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Jennifer Aniston Explains Why Actors Who Guest-Starred On Friends Were ‘Terrified’ During The Experience

Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green on Friends.
(Image credit: HBO Max)

It’s been nearly 30 years since Friends premiered on NBC, and it has become somewhat of the ultimate comfort show in the time since. It’s no surprise why, really, because the constant light humor maximizes watchability and the slew of guest stars that are now major faces in Hollywood give modern viewers nice ‘90s throwbacks amid binges. While the guest stars were a treat for fans (and you may have even forgotten some famous actors were on the show), it wasn't always easy for the guests. In fact, series star Jennifer Aniston now explains that the actors who guest-starred on the show were “terrified” during the experience, and the reason why makes total sense.

Jennifer Aniston and her five Friends co-stars played their characters for an entire decade, which is more than enough time for them to get comfortable on set and with each other -- and build lasting relationships that hold steady even today. But during an interview with Sebastian Stan for Variety's Actors on Actors segment, Aniston revealed that guest stars were pretty “terrified” of the live audience aspect of the storied sitcom. Here is what she said, exactly, about the experience of actors with guest or small roles throughout the series' 10-season run:

… you had an audience. … And by the way, every actor who was a film actor who came onto our show, they were terrified. It was like, ‘Who are these people laughing at what I’m saying?’

As a pretty die-hard, quote referencing Friends fan, I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I've never really considered the impact the live audience could have on the actors. Live audiences give a whole different energy to a show, and it makes sense that filming in front of one would be a whole different ball game for those not accustomed to it.

Some pretty big movie stars, like Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis, appeared on the show while it was airing, and the idea that they were nervous about filming is kind of mind boggling to me. And actually, the legendary Tom Selleck (who played the recurring role of Dr. Richard Burke), even admitted that he was "scared to death" as a result of the sitcom atmosphere.

Though Jennifer Aniston probably got used to the live audience and acting in front of a lot of people, she had other obstacles to overcome. This included the insomnia she’s struggled with since her time on the show. As for other stars of the sitcom, some don’t even remember much of the episodes or content of the show.

But Friends has been finished for just under 20 years, and all of the cast members and guest stars have come a long way since that time. It may be hard to imagine the famous guests shaking in their boots over the attention and laughs from the audience members but, at the same time, it’s honestly kind of endearing. 

All 10 seasons of Friends, along with last year's reunion special, can be streamed with the use of an HBO Max subscription. And as you watch the former, you can make a list of the best guest players to grace the sitcom with their presence.

Carlie Hoke
Carlie Hoke

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.