Is Jennifer Aniston, the queen of romantic comedies, finally shedding her girl-next-door image?
The former "Friends" star could appear topless in her new movie, "Horrible Bosses," in which she plays one of three bosses, along with Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell, who drive their employees to try to murder them. Aniston plays a "sexually aggressive" dentist who harasses her male assistant, played by Charlie Day.
Aniston reportedly has filmed one topless scene -- a first for her at age 42. But whether the scene will remain in the film when it's released June 8 has not yet been decided.
The trailer, released earlier this week, provides a preview for just how far Aniston has come since she played Rachel Green on "Friends." Stripped down to her underwear, Aniston seductively eats a Popsicle, a banana and a hot dog.
"There's a whole bunch of things she does that couldn't be put in this trailer. Stuff you won't believe," director Seth Gordon told Entertainment Weekly. "It's really exciting to see her do something a bit further … afield, if you will."
That's not all. Later this fall, Aniston could also appear topless in Judd Apatow's "Wanderlust," in which Aniston and Paul Rudd play a couple who drop out of the rat race to become hippies. According to HollywoodLife.com, Aniston not only rips off her shirt, she smokes pot and has a threesome.
Maybe this new Aniston is hoping that going topless can do for her career what it did for Halle Berry's. If you recall, Berry went topless in "Swordfish" opposite John Travolta, before baring her skin in "Monsters Ball," for which she won an Oscar.
Or maybe she's hoping Apatow, creator of "Knocked Up," can work his magic on her. He has made stars of some of his actresses, notably Katherine Heigl.
Either way, Aniston could use the career boost. Her last movie, "Switch," came in eighth its opening weekend and was pounded by critics. It was the latest in a recent string of flops at the box office. Before "Switch," there was 2010's "The Bounty Hunter" with co-star Gerard Butler, 2009's "Love Happens," with Aaron Eckhart, and the dismal dark comedy "Management" with Steve Zahn, also in 2009, which earned a paltry $935,000 at the box office.
"It seems like she's been content to just play the Jennifer Aniston role, the girlfriend role, the sassy but strong woman along for the ride," Adam Markovitz, a film writer at Entertainment Weekly, told ABCNews.com. "It seems like she's been happy to repeat B-level romantic comedies that don't have a particularly great concept."
Film critics have been eager to see Aniston move on from the rom-coms that have made her rich to the heftier roles she began playing post-"Friends."
Markovitz suggests that Aniston look back to her groundbreaking role in 2002's "The Good Girl" with then-unknown Jake Gyllenhaal. "I would love to see her go back and take on a meaty role," he said.
In "The Good Girl," a small indie, Aniston played a discount store clerk who has an affair with a younger stock boy. Many thought she might do more such roles when "Friends" ended two years later. But, besides interesting roles in 2006's "Friends with Money" and 2005's "Derailed," Aniston has played it safe with romantic comedies.
Jennifer Aniston: Topless in a Meaty Role?
Some of Aniston's rom-coms have been hits, like "Marley and Me" and "The Break-Up." Others missed. Remember "He's Just Not That into You," or "Rumor Has It"?
But if Aniston hasn't pushed the envelope onscreen, she has done so for magazine covers. Appearing nude on the cover of GQ in January 2009, she told the magazine she feels more comfortable with herself now than in her 20s or early 30s. "I'm healthier. I'm more at peace in my mind and with my body," she said.
Now in her 40s, she seems to be ready to join other actresses who have bared all on screen after turning 40. Sandra Bullock, Mary-Louise Parker, Marisa Tomei and Kathy Bates all waited until after 40 to shed their clothes on screen. Diane Keaton was nearly 60.
"It's a way of reinventing oneself and reviving a career, UCLA film professor Vivian Sobchack told ABCNews.com. "It's an assertion of I'm still viable, I'm still here damn it, I'm still erotic and I still have sex appeal."
Markovitz said he believes Aniston is "just as vibrant as she's ever been." But he said she should use her experience and her long-time audience to stretch a bit. "Anything that shows a slightly darker side or more thoughtful side would be really cool," he said.