Chelsea Handler: ‘As If Jennifer Aniston Cares About Brangelina – It’s Ridiculous.’

Chelsea Handler, Hollywood's most outspoken female talk-show host - and Jennifer Aniston's best friend - talks abortion, Hillary Clinton and THAT divorce.

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by Grazia |

In a dark, cavernous and aggressively air-conditioned studio in Los Angeles, Chelsea Handler is recording a short video segment in support of Hillary Clinton.

The 41-year-old comedian, author and host of the Netflix talk show Chelsea has written a rhyme that includes a reference to Roe vs. Wade, the law which permits legal abortion in the United States, and which Donald Trump has vowed to repeal should he win the election on November 8.

It's of particular pertinence to Chelsea, who recently wrote about the two abortions she had aged 16, after getting pregnant by a boyfriend whom she describes as "not someone I should've been having sex with, never mind unprotected sex".

A vehement Clinton supporter, she tells her assembled audience for today's show that she 'identifies with Hillary's struggles'. "Do you know how many Jimmys and Jameses I had to elbow my way through to get my own talk show?"

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After making a name for herself on the US stand-up circuit, Chelsea wrote five bestselling semi-autobiographical books and became only the second woman ever after Joan Rivers to host a late-night US chat show. Chelsea Lately, which ran on the E! network for seven years, earned her a cult following for her caustic takedowns of celebrity culture, while she simultaneously became a part of that circuit, alongside her best friend Jennifer Aniston and an A-list Hollywood squad which includes Sandra Bullock and Jenny McCarthy.

Tune into her Netflix show now though, and you will find a more serious Handler.

"I always wanted to do this, to dig into contemporary politics," she nods, when we meet backstage. "Everything about this show is different from my old show. And I don't send emails from other people's account when they have left their computer open, so I know that I've grown up," she grins.

But Chelsea still occasionally enjoys rocking the celebrity boat. After the dramatic news of the Brangelina divorce broke last month, Chelsea called Angelina Jolie a 'f***ing lunatic' on air and wondered, wryly, why Brad Pitt - her best friend's ex-husband - 'would need to self-medicate'.

"I made one comment on my show that got completely blown out of all proportion," she moans. "I am being quoted as if I live with them."

Was she unfairly harsh, as others have criticised her as being? "No," she scoffs. "I'm just saying what everyone else is thinking."

However, these are far from being the casual observations of an outsider; Chelsea was one of a small group of close friends who accompanied Jennifer and her husband Justin Theroux on their honeymoon to Bora Bora last year, after their top-secret wedding. She is quick to dismiss the coverage of the divorce which suggested Jennifer was roaring with laughter at the news in some sort of karmic glee for Brad having left her for Angelina in 2005.

"It's so stupid and pathetic," she cries. "As if Jen cares – she doesn't care. It's ridiculous that people still drag her into this. Hello, as if she is sitting around even caring about this."

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Chelsea herself has long eschewed the notion of marriage, but, since turning 40, and filming a documentary on the subject last year she has started to come round to the idea. "I'm totally open to the possibility. Even though I have absolutely zero prospects," she laughs. "I don't think I've had sex since... I haven't even been on a date in a long time."

Her high-profile exes include the rapper 50 Cent, Ted Harbert, the chairman of NBC Broadcasting, and André Balazs, who owns the Standard hotels and Chiltern Firehouse. "I think I'm a difficult person to please," she shrugs. "I don't think [my being single] has anything to do with anybody other than me."

Her attitude to marriage may have softened; to motherhood, it has not. "I am never having a baby, I've never wanted to have a baby, and I knew that from a very young age," she says vehemently. "If someone left a baby on my doorstep, I wouldn't throw it in the garbage, but I'm not going to bring a child into this world – there are enough children in this world."

Jennifer has, of course, been the subject of endless speculation about whether she will have children, whether she is or is not pregnant, and, frustrated by the conjecture, wrote a piece for the Huffington Post in July this year. "I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up," she wrote.

"It was just so nice for her to finally respond to it," says Chelsea. "It doesn't matter how famous or rich or wealthy or, you are, you're still able to get your feelings hurt. That is a person, that's a human being that is constantly being scrutinized. I hope it helped people see the pain that it is causing with the presumption and the obsessions and the nonsense."

It's not difficult to see exactly why, if you were Jen, you would want Chelsea as your best friend. "I don't have any boundaries," she says, matter-of-factly. "I don't ever pretend I'm not doing something that I'm doing. The way people present themselves in this day and age is so false and fake and bullshit. I don't want to ever be like that - I want to be as real as I can."

She's incredibly open about her vices. "I think one of the reasons I am so vociferous about drinking and drugs is because there's no shame in that – there shouldn't be this idea that that's bad. You can go out and you can do drugs on a weekend and you can go to work five days a week. That's fine - don't attach it to shame."

Her upbringing in New Jersey was pretty real from the start. The youngest of six children, Chelsea's German-born mother, Rita — who died of breast cancer in 2006 — was a Mormon, while her Jewish father, Seymour, was a used-car salesman. "We had used cars sprawled across the lawn. There were tyres everywhere. I used to have my friends' parents drop me off three doors down," she says.

Where, I ask, did she get her incredible work ethic? "I grew up with my two inadequate parents constantly dodging phone calls from debt collectors," she says. "I didn't want, as an adult, to ever have my telephone shut off. I wanted the nice life. Materialistic as it may sound, I wanted a house where I could have beautiful parties and beautiful catering and cleaning ladies and a driver."

She now owns a mansion in Bel-Air, and a holiday home in Spain. "And I wanted to make my mark," she adds, seriously.

For all that her public persona is fearless and bombastic, there is a softer side. "I've definitely had my lows," she nods. "I've had moments when I've thought I'm not good enough, or maybe my moment's over, maybe I peaked and I should do something else now. But undoubtedly, the more I commit to taking risks, the more I'm always rewarded. A little bit of confidence goes a long way."

Unfiltered, unfazed, and not looking for anyone's approval, we could all learn a lot from Chelsea.

Chelsea's talk show is on Netflix now. New episodes appear every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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