aniston holding a gun in "Leprechuan" Jennifer Aniston Young
Jennifer Aniston, age 24, in Leprechuan (1993)

Then, in 1993, Aniston received a lead part in the film Leprechaun. Starring alongside Warwick Davis in this horror-comedy, Aniston felt she had really made it after booking the movie. In an interview with Howard Stern, Aniston recalled “I really thought I arrived when I did Leprechaun.”

However, it wouldn’t be until 1994 that Jennifer Aniston would truly capture our hearts.

Young Jennifer Aniston’s life-changing choice

After a few failed series and starring in two films, Aniston hit a lucky streak in 1994. She booked a part on the CBS series, Muddling Through, as Madeline Drego, the daughter of a woman who shot her husband for cheating on her.

While it seemed that Aniston was settled into a new series, one that was likely to get picked up for a second season, she got a call about another potential new show: Friends.

Friends; Jennifer Aniston Young
Jennifer Aniston (left) and the cast of Friends (1995) Getty

The creators of the hit sitcom, Marta Kauffman and David Crane were set on having Aniston in the series, even though she was already part of the CBS project.

Casting executive, Lori Openden, said in an interview with Vanity Fair, “We were taking a gamble that the show in first position wasn’t going forward. We auditioned other actors for Jennifer’s part, but nobody else was good enough. It was a pretty big risk.” 

Fortunately, Muddling Through was never picked up for a second season, and so the Rachel Green we know and love was born.

I’ll be there for you

Cast of Friends; Jennifer Aniston Young
Jennifer Aniston and the cast of Friends (1999) Getty

The series of Friends revolves around the lives of six twenty-somethings who rely on each other for support and love. In an interview from 1994, the cast sat down with Katie Couric of The Today Show to discuss what the show is all about.

Couric asked Aniston if the show revolves around one character or if it is about the interactions between the characters. Aniston said “It’s the entire cast together, working together. We communicate well, we have a great time during rehearsal.”

Ross and Rachel from "Friends"
Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer in ‘Friends’ (1995) Productions

Friends pushed Jennifer Aniston into becoming one of the most popular stars of the 90s. Her princess-y demeanor stole the hearts of America weekly and her TV romance with David Schwimmer’s character, Ross Geller, drove fans wild. From here on out, Aniston would always be known for Rachel Green.

Related: 10 Surprising Behind-the-Scenes Secrets About Matthew Perry’s Time on ‘Friends’

‘The Rachel’ haircut

Jennifer Aniston in 1995: Jennifer Aniston young
Jennifer Aniston in Friends with her signature layered haircut (1995) Productions

Aniston won over the world not only with her lovable, but high-maintenance character, but with her hairdo that caused a frenzy in the beauty industry. Now known as “The Rachel”, Aniston’s cut was created by her longtime hairstylist, Chris McMillan, for the Friend’s pilot. The craze for style defined the 90s but Aniston had a different opinion.

“’The Rachel’ was … horrible and … high maintenance,” Aniston said while speaking to Marie Clare. “I’d curse Chris every time I had to blow-dry.”

But despite Aniston’s disdain for the iconic look, it remained one of the most well-known details of Rachel Green.

Related: Jennifer Aniston Swears by This $15 Supplement for Ageless Skin and Full Hair at 53

Young Jennifer Aniston takes on the silver screen

Friends was nominated for and won numerous awards and quickly launched Aniston into stardom. Throughout the show’s run, she booked the lead roles in dozens of movies, including The Object of my Affection (1998) and Picture Perfect (1997).

Jennifer Aniston and Jay Mohr in "Picture Perfect"
Jennifer Aniston and Jay Mohr in Picture Perfect (1997)

In 2000, Aniston’s name made headlines again when she married fellow actor Brad Pitt. He even appeared as a guest star on Friends in 2001 as an old friend of Ross and founder of the “I Hate Rachel Green Club” in their high school. The couple later divorced in 2005.

Jennifer Aniston and Brad pitt in 2000
Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (2000) Getty

After the ending of Friends in 2004, Aniston continued to book more movies which only heightened her fame. Films such as Along Came Polly (2004), Rumor Has It (2005), and The Break-Up (2006) were wildly successful for Aniston.

Jennifer Aniston smiling in "The Break Up"
Jennifer Aniston in The Break Up (2006)

In the late 2000s, she starred in He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) alongside Ginnifer Goodwin, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper, among others.

Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck in 'He's Just Not That Into You'
Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck in He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

Jennifer Aniston made a name for herself with the hit sitcom and the countless movies that followed. Not only has she conquered the acting world but she’s also a credited producer for the film The Switch (2010) and her current series The Morning Show (2023).

Today, Jennifer Aniston is a household name. Not only did she rule the 90s as Rachel Green, but she continues to lead the entertainment industry around with her remarkable talent.

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