Jennifer Aniston Says Diane Sawyer Inspired Her Morning Show Character
Covering InStyle‘s October issue, Aniston, 50, explained that while preparing for her newest TV role, she used Sawyer, 73, as inspiration for her character Alex Levy, a news anchor who finds her world turned upside down when her work and life partner Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is apparently fired for sexual misconduct.
“I’ve known Diane for years, and I had the joy of getting to pick her brain when I was doing research for the show,” the actress told the magazine. “Diane’s always been so elegant and classy.”
While in the research stage of the series, which is based on journalist Brian Stelter’s book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, Aniston went behind the scenes at ABC’s Good Morning America, one of Sawyer’s previous places of employment.
The morning show’s ratings rivalry with NBC’s Today, as well as Today‘s handling of Ann Curry, was covered in Stelter’s work. The nonfiction book was published in 2013, several years before the #MeToo movement, which Aniston explained in her interview as intersecting with the series.
“The show was always about the abuse of power, and women and sexism,” she said. “We sold it in the summer, and then Harvey [Weinstein] happened in the fall.”
“Reese and I were like… ‘The show is writing itself,'” Aniston said. “It was as if the universe were begging for this patriarchal society to be exposed. It’s crazy.”
Added the actress of her character, “Alex’s sell-by date expired long ago, and she’s trying to stay relevant.”
The upcoming Apple TV+ series — which also stars Reese Witherspoon as Alex’s new co-anchor and potential rival — will deliver a “behind-the-curtain peek at a lot of things” in the news world, Aniston promises: “What it takes to pull off a morning show, the unique lifestyle of these anchors, the obsession with celebrity culture, and humanity in the midst of corruption,” she told InStyle.
“Plus we’re addressing the ugly truths of how men have treated women in our society, particularly in the workplace, for all these years,” she continued. “We’re looking at the ways in which we’ve all normalized this behavior and how we’re all by-products of our environment, having grown up with sexism encoded in our messaging, however extreme or subtle.”
“This show looks at how a culture of silence can slowly evolve and how we sometimes participate without even realizing it,” she added.
The series marks Aniston’s return to TV since the massively successful Friends, which ran for 10 seasons on NBC until 2004.
Aniston and Witherspoon, 43, have a history on the small screen: Witherspoon guest-starred in Friends as Rachel (Aniston)’s little sister Jill for two episodes during the show’s sixth season. The actresses are also serving as executive producers on the upcoming project.
The Morning Show will debut on Apple TV+ this fall.