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Justin Theroux shuts down lingering rumor about Jennifer Aniston split

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·5 min read
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Justin Theroux is discussing his friendly divorce with Jennifer Aniston — three years after their surprise split.

The star of The Mosquito Coast, 49, fielded a lot of questions about his famous ex, 52, in a new Esquire cover story. It gave him the opportunity to debunk the long-running narrative about why they split after two years of marriage, and he spoke about their current relationship status, which sees them still FaceTiming and, in non-pandemic times, hanging out together with the same famous friend group.

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Asked if it was true that they split because he preferred living in NYC to her home base of L.A., he said, “That’s a narrative that is not true, for the most part. Look, people create narratives that make themselves feel better or simplify things for them. That whole: ‘This person likes rock ’n’ roll, that person likes jazz. Of course!’ That’s just not the case. It’s an oversimplification.” 

While he didn't say what did lead to the decision, Theroux — who appears shirtless on the magazine cover along side dog Kuma — made it clear they're on very good terms for exes.

Actors Jennifer Aniston and Justin Justin Theroux arrive at the 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California January 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Jennifer Aniston and Justin Justin Theroux on the red carpet togeether in 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

“I would say we’ve remained friends,” he said. “We don’t talk every day, but we call each other. We FaceTime. We text.” 

When noted that is hard for many exes, especially married ones, Theroux said, “Like it or not, we didn’t have that dramatic split, and we love each other. I’m sincere when I say that I cherish our friendship. We can not be together and still bring each other joy and friendship. Also, she makes me laugh very, very hard. She’s a hilarious person. It would be a loss if we weren’t in contact, for me personally. And I’d like to think the same for her.”

When pressed further on the topic, he said, “I think that when you get good at relationships — and here I am, single — if you love the person the same way you loved them in the relationship, it would behoove you to love them the same way out of the relationship.” He added: “Who wants to take a sh** while you’re walking out the door?” (He also spoke about his own parents messy divorce when he was 6.)

Theroux's split with Aniston also didn't seem to be about him wanting kids and her not, another narrative constantly slapped on her. On the topic of kids, he said, “I don’t feel that compulsion. I don’t have a resistance to it, but I don’t have an eagerness for it." Though he added, it would be "amazing" if, "I got a knock on the door" one day and "someone said, ‘Hey, I’m your 16-year-old kid.’"

Theroux and Aniston share a large friend group — Jimmy and Molly Kimmel, Justin Bateman and Amanda Anka, Will Arnett — and Arnett told the outlet their transition from a couple to friends was "kind of seamless." He added, "It’s hats off to them for how much attention they give that, and how important it is to both of them to maintain that love. I think it’s really remarkable.” (Arnett should know, being friendly with ex-wife Amy Poehler.)

Theroux also spoke a lot about dating — not something he's been especially busy with due to the pandemic. Officially single since his divorce, he said he "never" use dating apps or slid into someone's DMs. 

“Sounds a little old-fashioned, but I actually like to get to know someone,” he said. And what he wants in a relationship is "Partnership. Like everybody.” He looks back at each relationship as a stepping stone to the next, explaining, "You meet different kinds of women in your life, who teach you different lessons about what gives you the best chances of success with being satisfied in a relationship."

But right now, after quarantining with just his dog, “What I’m most thirsty for now is friendship... Once that’s up and running, I’ll start thinking about the other stuff." And he added that the "one pivotal relationship in my life" is with his mother, essayist and author Phyllis Grissim Theroux.

And while he's gearing up for the April 30 premiere of Apple TV+'s The Mosquito Coast, part of the interview centered on The Leftovers — and how while making shooting it in 2013, a photo of him in tight sweatpants went viral. In the article, The Leftovers show creator Damon Lindelof apologized for playing up the viral meme when it was circulating.

“At the time, I just thought it was so funny that in a business and a culture that is constantly objectifying women, they were objectifying Justin,” Lindelof said. “Now, in 2021, I look back and it feels pretty yucky... Justin and I were friends — are friends — but I was also his boss. It was my job to protect him instead of saying, ‘Look at how funny it is that everybody is talking about your dick.’ ”

Theroux admitted, “It didn’t feel great. I don’t want it to happen again. But I wasn’t traumatized by it. Look, I’m not saying objectification doesn’t happen to men — of course it does. But there’s a kind of scrutiny that’s placed on women that isn’t placed on men. I have no idea what it feels like to have someone sell naked photos of me online. That kind of violation, I mean, I don’t know if I’d get over it. And it’s happened to women since forever. I think I have more sympathy for them than for myself."

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