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Jennifer Aniston Explains Why HBO Max's Friends Reunion Was 'So Creepy'

Jennifer Aniston smiles at David Schwimmer during Friends: The Reunion.
(Image credit: HBO Max)

The cast of the classic ‘90s sitcom Friends thrilled fans last year when they got together for the first time on screen since the 2004 series finale for Friends: The Reunion. There were some truly fun moments for fans — including a fashion show with celebrities like Cara Delevingne recreating some unforgettable wardrobe moments, and Lady Gaga joining Lisa Kudrow to sing “Smelly Cat.” But going back to that set after 17 years also packed an emotional punch for the six actors, and Jennifer Aniston explained what was “so creepy” about the experience.

Jennifer Aniston spoke to Sebastian Stan for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, where she talked about reuniting with Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry in front of the camera for the first time since Friends went off the air after ten seasons. When the Pam & Tommy actor asked Aniston what it was like to see everyone in that setting again, she said it was emotional beyond what they’d anticipated:

I don’t know we expected for it to sucker punch us as hard as it did in the emotional gut. We just had the idea this is going to be so fun — we’re going back to the sets exactly the way they were. And literally, every single nook on a shelf was the same. It was so creepy. But each and every one of us, we walked in, it was just like, ‘Oh!’ ... It was ’04 when it ended. And we were different. We were so little. Our lives were ahead of us. And so much has changed. We kind of had rose-colored glasses going into it. And then, it was like, ‘This is really a lot heavier than I thought.’

It must have been off-putting to return to that set that was so preserved in time, even though the actors had all gone on to other experiences — both good and bad — in the years that followed. Jennifer Aniston previously spoke about getting so emotional that she had to walk out, and how the special made her feel “a little melancholy” when thinking about how young and optimistic they were when the show ended in 2004. Despite all that, she said, she “wouldn’t change a lick of it”:

Every time we all get together, it’s just like no time has passed. We basically grew up together, and taught each other a lot. We’re each other’s fall guy because the world was happening. We were exploding, and that kind of notoriety was sudden. And we were in these four walls doing the show, and this insanity is happening. And thank God we had each other, because we really couldn’t talk about it outside. It was before social media, so we still had some sanity.

This nostalgic look at the past followed Jennifer Aniston’s recent comments on The Ellen DeGeneres Show as a guest on the final episode. The Rachel Green actress had been Ellen DeGeneres’ first interview 19 seasons ago and made frequent appearances on the show. The host asked the actress’ advice on how to handle the end of such a substantial era in her life, Aniston gamely recalled that with the ending of Friends also came the end of her marriage to Brad Pitt, so she dealt with it by starting therapy.

Friends: The Reunion may have been more than the actors were ready for, and even Courteney Cox has said they’re unlikely to do that again. That’s truly a shame for diehard fans, but at least we can continue to rewatch the 10 seasons in syndication and on HBO Max. Be sure to check out some of the other best shows on HBO Max while you’re at it!

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.