The Friends Reunion Was So “Jarring” For Jennifer Aniston That She Walked Out
“And it just took me by surprise because it was like, ‘Hi, past, remember me? Remember how that sucked?’”
For fans, the Friends reunion was one of this year’s streaming highlights — a chance to reflect on the show’s most memorable moments and catch up with a cast that, 17 years after the finale, is very much still there for you. Er, each other. But for the titular friends themselves, things were a little harder behind the scenes. Not because of any negative feelings or drama, but because revisiting your old haunts can be hard — whether it’s a school, hometown, or, in Jennifer Aniston’s case, the Burbank soundstage where she and her co-workers-turned-friends made TV history. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Aniston opened up about the challenges of returning to set and, in a way, 2004. “Time travel is hard,” she told the magazine in a Q&A published on Dec. 8.
“I think we were just so naive walking into it, thinking, ‘How fun is this going to be? They’re putting the sets back together, exactly as they were,’” the Morning Show star recounted. “Then you get there and it’s like, ‘Oh right, I hadn’t thought about what was going on the last time I was actually here.’ And it just took me by surprise because it was like, ‘Hi, past, remember me? Remember how that sucked? You thought everything was in front of you and life was going to be just gorgeous and then you went through maybe the hardest time in your life?’”
The experience was enough to make Aniston leave set several times. “It was all very jarring,” she explained, “and, of course, you’ve got cameras everywhere and I’m already a little emotionally accessible ... so I had to walk out at certain points. I don’t know how they cut around it.”
Though Aniston didn’t explain when she walked out, the cast’s initial entry to the set could be a good guess — if you rewatch the reunion, you’ll see she makes a bee-line for the tissues shortly after greeting David Schwimmer.
The Emmy winner also clarified that it was her personal, not professional, post-Friends life that brought on the emotional reaction. Her career’s “been nothing but blessed,” she said, but her expectations for what her future might look like “changed overnight.” The year that Friends ended, Aniston was still married to Brad Pitt — she’d even told The Guardian that she was ready to grow their family. “It's time,” she said in 2004. “You know, I think you can work with a baby, I think you can work pregnant ... I'm just truly looking forward to slowing down.”
But the couple separated the following year, and Pitt soon started seeing Angelina Jolie. Aniston, though, sees that post-Friends period with a new perspective today. “But again, everything’s a blessing if you’re able to look at life’s ups and downs in that way,” she told THR. “And if it all hadn’t happened, I would not be sitting here the woman that I am.”
Today, Aniston seems to be on good terms with both Pitt and her ex-husband Justin Theroux. She worked with Theroux on a Dec. 7 live Facts of Life special, and the two even snapped a sweet photo together.