When the Friends theme song said “I’ll be there for you,” they meant FOREVER.
In fact, when the show ended, Jennifer Aniston felt straight-up haunted by her onscreen counterpart Rachel Green.
The beloved sitcom star shared her frustrations about stepping out of the character’s shadow in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual drama actress roundtable discussion with her The Morning Show co-star Reese Witherspoon, Rose Byrne, Zendaya, Helena Bonham Carter, and Janelle Monáe. Jen explained:
“You just exhaust yourself. I mean, I could not get Rachel Green off of my back for the life of me. I could not escape ‘Rachel from Friends,’ and it’s on all the time and you’re like, ‘Stop playing that f**king show!’”
(For anyone offended on their favorite show’s behalf, fear not: earlier this week in a discussion with Friends pal Lisa Kudrow that she now loves “stumbling on [an] episode” of the sitcom.)
“The Good Girl was the first time I got to really shed whatever the Rachel character was, and to be able to disappear into someone who wasn’t that was such a relief to me. But I remember the panic that set over me, thinking, ‘Oh God, I don’t know if I can do this. Maybe they’re right. Maybe everybody else is seeing something I’m not seeing, which is you are only that girl in the New York apartment with the purple walls.’ So, I was almost doing it for myself just to see if I could do something other than that. And it was terrifying because you’re doing it in front of the world.”
The 51-year-old became a bona fide movie star after the show’s 10-year run, but to hear her tell it, every step was a struggle. She said:
“I just fought with myself and who I was in this industry forever, and it was constantly about trying to prove that I was more than that person. But there is such a freedom in getting older because you just stop giving a crap.”
The actress made her triumphant return to television with The Morning Show, which is a world away from the situational comedy of the 90s hit. Agreeing with Byrne’s comment on “preconceived notions” about actors who work in certain genres, Aniston said:
“Once you play comedy, they don’t think you can do the drama; and if you’re only seen as a dramatic actor, they don’t think you can do comedy. They forget that we’re actors and we actually have it all in there. It’s just about finding it and accessing it and getting the material.”
We’ll always love “Rachel from Friends,” but we are SO glad we’ve gotten to see Jen grow and expand beyond that!
[Image via Nicky Nelson/WENN/Warner Brothers/YouTube]