Jennifer Aniston Turned Down a Major Role In This Late-Night Show to Star In ‘Friends’

(L) Jennifer Aniston and (R) Courtney Cox on the set of Friends
Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox | J. Delvalle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Now that Friends is about to move to HBO Max, where it’ll likely continue to generate the millions it collects every year, it’s worth taking a minute to ponder what might have happened had the casting been done differently. Focusing on Jennifer Aniston is a good example since she basically took a gamble choosing the Rachel role over another established TV show.

Yes, she was almost part of an iconic show that could have placed her into another showbiz trajectory. Looking into alternate realities is kind of risky business, though, since there’s no way to know how fast her stardom would have risen. 

Let’s take a moment to look at that other show where should could have ended up and whether it would have landed her into movies sooner.

Jennifer Aniston had four failed sitcoms before landing ‘Friends

It might seem hard to believe Jennifer Aniston didn’t become a superstar virtually overnight. If you refer to some online trivia about Aniston, you soon find out she appeared on four offbeat sitcoms before she finally found herself on Friends.

Her first foray into the world of sitcoms was on a 1990 Fox comedy called Malloy with Mayim Bialik that became one of the biggest clunkers of the season. Later in the year, she starred in an ill-fated Ferris Bueller sitcom adaptation. There was potential there, yet it flopped miserably.

She eventually tried her hand at sketch comedy for Fox’s flop The Edge during the 1992-93 season. This proved her ability to perform live in front of a live studio audience, something she tried in one more sitcom. You might remember Herman’s Head as Fox’s major sitcom experiment, lasting only a couple of episodes. Aniston can now add or remove this from her resume as one of the most notorious sitcoms in history.

With enough comedy credits, Lorne Michaels considered her for his little sketch comedy show on late Saturday nights.

What would have happened had Aniston become a part of ‘SNL‘?

The prospect of Aniston being in the 1994 cast of SNL could have been popular since the show was starting to change at the time after a second wave of popularity. Almost all of the late 1980s cast were gone by the beginning of the 1994-95 season. There was so much cast turnover at this time, the ratings tanked, almost bringing a cancellation.

Names like Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, and Chris Farley were part of this troupe, however. Imagine Aniston being in this cast and possibly saving them from near oblivion.

Of course, SNL managed to survive their troubles. Perhaps Aniston sensed it would be too much of a risk going into SNL when they were testing new waters. The offer to play Rachel on Friends came to her at the same time, precipitating her going there instead.

TV history was forever changed as a result. We still wonder what it was helping her make the final decision, though. According to interviews she’s done about it, she said the show was a bit of a boy’s club at the time, hence likely a faster decision working with more women at Friends.

Jennifer Aniston has hosted ‘SNL‘ a couple times

After a brief cameo on SNL in 1995, it took five more years before Jennifer Aniston finally hosted in 1999. Her two times hosting (again in 2004) were memorable. She’s since made a cameo on the show, namely in Weekend Update.

Now that we know what could have been with her on the show, would the show have propelled her into superstardom just as fast as Friends? It’s possible, but she might not have made a cultural impact as quickly.

A movie career could have occurred sooner since SNL is a larger springboard into such things. Being tied up with Friends made her hold off on finding stardom in movie acting for a couple of years.

One thing worth pondering is whether Aniston would have created numerous famous characters on SNL, making her not fret so much about the Rachel haircut she reportedly despised.