Jennifer Aniston on 'Cake' Role: 'I Felt Like I Went Back to Class'

The actress stars in “Cake” as Claire, a woman suffering from chronic pain.

A stark contrast from her lighter roles such as Rachel on “Friends,” which she’s won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a SAG ensemble award for, Aniston is now receiving rave reviews and a slew of Best Actress nominations for darker “Cake” performance.

“I felt like I went back to class,” she explained. “Doing all of those wonderful acting, the exploration of a character and all that stuff. It’s been so long since I’ve had to, or ever had something like this to dive into. I’m thrilled. It was exciting to keep challenging myself.”

Aniston said she was drawn to Claire’s character although she couldn’t necessarily relate to her situation.

“I don’t think many people could,” she said. “I find human beings so extraordinarily resilient when you see what some people walk through and then continue to live and life after having something so tragic happen to them.

“I related to her humor,” Aniston added. “I for one, and I think a lot of us who have gone through difficult times, to various degrees of difficultly, find humor as a way to get through it. I also loved that because it felt like you were getting a window in this former shadow of who she once was.”

The “Cake” actress has received an outpouring of support from people dealing with chronic pain in their personal lives that are appreciative of the film bringing attention to something many people “don’t think is real.”

“They feel as though, ‘Oh c’mon, you can fix that, or go get help, stop whining, stop complaining,” Aniston said of the misconceptions about chronic pain. “It’s been incredible. The amount of people saying, ‘No one’s ever told a story about chronic pain.’ I’ve had people with shrapnel and they’re living in agony every day. So many wonderful people saying, ‘I have so much more compassion and understanding for my mother,’ or whoever it is in their lives that are exposed to chronic pain. It’s not something you can get diagnosed because you’re just trusting the sufferer.”

Aniston is thrilled the film is bringing up “a great discussion.”

“I think that’s what we want to do when we make our movies,” she said. “Comedies we love because God knows we need to laugh and escape and disappear and have a little fluff here and there, but this is also important to me. I’m so grateful for our director Daniel Barnz for taking a shot and saying yes.”