Jennifer Aniston on Difficult Relationship With Mom: 'She Was Very Critical of Me'

Jennifer Aniston and Nancy Dow (Getty Images)
Jennifer Aniston and Nancy Dow (Getty Images)

It's no secret that Jennifer Aniston and her mother, Nancy Dow, have had a rocky relationship over the years, but the Cake star is opening up more than ever about their past in the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

"She was critical," Jen, 45, explains. "She was very critical of me. Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn't. I never was. I honestly still don't think of myself in that sort of light, which is fine."

Always close: Jen and John Aniston in 2012 (Getty Images)
Always close: Jen and John Aniston in 2012 (Getty Images)

Jen's father, Days of Our Lives star John Aniston, and Dow split when she was 9 years old. She ended up staying in New York to live with her mom while her father and brother went to L.A. During those years, Aniston says she turned to her father's mother, Stella, for support.

"She was a Greek grandmother who just loved me more than anything and was so fun to be around," Jen reveals. "She had the best stories, she made me laugh. Beautiful, funny, gorgeous, hysterical — all the Greeks, all of my Greek family, were."

Justin Theroux's fiancée calls her grandmother's death one of the most traumatic moments in her life. "I was around 21 years old, and it was the first time I'd had a loss. It was really sad. But then, like anything, you have to move on."

Aniston also eventually moved on with her mother. The two became estranged in 1999 when Nancy published the book, From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir, but are "all fine" now.

"She had a temper," she says. "I can't tolerate that. If I get upset, I will discuss [things]. I will never scream and get hysterical like that. [But] I was never taught that I could scream. One time, I raised my voice to my mother, and I screamed at her, and she looked at me and burst out laughing. She was laughing at me [for] screaming back. And it was like a punch in my stomach."

Aniston adds, "She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty."

Jen claims to hold no grudges and is forgiving "probably to a fault. There are people in my life that are like, 'How do you even talk to that guy?' But what's the point of holding on to [anger]? That's so toxic. We're human beings. Human beings make mistakes. Human beings are not perfect. And by not forgiving someone, it's not allowing human beings to evolve and become better people."

The SAG Award nominee has applied that mentality when it comes to ex-husband Brad Pitt as well.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (Getty Images)
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston (Getty Images)

"We're not in daily communication. But we wish nothing but wonderful things for each other," she explains. "Nobody did anything wrong. You know what I mean? It was just like, sometimes things [happen]."

If only that would silence the never-ending Brad-Jen-Angelina love triangle fabrications that are still splashed on tabloid covers 10 years later.

"If the world only could just stop with the stupid, soap-opera bulls--t," she declares. "There's no story. I mean, at this point it's starting to become — please, give more credit to these human beings."

Anger — while speaking generally, not in relation to Pitt — is something Jen says she is just discovering how to express. "I always thought, if you're angry you just don't say anything," she admits. "I would come out passive, things would come out passively. But it doesn't have to be black or white."

She continues, "You don't have to be a hysterical human being and have veins popping out of your neck and turn bright red and terrify people — or else keep quiet and put your head in the sand. I used to loathe confrontation. Loathe it. It was absolute. I understood anger, but I didn't know that you should express it. Which has been something that I've really tried to work on."