“Has Jennifer Aniston Finally Found Her Happy Ending?”
That was the cringe-worthy headline plastered across the pages of USA Today on Monday, following the news that celebrity couple Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux had publicly announced their engagement.
“Justin Theroux had an amazing birthday on Friday, receiving an extraordinary gift when his girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston, accepted his proposal of marriage,” the actor’s representative told People.
But who is this mystery man who’s managed to, for the time being, expel the specter of her failed marriage to Brad Pitt?
Theroux, 41, was born in Washington, D.C., to Phyllis Theroux, an accomplished author and journalist who’s had her works published everywhere from The New York Times to The Washington Post, and corporate lawyer Eugene Theroux. He also happens to be the great-great-grandson of business magnate H.B. Hollins, through his mother’s side of the family.
Justin was a bit of a wild child as a youth, having been kicked out of several schools before the age of 14, but eventually got his act together and graduated from the Buxton School, an experimental boarding school in Williamstown, Mass., and then Bennington College, with a double major in visual arts and drama. Interestingly enough, at the age of 14, he attended his first prom, in 1985, with Rachel Grady, who would later be nominated for Best Documentary Oscar for Jesus Camp.
After college, Theroux became a fixture in the bustling early ’90s New York City club scene, working in the art department at legendary rave The Limelight—a church-turned-nightclub in Lower Manhattan, former owner Peter Gatien told The Daily Beast. He’d later display remnants of his nightlife past during a spirited interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where he break-danced for an eager crowd, as well as in the cult 2001 comedy Zoolander, in which he portrayed an evil DJ.
Gallery: Jen & Justin's Tabloid Saga
He soon broke into acting, making his debut in the 1996 indie film I Shot Andy Warhol and later popped up in memorable bit parts as Clarence the Cowboy—who makes out with a Goth Janeane Garofalo—in 1997’s Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Patrick Bateman’s slick finance co-worker in American Psycho, and a cuckolded Hollywood director in David Lynch’s 2001 classic, Mulholland Drive. Theroux also turned in a memorable cameo during the second season of the HBO series Sex and the City as Vaughn, an author who suffered from premature ejaculation. His first role in a blockbuster came as the ripped Irish villain Seamus O’Grady in 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.
A supporting turn opposite Ben Stiller in the 2003 comedy dud, Duplex, led to the two actors sparking a friendship that soon crossed into a professional relationship when Stiller hired Theroux to co-write his 2008 comedy blockbuster, Tropic Thunder. On the set of Tropic Thunder in 2007, Stiller introduced Theroux to Aniston, who had co-starred with Stiller in the comedy hit Along Came Polly.
“I thought he was very sweet and he was always very nice,” Aniston later told PopSugar of their first encounter. “But I remember thinking he was very dark. At first you think he could be like a serial killer, but he is actually the nicest person in the world.”
Tropic Thunder proved to be such a critical and commercial hit, grossing $188 million worldwide and earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Robert Downey Jr., that Downey personally recommended Theroux to script Iron Man 2, the sequel to the marvel superhero smash. Despite mixed reviews, the film was a huge hit, grossing more than $623 million worldwide.
“At first you think he could be like a serial killer, but he is actually the nicest person in the world.”—Jennifer Aniston
Theroux and Aniston crossed paths again in 2010 during the making of the comedy Wanderlust about a married New York City couple who escape to a hippie commune in rural Georgia. At the time Theroux was involved in a 14-year relationship with stylist Heidi Biven. Aniston, who was on the rebound from a tabloid-heavy relationship with musician John Mayer, denied that any funny business went down during the making of the film, later telling Good Morning America, “Nothing happened on that movie … it’s a rumor,” she said. “It’s the easy rumor, but nothing happened. We were just friends.”
On May 19, 2011, the pair were photographed dining together with a group of friends at West Hollywood’s Sunset Towers Tower Bar, and stepped out as a couple during a June 6 MTV Movie Awards after party in L.A., along with Aniston’s Horrible Bosses costar Jason Sudeikis. Two months after that, the pair reportedly moved into a rental property together in the Hollywood Hills, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Just a month after that, Aniston’s former husband, Brad Pitt—to whom she was married from 2000 to 2005—spilled about his marriage to Aniston in an interview with Parade magazine, saying, “I started to get sick of myself sitting on a couch, holding a joint, hiding out. It started feeling pathetic,” adding, “I think my marriage had something to do with it.” Aniston took the news in stride, and in December 2011 she and Theroux sent out a cute, joint Christmas card. And two months later, the couple rescued a boxer–pit bull mix and named it Sophie. “She’s the most adorable little cookie you’ve ever seen,” Theroux told New York magazine. “She looks like she just smoked an exploding cigar.”
The movie-musical Rock of Ages, co-written by Theroux, was released on June 15 to mediocre reviews and box office, grossing just $50 million worldwide. Despite the failure of that film, Theroux is attached as a screenwriter for a number of high-profile Hollywood projects, including the highly anticipated Zoolander 2, for which it is rumored he will make his directorial debut, as well as an HBO pilot he’s developing with comedian Steve Coogan.
Also in June, Aniston and Theroux were spotted vacationing in Paris, and then aboard a yacht in Capri, Italy. Despite rampant rumors that the couple had hit various rough patches, they announced their engagement on Aug. 12, 2012—the same week Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were heavily rumored to be getting married.