[TV] Jennifer Aniston Almost Didn't Play Rachel In Friends Pilot
Posted by Joseph Lee on 10.10.2013
It was her sixth pilot at the time...
US Weekly reports that during the Television Academy presents An Evening Honoring James Burrows at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (on Monday, October 7), Jennifer Aniston revealed that she almost didn't play Rachel Green in Friends. Around that time, she was also involved with five other TV pilots. When Friends director Burrows and his audition with her, she was on the CBS sitcom Muddling Through at the time. He said: "We took her in second position, so [when] that show was cancelled, we were able to use her."
Aniston added: "Not knowing that though, I had to sit out when we were doing our cast photos."
When filming the pilot, she said she was asked by someone on the set: "'Who are you? What's your story?' And I said, 'Well, I'm doing a bunch of pilots and this is just my sixth pilot and I'm just hoping that it goes.' And he said, 'But you're on another show' and I said, 'Yeah.' And he said, 'You know they're going to pick that show up just to try to mess with Friends because this is going to be a great show.' And I was like, 'No. They would never do that.' And sure enough I remember we were at the upfronts and they literally came out with the announcement that they picked us up for three episodes. When we were shooting the first grouping of cast photos [of Friends] in front of that fountain, I was asked to step out of a bunch because they didn't know if I was going to be still playing Rachel."
She got the role in the series, which also starred Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. Before the show's popularity took off, Burrows treated them to a trip to Las Vegas "had a feeling about the show."
He said: "I took them to Vegas. We ate at Caesar's Palace in Spago. I had me and six of them and I said -- I don't know why I said this -- I said, 'This is your last shot at anonymity. I said, 'Once the show comes on the air, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded.' I knew the show had a chance to really take off. So I did that and then I said, 'Do you want to gamble?' and they said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Okay, go ahead.' And all six of them didn't have any money so they each wrote me checks for $200 and I cashed them. And that was it. They came back and premiered and they don't have a shot of anonymity anymore."
She said being a part of the show was one of the "most energizing experiences to date."
She added: "The energy of an audience, that sort of opening night jitters every Friday night or Tuesday night -- depending on when we were filming. Not knowing when that was going to happen and just sort of allowing that night to sort of be totally spontaneous -- of course knowing that we knew what we were supposed to do -- but there would always be surprising fun moments. It's an energy that film or single-camera now that is so popular is just not the same."
Finally, she said she missed the show and would "honestly go back to it" if there was a reunion.
She concluded: "If we could, I would. I don't think people would want to see us today."