Friends

Jennifer Aniston Says a Producer Told Her ‘Friends’ Was ‘Not Going to Make You a Star’

Friends was the last TV comedy Jennifer Aniston ever did. She occasionally guest starred, but didn’t star on another TV show until 2019’s The Morning Show, and that’s a drama. Before Friends, Aniston was on a ot of comedies that did not last including the sketch comedy show The Edge and a Ferris Bueller TV series. One of her former producers was none too impressed with Friends.

Friends: The Reunion cast sits on the couch in front of the fountain
L-R: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc | Terence Patrick/HBO Max

The cast of the hit sitcom reunited on HBO Max for Friends: The Reunion. Aniston shared the story of her disapproving producer and Friends producer Kevin Bright, as well as creators Marta Kaufman and David Crane, explained why they had to let Aniston do another show at the same time. You’ll find out a whole lot more in Friends: The Reunion premiering May 27 on HBO Max.

Jennifer Aniston landed another show before ‘Friends’

When Bright, Kaufman and Crane were casting Friends, Aniston was already filming another sitcom for CBS. They wanted Aniston so much for the role of Rachel, they took the risk of casting her anyway.

“She had already signed onto a show called Muddling Through,” Bright said. “They had already shot 6 episodes of this show so it was a little bit more than just the pilot.”

Kaufman said they were essentially gambling on Muddling Through getting canceled. 

Jennifer Aniston and Stephanie Hodge sit on the set of Muddling Through
L-R: Stephanie Hodge and Jennifer Aniston in Muddling Through | CBS via Getty Images

“We took this big risk to cast her, share her with this other show and see who wins,” Kaufman said.

Crane said that had Muddling Through turned into a hit, Friends would have lost Aniston.

“We even shot not only the pilot but probably three episodes of Friends while that show was still on television,” Crane said. “If CBS had picked it up, we would’ve had to reshoot the first three episodes of Friends.”

Jennifer Aniston begged ‘Muddling Through’ to let her go

By the time she did Muddling Through, Aniston had been on several pilots that never went to series, and even the ones that did were short-lived. She just needed to work.

“First of all, I had a graveyard of failed pilots,” Aniston said. “I’d done a pilot a year. I thought that’s what you do.”

Friends felt different to Aniston. That’s when she wanted out of Muddling Through.

'Friends' cast sitting around a table
L-R: Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox | Terence Patrick/HBO Max

“I just remember sitting with these five other people and thinking this is the greatest group of people, the greatest script, I have to do this,” Aniston said. “I actually, with tail between my legs, hat in hand, went to the producer of the show I was on, because they hired me in second position and said, ‘Please, release me from this show. I love this show that I’m doing right now, nothing against your show. I just love these people and I am having so much fun.’”

The producer of ‘Muddling Through’ had to eat his words eventually 

Friends would take the world by storm during the 1994 – 95 TV season, That took industry people by surprise when it aired. Aniston said her Muddling Through producer threw shade at Friends, but Aniston quickly proved right. 

“He goes, ‘I saw that show. I’m going to tell you something. That show’s not going to make you a star. This show is going to make you a star,’” Aniston said. “Enough said.”

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