Friends: The Reunion was an emotional watch for fans, but it was on a whole different level for the six stars of the beloved sitcom.
In the two-hour special, now streaming on HBO Max, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer returned to their old soundstage, Stage 24 on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, and toured the reconstructed sets they called home for 10 top-rated seasons of TV.
Aniston joined Gayle King on her SiriusXM show, Gayle King in the House, on Thursday to open up about the tidal wave of emotions she felt during the cast’s tear-filled and joyous on-set reunion.
“It was a sucker punch in the heart in a way,” the actress shared. “It was for all of us, I think. Even Courteney we got tears out of.”
Returning to the set, the cast was “very naive in what we were expecting,” Aniston noted, recalling that she and her former co-stars were at first excited about seeing all the sets — and even specific props and “tchotchkes” from their characters’ apartments and the Central Perk coffee house — but soon were overwhelmed by emotion.
“We romanticized it, but you also have to remember we haven’t been there [since the series finale],” she explained. “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.”
“It almost felt like time had stopped and we time traveled,” Aniston added of the return. “And there’s good in that, and then there’s heartbreak in that.”
Of what the show ultimately means to her, the actress admitted, “It’s really hard to put that into a sentence, except it filled my heart.”
“The amount of love that people have for these six characters is something that you can’t really explain the meaning of it,” she added. “Being reminded of the amount of happiness this show brought to people, that’s a special thing to be a part of.”
One of the biggest shockers for fans during the reunion was the revelation that Ross and Rachel’s on-screen chemistry was actually bolstered by some real-life feelings between Aniston and Schwimmer during Friends’ early seasons.
“At some point, we were both crushing hard on each other,” Schwimmer shared during an interview segment with James Corden. “But it was like two ships passing, because one of us was always in a relationship. So we never crossed that boundary. We respected that.”
In fact, it seems the only romantic resolution the pair ever got was onscreen. “We just channeled all of our adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel,” Aniston insisted.
“I remember saying one time to David, ‘It’s gonna be such a bummer if the first time you and I actually kiss is gonna be on national television,'” she added. “Sure enough, first time we kissed was in that coffee shop.”
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