8 Milestones in the Evolution of Jennifer Aniston

In Just Go With It, Jennifer Aniston plays the foil in Adam Sandler's latest crazy scheme to meet the woman of his dreams (or to take money out of your wallet, depending if we're talking about the film or real life). How did Aniston become America's box-office semi-sweetheart after her 10-year run on Friends? You can always trace a direct line through a handful of important roles (but not always the best roles) to illustrate what led to an actor's current success, and with Aniston, that line doesn't deviate too far from her core strength in romantic comedies -- but it did on occasion and it's sorely missed today. Let's look at eight performances -- including one of her earliest -- that trace the evolution of one Jennifer Joanna Aniston.

Ferris Bueller (1990)

Aniston's first role was in a 1989, pre-Blossom Mayim Bialik-starring television series called Molloy. After, she took a part in a television movie called Camp Cucamonga. But her first role of any significance was taking over the Jennifer Grey part of Jeannie Bueller in 13 episodes of the ill-fated Ferris Bueller television series that starred Charlie Schlatter in the title role. (In the pilot, Schlatter took a chainsaw to a cutout of the Matthew Broderick version of Bueller. This symbolic transfer of Bueller power never quite caught on.)

Muddling Through (1994)

What a strange idea for a sitcom: Jennifer Aniston plays Madeline, a girl whose mother served two years in prison for shooting (but not killing) her father. In her mother's absence, Madeline had to keep the family motel up and running. Here's where the hijinks ensue: When Aniston's mother returns from prison, Aniston's father now lives in the motel and Aniston's own character married the police officer who arrested her mother. Muddling Through premiered in July 1994, and its later episodes were actually airing when another show called Friends premiered on NBC.

Friends (1994)

Well, yeah. The only thing that can really be said is that Aniston, along with the rest of the cast, knew that they had a good thing going and didn't leave before the series ended in 2004. Anyway, here's The Rembrandts' video for the theme song to get stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

She's the One (1996)

Aniston's first film after landing the role of Rachel Green on Friends, (and only her second overall, with Leprechaun being her debut). The reviews were moderately good, but the underachieving box-office take left something to be desired. She's the One stars Edward Burns as a New York City cab driver whose ex-fiancé, played by Cameron Diaz... OK, never mind, just reading that last sentence aloud made the plot for this film seem extremely implausible. Regardless, Aniston is fairly good as the scorned wife of a stock broker -- and the film is much better than a lot of the dreck that she would star in over the next 15 years.

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