Is there a hairdresser in the land—from the tiniest midwestern strip mall to the toniest Manhattan salon—who has not heard the year's most oft-repeated command? Ends blown forward, sides puffed up—you know, I wanna look like her. In TV's last golden age, Mary made our nothing days seem worthwhile with her sweet spunk; Farrah needed only her fabulous feathered locks. Put them together, and you have the woman known to Friends
fans as Rachel: strong-willed, scatterbrained—in short, a national obsession for the '90s. But Jennifer Aniston
claims to be bewildered by all the fuss. "It's bizarre," says the 26-year-old actress. "I keep thinking, 'Wait—it's just me!' "
Five years ago, Aniston was a notch above nobody, floundering in the flop series Ferris Bueller
, agonizing over (you're gonna love this) split ends. "She kept a tiny scissors in the glove compartment of her car," says Bueller
costar Charlie Schlatter. "Every so often she'd pull a strand in front of her face and snip it." Today, she is only one member of the carefully balanced ensemble cast that has turned Friends
into a sitcom sensation. And yet each week, Aniston rises above the confines of her character—Rachel Green, the suburban princess turned coffee peddler—to embody the spirit of her generation: quirky, confused, hopeful that a decent cup of coffee is proof enough that reality doesn't always bite. "It's not just Rachel's situation people connect to," says the Manhattan-reared Aniston. "It's her essence."
Make that the essence of Aniston as well. "Jennifer can be a little distracted, like her character," says close pal and Friends
costar Courteney Cox Arquette
. "But she's so warm and funny. It's impossible not to like this girl." Remotes across the country second the affection.