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Jennifer Aniston, Sofía Vergara and the Drama Actress Roundtable

Jennifer Aniston, Sofía Vergara and the Drama Actress Roundtable

“I don’t know if anybody told you, but none of us knows what we’re doing,” announces two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster halfway through the Drama Actress Emmy Roundtable. She’s surrounded by two more Oscar winners — Expats’ Nicole Kidman and Lessons in Chemistry’s Brie Larson — who nod in agreement. The True Detective star continues, “and that’s the real beauty of it, having that freshness of doubting yourself.” Over the course of an hour at The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, that trio, along with The Morning Show’s Jennifer Aniston, Shogun’s Anna Sawai, Griselda’s Sofía Vergara and Feud’s Naomi Watts, discuss everything from mentorship to menopause.”don’t know if anybody told you, but none of us knows what we’re doing,” announces two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster halfway through the Drama Actress Emmy Roundtable. She’s surrounded by two more Oscar winners — Expats’ Nicole Kidman and Lessons in Chemistry’s Brie Larson — who nod in agreement. The True Detective star continues, “and that’s the real beauty of it, having that freshness of doubting yourself.” Over the course of an hour at The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, that trio, along with The Morning Show’s Jennifer Aniston, Shogun’s Anna Sawai, Griselda’s Sofía Vergara and Feud’s Naomi Watts, discuss everything from mentorship to menopause.

Anna Sawai, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Jodie Foster, Brie Larson and Sofía Vergara were photographed April 28 at The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

Who here has ever lied to land a job? 

NAOMI WATTS Oh, for sure.

BRIE LARSON We all lied and said that we knew how to ride a horse, and we couldn’t.

NICOLE KIDMAN I can ride a horse, but I did lie about ice skating. Not a good one to lie about. 

JENNIFER ANISTON I might have not been fully honest. I said I couldn’t ride a horse, just because I didn’t want to ride the horse. 

WATTS Oh, I definitely added special skills to my résumé back in the day. Multiple languages, lots of weird sports. 

SOFÍA VERGARA I didn’t lie to get a job, but I lied to my agents so they’d take me when I moved to L.A. I said I could sing and dance. Why not? I didn’t think they were going to send me out. Then they sent me to an audition for Chicago on Broadway.

EVERYONE No!

VERGARA But I got the part.

LARSON What?! 

ANISTON Then what happened?

VERGARA I played Mama Morton in Chicago.

ANNA SAWAI Oh my gosh.

JODIE FOSTER So, lying pays off.

Jodie, you’ve been known to reach out to young actresses and offer advice. What prompts the outreach and what do you tell them?

FOSTER I guess I fancy myself as some kind of mother figure. If I see somebody drunk and on their face at an event, for example, I might be like, “So, what’s going on?” Because I feel for them, and I really am grateful for my mom getting me through all of that. Somehow I managed to have a series of rules that allowed me to survive.

Jodie Foster Styled by Samantha McMillen. Ralph Lauren jacket; Max Mara top; Attersee pants; Neil Lane Couture jewelry. Hair and makeup by Brett Freedman.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

For the rest of you, what would have been helpful to hear when you were still early in your careers?

WATTS Just allow yourself to be you and not compare yourself to other people. I lived very much under the radar for about 10 years, auditioning, and I was always finding myself in a waiting room with 10, 12 people, going, “Oh God, she looks sexy, I should be sexier. I wore the wrong outfit.” Or, “She looks intelligent, let me put some glasses on.” 

FOSTER That you can say “no” was a big one for me. 

ANISTON Yes!

FOSTER That’s what is good about this new generation. They’re very comfortable saying no, setting boundaries and going, “I don’t like that, and I want to do this.” I didn’t know that was possible.

Brie, I’ve heard you talk about your early days as a pop singer, and I’m amazed by the gumption you had as a young teen to push back and say no to things that didn’t feel right or good to you. Where did that come from and how was it received? 

LARSON Oh, not well. I’m just more comfortable with how uncomfortable it makes people that I’m very clear about what a yes and a no is for me. I’ve learned that if I can understand what a no is and be able to say it before I’m upset about it, it actually just avoids a lot of drama in the end. And the thing I like to remind myself is that you all can have what you want with me on set, but I have to go home and live with myself. Not to say I have a perfect track record. Of course, there were times where I was like, “Please, someone love me.” But my team used to joke that I was saying no before I was allowed to say no. I was like, “I’m not doing that.” Or, “That’s inappropriate.” 

SAWAI And your team was supportive of that?

LARSON Yeah, they were. 

SAWAI Oh, nice. Because I was working in Japan for a while [also as a pop star], and they were like, “To say yes is the most mature thing that you can do. Always say yes, don’t really tell us what you want. We’ve been doing this for the longest time, so just trust us.” It’s only been in recent years that I’ve started to get used to saying what I want. And it’s so refreshing because my team will be like, “What do you want to do?” And I’m like, “Me?” 

KIDMAN I still have trouble with no. Part of what we do is dive into things that are deeply uncomfortable. And I’ve had to teach myself to not always go, “I can’t do that.” My initial reaction can be that instead of, “OK, ease into it.” Because I need to be coaxed sometimes. I’m still finding that compass.

Brie Larson Styled by Samantha McMillen. Attersee vest and pants; Anita Ko jewelry. Hair by Bryce Scarlett; makeup by Nina Park.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

Brie, I’ve also heard you say that if you hear someone’s going to be playing a superhero, you’ll reach out. What kind of tips do you find yourself sharing?

WATTS Wait, you’re a superhero mentor?

LARSON Always. I’m the first person to email everybody because it’s very specific and very strange. People are like, “I don’t know how to do this.” Yeah, no one does. Why would you? I’ll say, “Train, because you’ll want to be as prepared in your body as you possibly can because it only gets harder as the job goes on. And really understand how to be able to go to the bathroom in your suit.” The first Captain Marvel, it was a 45-minute thing to get me in and out of that costume.

ANISTON There wasn’t even a little secret trapdoor?

LARSON No! That’s why I’m like, “Get a plan.”

ANISTON Yeah, a little zipper.

LARSON I can’t stand when people have to wait for me to go to the bathroom, so I’d have to time it out. 

WATTS Oh, that would give me anxiety.

ANISTON You can’t have a sip of water.

LARSON It’s a whole thing, and it’s a lot of pressure. And I think it’s a strange thing, especially when you’re a newcomer and you’re tasked with being the most powerful blah, blah, blah of blah, blah, blah, and you feel scared. It’s so hard to be the cool, confident one when you’re like, “Do I know what I’m supposed to be doing?” 

For everyone, how would you describe the current era that you’re in, in terms of the projects that are coming your way? Jen, a few years ago, you said you were being offered a lot of dark material …

ANISTON Well, living in that dark space as a comedian, ultimately, when I started, it’s really hard. That’s why I listen to SmartLess on my way to and from work [on Morning Show], just to laugh and get out of that [headspace]. I don’t live in my character, which I know some people do. I choose to just get rid of it as fast as I can. And then I usually say, when I’m done [with the season], “I need a comedy right now.” 

Jennifer Aniston Styled by Ryan Hastings. Stella McCartney vest; Bottega pants; Jessica McCormack jewelry. Hair by Chris McMillan; makeup by Tracey Levy.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

How about you, Sofía?

VERGARA I feel very awkward here because this is my favorite group of actresses, and I realize I don’t know anything about acting.

ANISTON What? No!

VERGARA Not in a bad way, it’s just a reality. I did 11 years on Modern Family, but it was almost playing myself in a way. I never went to an acting class in my life. And when I decide to do something different, it’s hard because this accent is beautiful, but it’s like, I cannot be a scientist, I cannot be an astronaut.

FOSTER Sure you can.

VERGARA If I produce the movie, maybe, but it’s going to be not great. 

KIDMAN (To camera) That’s what she wants next.

VERGARA Oh no! (Lifts up her breasts) I don’t want to be a scientist with these. (Laughter.) That’s why, for example, when I decided to do Griselda, I wasn’t thinking, “Oh, I want [to distance myself from] Gloria. No, it was I know that character. I lived in Colombia in that era. My brother was a drug dealer and got killed. But I’ve never seen it as a woman — I knew it as many, many men. Then I said, “Maybe I can’t do it. I’m going to find out who Jennifer Aniston [who also transitioned from a sitcom to drama] worked with.”

ANISTON I was just going to say, every time I go to work, even when I start the next season of The Morning Show, I’ll think, “I don’t know how to do this.” It’s like I have absolutely zero memory of how to be an actor.

VERGARA I was like, “[Which acting coach] did she go to to prepare?” And I found …

ANISTON Nancy Banks?

ANISTON Yes! I said, “Can you maybe help me with this thing? I’ve never done this, but I want to.”

ANISTON I’m so happy that happened.

Sofía Vergara Wearing her own clothes. Hair by Clariss Rubenstein; makeup by Sabrina Bedrani.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

What comes your way now?

VERGARA Comedy, of course, which I love. I don’t want to be Gloria again, but I cannot take this accent away no matter what. I tried at the beginning of my career. When I moved to L.A., I’m like, “I cannot believe Penélope Cruz or Salma Hayek don’t change their accent, they’d have so many more opportunities. I’m going to do it.” Then I spent so much money and time with people teaching me, and it was a fucking waste. (To Kidman and Watts) You know how to do every accent in the world.

KIDMAN Oh, with help!

WATTS But it’s funny. Nic, do you find if you play Australian, you have to get coached?

Is that true?

KIDMAN No! (Laughter.)

WATTS OK. Well, yeah, she’s much more Aussie than me. She’s a proper Aussie, I’ve got some British in there.

KIDMAN Can you hear that? (In a British accent) “I have some British in there.”

WATTS But I’ve changed my accent for so many different shows and characters, I forget where my own voice is sometimes. Because you work so hard to be understood. 

VERGARA Imagine, that’s my life! (Laughter.) 

Anna, I’ve heard you say you initially feared that Shogun would be another depiction of Japanese women being sexualized by white men. How many other scripts had you read before this where that was what was occurring?

SAWAI It wasn’t just Japanese women being sexualized. It was that they were defined by the relationship that they had with the male character, or we didn’t really understand their story enough, they were always just like the sub-character. And oftentimes when you hear Japanese women, you think, “Oh, they’re obedient, they’re sexy or they can do just action somehow.” And that’s not who we are — we’re so much more complex. And even if we appear obedient, it’s because society has made us that way and there’s so much that’s bottled inside. And in Western media, I’d never seen a complex woman who had their own story. So, when I first read the sides, it was my character going into a bath with the white pilot. I was like, “OK, this is going to be the same thing.” I played it in that way and they didn’t call me back. 

Anna Sawai Styled by Karla Welch. Rowan Rose dress; Anita Ko jewelry. Hair by Christopher Farmer; makeup by Yukari Bush.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

So, what changed?

SAWAI I had a conversation with our showrunner and he explained it wasn’t that kind of scene. He wanted it to be just a conversation. So, I taped again and played it like she wasn’t really taking off her kimono and they were just …

VERGARA Equals?

SAWAI Yeah, and they liked me. So, once that happened, I was like, “OK, this is the type of women that we haven’t been able to see, that I’m sure Japanese women when they watch it will see themselves reflected in.” And, in the end, with that bath scene, we actually had Blackthorn in the hot spring, but my character just walked in and sat down and gazed outwards. And it’s even more intimate because you know that there’s nothing physical about it. I’m lucky that we’re finally being able to give a portrayal of real Japanese women.

WATTS Brilliant.

For others, what are triggering terms in character descriptions that make you say, “Not going to do this”?

LARSON “Broken but beautiful.” Or “beautiful but she doesn’t know it.” (Pantomimes a face-palm.) I’ve read that so many times. I read it last week, probably. 

FOSTER For most of my career, I was always shocked that so many of the scripts that I read, the entire motivation for the female character was that she’d been traumatized by rape. That seemed to be the only motivation that male screenwriters could come up with for why women did things. … She’s kind of in a bad mood, yeah, there’s definitely some rape in her past.

Oh my. 

FOSTER Yeah, rape or molestation seemed to be the one kind of lurid, big emotional backstory that they could understand in women. And I didn’t take it personally. But once I was old enough, I think I did have a responsibility to come in and say, “You’re not always going to get the most perfectly fleshed-out female character, but maybe there’s an opportunity for us to work together and create something that way?”

KIDMAN Which is why I think now we’re all working hard to put women at the helm because the viewpoint suddenly becomes very different.

Anne Hathaway said something recently that surprised and disturbed me. “Back in the 2000s,” she said, “it was considered normal to ask an actor to make out with other actors to test for chemistry. … I was told, ‘We have 10 guys coming today and you’re cast. Aren’t you excited to make out with all of them?’ ” She wasn’t excited, of course. But who here can relate, and what were your versions of it?

KIDMAN To be excited to make out with someone? I think maybe secretly I’ve been excited. (Laughs.)

ANISTON I haven’t been told you’re going to have to lay down and …

WATTS Simulate?

ANISTON Yes. And if asked, I would never.

WATTS I have. Just once, and it was very awkward. I was auditioning and I didn’t get the job, so clearly I did not do a good make-out. It was with a very well-known actor. It was mortifying because we didn’t hear a “cut,” and it just kept going.

VERGARA Oh, no.

WATTS Then they were like, “OK, OK.” And we both were like, “Oh, sorry, we didn’t hear …” I did feel a bit rattled.

Naomi Watts Styled by Jeanann Williams. Brandon Maxwell top and skirt; Rainbow K, Jenna Blake jewelry. Hair by Danilo Dixon; makeup by Mary Wiles.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

The very idea of a chemistry read is an uncomfortable thing for a number of reasons, including if you don’t have chemistry, you typically see these people again. 

KIDMAN Also, you can not have chemistry, and onscreen, it’s made.

ANISTON Yes! 

KIDMAN There’s a way you can shoot things. I think just relying on chemistry is lazy. There’s the writing. There’s the interaction. You can literally be directed through it. 

ANISTON Also, when you’re in an audition room, you’re already at a disadvantage. Maybe you’d have chemistry with this person if you were in a different environment and not, like, “Create chemistry. Ready? Go!” And I’m a terrible auditioner, always was. I waitressed forever before I could finally get something, which was a Bob’s Big Boy commercial. So, if you’re a nervous auditioner to begin with, to then say, “Now let’s have you make out with a complete stranger,” it’s very uncomfortable.

WATTS It’s impossible.

KIDMAN Yeah, direct me! 

ANISTON Put some music on or something.

WATTS Some people are really good at auditioning, but I was shockingly bad too. I could feel the energy in the room where people were like, “Hurry this along.” I’d even go, “Yeah, don’t worry, I’m out of your way in one second. You don’t even have to look me in the eye and shake my hand.” It took meeting David Lynch, who’s a master of filmmaking, and he just sat and talked to me [for Mulholland Drive]. He said, “Tell me about yourself.” And I fell into it, this conversation. I was like, “Wait, really? You want to take time with me? You want to know shit about me and how I was raised and all of that?” And then I got the job. I didn’t even have to audition.

KIDMAN And then something happened, right?

WATTS Oh, yeah, we made the pilot, and then ABC canned it because it was too weird. It was too David Lynch. It took the French producers to come and say, a year later, “Can you make it into a feature?” And he did, and it was a game changer for me.

Sofía, you’ve said you brought Griselda’s rage home with you. How did that manifest and what tricks have you all learned to leave characters and emotions at  work?

VERGARA I’ve only done Modern Family, really, so I didn’t know what I was walking into. And when I arrived, I realized this is different, and it’s hard when you have to cry and kill and choke and snort cocaine and drink alcohol. And I’d never in my life touched a cigarette. Never. I had to learn, and to learn at 50 years old to smoke and you’re going to be in every single scene smoking. OK. The first three weeks, I’d go home and I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

Griselda

Courtesy of Netflix

What would it look like?

VERGARA I couldn’t fall asleep. I decided to take Xanax because I had to wake up the next day to go again. It was either I start sleeping or I’m going to die. I was talking to Nancy, too. I was like, “Nancy, I don’t know if I’m going to survive this.” She’s like, “You’re an actor now.”

ANISTON It’s so interesting because the way she works is that you’re unlocking some stuff that you’ve very wonderfully been [pushing] down into the depths of your body.

VERGARA Yeah! And I come from Colombia, I’ve had a lot of crazy stories, it’s why I knew I could do Griselda, but those were the things that my whole life, to keep my sanity, [I buried.] Then here comes this woman who tells me, “OK, bring it out.” I don’t know how you guys do it all the time, those dramas. Comedy is so much nicer.

LARSON I agree. 

FOSTER I’ve done almost no comedies in my life. 

Would you like to, Jodie?

FOSTER I enjoy them for the first two weeks. And then after two weeks, I’m like, “I can’t do this one more minute longer.” (Laughs.) I find drama much easier.

WATTS I do, too. I get nervous that I’m going to screw up the joke. “The joke is coming, oh God, oh God. Panic, panic.”

FOSTER For me, I’m genuinely an introverted person, and in order to keep the energy on the set, you need to be a more extroverted person. It’s just not natural to me at all. So, after two weeks, I’m exhausted.

Nicole Kidman Styled by Jason Bolden. Balenciaga jacket and skirt; Maison Merenor jewelry; Gianvito Rossi shoes. Hair by Adir Abergel; makeup by Gucci Westman.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki

Nicole, you once came home from a rough day on Big Little Lies and threw a rock through a door …

KIDMAN Whoa, that’s right! I threw a rock because [the door] was locked and I couldn’t get in. I’d never done that in my life. I obviously [had a lot] pent up. I broke the whole thing. It cost a fortune. (Laughs.) And then I went back the next day and I said to Alexander [Skarsgard] and Jean-Marc [Vallée], “I threw a rock through the window,” and they were like, “Whoa …” I said, “I was kind of pissed off.” But there’s a way in which we operate where the show must go on, and so you just keep going — you show up and you do it and do it and do it and do it. And a lot of times, it’s six months of 12-, 14-hour days and there really isn’t the time to go, “I need to take care of myself.”  

And yet, you keep playing the darkest of roles.

KIDMAN After Expats, I went and did a comedy because I went crazy with my own psychology. I was like, “This is unhealthy.” And it’s something that I think we need to talk about as actors — protecting your body so that you can live for as long as you are given on this earth. Because it’s very tough on the psyche.

VERGARA The body doesn’t know that what you’re going through [isn’t real].

KIDMAN It doesn’t. But the idea of being able to go and get a massage or a hot bath or even a pat on the back, just someone touching you and going, “It’s OK.” 

See Also

ANISTON Got a little teared up when you just said that. 

KIDMAN But the reach out for each other is so important.

Expat; Lioness

Glen Wilson/Amazon; Greg Lewis/Paramount+

Brie, you play a character that men inherently distrust and dislike simply because she’s a woman. I couldn’t help but see a correlation with the vitriol you’ve received from the male-dominated superhero world for playing Captain Marvel. Did you see it, too?

LARSON I don’t know if it’s specific to Marvel. I only know my experience, and my experience is being underestimated at times.

Do you draw from that for a character like this?

LARSON Of course. I think the best I’ve been able to find with characters I play is that they’re all me, it’s just a mixing board. It’s like if you’ve ever watched a musician and they’re mixing their music. It’s like, “Oh, that’s that lever.” And I’m just messing with those all the time. It’s a wonderful experience. When you’re like, “Oh, I can throw a rock through a window, I didn’t know that was in me.” Those are some of the, I hate to say joys, because I’m sorry you threw a rock through the window, but these are the things where you learn.

WATTS The discoveries.

LARSON Yeah, and these are things that are living inside of you that I don’t know if you would’ve given a life to [otherwise]. And sometimes they’re really beautiful and sometimes they’re sad or scary or keep you up at night, but I feel like my life is enriched by all of those things. The hardest part for me has not been committing to the characters, it’s getting out of them.

Lessons in Chemistry

Courtesy of AppleTV+

Do you have tricks?

LARSON I basically haven’t done anything as dark as Room since Room, because it took me a year to get out of it. And it was really scary. It took me a long time to be able to just do basic things that I used to enjoy in my life. So, yeah, you hope that you have the grace of a line producer who’s scheduled it so that there are moments where you can offload. With Lessons in Chemistry, I didn’t have that, [and it was made harder because my] character won’t let anybody see her emotions. Eventually, I was like, “You have to put a pop-up tent on set, and that’s where I’m going to go cry.” Because sometimes it feels so intense and I’m like, “I can’t do it anymore!” So, you have to find ways to offload. I put a lot of board games on set. You have to find what works for you.

VERGARA (Holds up her martini) Drinking. (Laughter.)

For all of you, who in this industry has helped you navigate the tougher or lonelier parts of this life? 

WATTS I mean, Nic has definitely been a guiding force for me.

KIDMAN You for me, too.

WATTS Not to date us, but it’s a 40-year friendship … 

KIDMAN And it did not start in acting.

WATTS No, it started down at the pub.

KIDMAN Can we stop? (Laughter.)

The Morning Show

Erin Simkin/Apple TV+

LARSON Over the years, I’ve gone out of my way to make friends with other women in the industry because there was usually just one woman on a job. It was just me, and there are things that make me uncomfortable or things that I’d like to change or to laugh about, and connecting with other women has been a game changer because you get to swap stories.

ANISTON It’s so true. And not even having to do with the work, but just life. (Turns to Kidman) When we did that movie in Hawaii [2011’s Just Go With It], you helped me out on a lot of hard things that I was going through. Just to have that community, it’s very helpful.

WATTS And not all of our mentors are on the set. If I can gush a little, Jodie … We’re only a few years apart, but your career was obviously so underway for such a long time and you changed my life with your performances. I still remember The Accused

KIDMAN And you were a baby then, and you’re so well adjusted.

WATTS How did you do it?

FOSTER Well, it gets better, right? The generation before us kept telling us that things were just going to get worse — we’ll hit 40 and it’s over. And I have to say, I’ve never been as happy as an actor as when I turned 60. There’s just some kind of contentedness about it not being all about me and walking onto a set and saying, “How can my experience or whatever my wisdom is, how can it serve you?” Bringing that to the table, not only is it more fun and more freeing, but it’s also easy. It’s super easy because you’re not filled with anxiety about the things that maybe younger people are filled with anxiety about. 

WATTS Did I read you were done doing lead roles?

FOSTER I just got bored with it. And I’ve learned so much from new voices — (to Sawai) from seeing your character, for example, in Shogun — who’ve finally been given the freedom to air themselves. I want to hear them and I want to support them. It’s so much more fun than being number one on the call sheet and having to carry the burden of the narrative.

True Detective: Night Country

Courtesy of HBO

Anna, have you found those people to guide you yet or are these six women here about to be them?

SAWAI I’ve not had enough experience to be like, “my journey” and “this person has helped me so much.” It’s little bits of advice from a lot of co-stars and people behind the scenes. But I actually have a question [for Foster] because now you do meet so many females on set, but growing up in the industry, how was that for you?

FOSTER I never saw another female face except for the lady who played my mom and possibly in makeup or hair, but in the old days those were also men.

SAWAI So, how do you navigate that?

FOSTER I had these wonderful brothers and fathers, and I’m always grateful for them because they taught me the lessons of film sets. They were like, “You write thank-you notes.” I felt like those brothers and fathers, they were a family. And then, little by little, as women came on to movie sets, it was just this fantastic thing. There would be one other female on set and then there would be two and then maybe three. And that kept growing — except there were never female directors.

KIDMAN See, I met Jane Campion. Not a wallflower. And everyone would do what she said, so she was a great role model.

FOSTER You were lucky. But there’s this misconception that somehow female actresses are at each other or they don’t like each other or whatever. Even this year, going to the various events [for Nyad], it always just feels so nice because the women really feel like they want each other to succeed. Like, Nicole, I took over a movie that you had to leave.

KIDMAN Yes! And thank you. I was in a really bad way. I was like, “I’m having a breakdown.” And Jodie took over, thank the Lord.

Shogun

Katie Yu/FX

Naomi, in the past few years, I’ve heard you talk as much about your struggles with menopause as I have your Hollywood projects. And you initially worried about the impact on your career of doing so. How did you ultimately decide it was worth it? 

WATTS I started late, by Hollywood standards — I was 31 when Mulholland Drive finally launched. I was also told, “It’s going to be over by 40, so work, work, work.” And then, when I was at the precipice of wanting to start a family, I was 36, and I was told I was close to menopause. I went into this frantic panic, a lot of shame and fear. I’m skipping over a lot, but I was able to have children and then went straight into menopause with hard-core symptoms in my early 40s. And I felt like if I ever dared to mention that word, I would be branded as redundant, finished, off to pasture. It’d be career suicide to bring that into the room. But then I was like, “This makes no sense. We’re half the population. Everybody’s going to go into menopause at some point, so why shouldn’t we be talking about it?”

ANISTON Mm-hm.

WATTS When you learn about the symptoms and how long they can go on for, it’s like, “Why can’t we find the support?” And it’s not just the physiological support you need, it’s the emotional support. So, I just went, “Fuck this, let’s just talk about it.” And in terms of my career, I felt like, “Well, if it spooks everyone, that’s a bummer, but hopefully it actually does the opposite because the longer the life, the richer the stories.” We don’t have to play just the cranky, old, scary ladies anymore. 

FOSTER (Waves hands) I’ll play all the cranky, scary ladies. (Laughter.)

ANISTON That goes back to, “What would your earlier self have loved someone to prepare you for?” That would have been a nice bit of information because you go into it sort of blindly. Like, some alien is taking over your body and it doesn’t make sense. It affects you in your life and in your work.

WATTS So, for your generation … (Looks at Sawai and Larson

VERGARA It’s going to happen to you, too!

WATTS But it’s going to be OK, because doctors are actually now getting training.

ANISTON And it all depends on when your mom went through it, which I didn’t know. And it helps to have that information. OK, let’s not talk about this …

LARSON I like it. It’s a different kind of roundtable now.

Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans

Courtesy of FX

How do the rest of you decide which pieces of you, whether it’s fertility struggles or the impetus for a divorce, are worth sharing? 

ANISTON I just think the older you get, the more “fuck it” you get. 

VERGARA You care less.

ANISTON You just do.

This story first appeared in the May 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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