This Resurfaced Jennifer Aniston Interview Has the Internet Raging—for Good Reason
The video is honestly disturbing to watch.
Last week, early-aughts conversations between David Letterman and Late Night guests Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan circled the internet and were scrutinized through a 2021 lens. Letterman questioned them about their addictions, prison sentences, and highly publicized mistakes, and by the end of each interview, both Hilton and Lohan were nearly, if not actually, in tears. And this week, another Letterman interview with Jennifer Aniston has bubbled back up to the surface after its 1998 debut—and it’s unclear how this kind of “humor” was ever funny.
Aniston stopped by The Late Show to talk about her film that had come that year, The Object of My Affection. At the top of the interview, she told Letterman that she often gets nervous for these televised interviews—”You, I especially get nervous,” Aniston said. “I love you, but I fear you.” It’s like she was foreshadowing something.
After Letterman asked if Aniston is often swarmed by fans, she said no, but then went on to describe an odd encounter with a woman in the steam room at her gym. Because this encounter took place in steam room, where everyone is naked, hilarity ensued with Letterman at the helm. And then…all of the sudden, Aniston’s hair was in Letterman’s mouth.
There’s no explanation for why Letterman decided to sidle up behind Aniston and attempt to eat her hair like a spaghetti noodle—he claimed it had “something to do with the steam room”—and Aniston was clearly unsure of how to react. She even pointed out that people in the audience reacted with gasps and horrified faces.
“That’s something that I’ll never forget,” Aniston said after pocketing the tissue Letterman gave her to wipe his spit out of her hair. Letterman then laughed at how frazzled Aniston was after the encounter, joking that he should send her to a “12-step program.”
It’s uncomfortable, weird, and bad. And the internet is not happy, and for good reason.
As is true for the interviews with Hilton and Lohan, combined with the paparazzi hysteria of the late ’90s and early 2000s, famous women were not taken seriously for their work. They were either sex symbols, out-of-control addicts, or virginal maidens who were not allowed to break free from their purity.
There was no room for or want for complex, multi-dimensional women who could tell their own story without shame. Tabloids spun their own narratives and shaped these women into whoever they thought would best sell magazines.
Letterman is certainly one of the biggest late-night offenders from this era and often flexed his ability to shape these women’s stories and take advantage of them for his own “humorous” gain.
Again, it’s unclear how making someone uncomfortable by physically harassing them in front of an audience was funny then. But one thing is for sure—it’s certainly not funny now.