Hollywood’s former star couple Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt reunited on screen after 19 whole years, and like the internet, I too am finding it impossibly hard to keep calm. At a pre-scheduled time, with minimum disturbance, I sat down yesterday to relish their reunion at the hour-long table read of one of the most defining youth movies for me – Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It was a charity event, the proceeds for which would go towards COVID-19 relief. But in a twisted way, it was a charity for those of us watching as well. Because the event had assembled 12 big names from the film world, each with a legacy larger than the last. That one hour was better than most hours in 2020.
I remember watching Fast Times many years ago as a teenager. Everyone who’s a fan knows, that aside from Sean Penn’s iconic stoner character Jeff Spicoli, Amy Heckerling’s 1982 film was largely made iconic by that one infamous scene. (Fans, I see you smirking already.) It is the one where Brad Hamilton’s character is fantasising about high-school “sex queen” Linda Barrett, and well… having a private moment to himself in the bathroom, when who should walk in on him but Linda herself. Embarrassing for them, scandalous for us watching. But all in all, highly memorable.
Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, And A Belief In True Love
Now, imagine this entire scene being played out in front of an audience of millions by Aniston and Pitt – who are unarguably still the hottest people in the world even at 50 plus – with a narration read out by God’s voice himself, Morgan Freeman. It was nothing short of a dream come true. At least for every 90s kid who, like me, had grown up in the new millennium on a healthy dosage of pop culture gossip.
Aniston and Pitt met in 1998 and got married in 2000. It was a heavily publicised high-profile union that seemed to check all the boxes – both actors were supremely good-looking, among the highest-paid celebrities, and most importantly, were hopelessly in love with each other. They looked like a dream team with an easygoing relationship, always symbolic of the hope that true love was rare but possible. Not just in America, but across the world.
Then 2005 came, and they split. Rumours flew that Pitt had cheated on her with Angeline Jolie, whom he began dating soon after their divorce, and eventually married. And that was that. People showered Aniston with sympathy, and the ultimate message that went out to those of us listening was: Love ends in heartbreak.
This Meet-Cute Had The Other Panelists Swooning Too
Through the years, Aniston and Pitt seem to have cultivated a cordial friendship, which fate is culminating in 2020 repeatedly. First, it was their backstage meeting at the SAG Awards in January – a hug, a giggle, and a very filmy wrist-grab – which had sent fans reeling with mad pleasure. And now, it was the Fast Times table read, with the steamiest sequence of the film allotted to the former couple. Whoever made it happen was extremely cheeky, but I’m indebted to them.
I never thought I would see Aniston say, “Hi Brad, you know how cute I always thought you were” in this lifetime, even if for a role. Neither did anyone else, including, it seemed, the other stars at the reading – most visibly Matthew McConaughey and Julia Roberts, who could not stop grinning at every interaction the former couple made.
Here is an exhibit:
— Kristy Yang (@KristyRiceball) September 18, 2020
During the intro, where the actors were all greeting each other, Pitt made it a point to address Aniston directly. “Hi Aniston” – “Hi Pitt” – “How you doing?” – “I’m good honey, how’re you doing?” – “I’m alright.” With big, goofy grins and transfixed eyes, the rest of the panel members looked on as a class of euphoric kids who had been rooting for a certain couple to come together. And it was happening at last.
Even as I watched this reunion, all dewy-eyed and overwhelmed, I was aware that whatever was happening was only make-believe. And yet, I found myself believing wholeheartedly in it. Perhaps because it played out an old fantasy of Aniston and Pitt together and reaffirmed, in a way, my own belief in perfect love. Outside this bubble, I know it is an unfair expectation, selfish even, keeping in mind their messy past. But witnessing Pitt and Aniston’s easy comfort with each other makes it all seem a little better, as if telling us that swooning over them, even after all these years, is just fine.
Views expressed are the author’s own.