“It was a sucker punch in the heart in a way,” Friends’ star Aniston told Gayle King in an interview on King’s SiriusXM show, Gayle King in The House. “We were very naive in what we were expecting. It was excitement. ‘This is going to be so fun to walk onto the set and they’re bringing all of the sets out from storage and putting it all back together.’ Every, I mean, down to the shelves and the little chotchkies details …. We romanticized it, but you also have to remember we haven’t been there. And that time was a very specific time when we were saying goodbye to something that we didn’t want to, we cared deeply about, but we knew it was the time to say goodbye. Our lives were ahead of us. We had our future ahead of us. And it almost felt like time had stopped and we time traveled. And there’s good in that, and then there’s heartbreak in that.’
Aniston also recalled how she nearly lost the part of Rachel Greene. Aniston, who appeared in every episode of Friends, was nearly recast before the show aired as she was in another sitcom, Muddling Through. She explained to King how Friends director James Burrows warned her that Muddling Through, would get picked up for another season “just to spite this show,” putting her casting as Rachel in serious jeopardy.
“Sure enough, they actually did,” Aniston told King. “They picked it up just for three episodes.”
Aniston recalled she had phone calls from girlfriends saying, “‘I’m auditioning for Rachel. Will you help me with the….'”, and confirmed that Friends was trying to find backups for Rachel if Muddling Through continued after three episodes.
“I just went to the producer (of Muddling Through) and I said, “please, please let me out of this show,” Aniston told King. “I really love this other show that I’m doing.” And because someone said, what could it hurt? Just go in there and ask to be let off. And that’s when he said “I’ve seen that show ‘Friends,’ I saw that show. I saw the pilot. That’s not going to make you a star. This show will make you a star.” And then the rest is history…”
Muddling Through was canceled, and, of course, Aniston went on to play Rachel for all 10 seasons .