Jennifer Aniston Admits She Walked off the ‘Friends’ Reunion ‘at Certain Points’ — Here’s Why

HBO Max went to great expense to reunite the cast of Friends. The Friends reunion special finally aired in May, but months later, Jennifer Aniston reveals she wasn’t as composed as she appeared. Aniston said she got so overwhelmed she had to walk off set more than once, but the final edit made it appear she was stable. 

Jennifer Aniston holds her Sherry Lansing Leadership Award
Jennifer Aniston | Amy Sussman/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter

Aniston spoke with The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Dec. 8. The interview coincided with THR presenting Aniston with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award. They covered the Friends reunion too, and here’s what she said. 

Jennifer Aniston didn’t expect the ‘Friends’ reunion to be as emotional as it was. 

Aniston was on board for the Friends reunion. She looked forward to seeing her castmates and the old sets again. What she wasn’t prepared for was the memories it triggered.

“Time travel is hard,” Aniston told THR. “I think we were just so naive walking into it, thinking, ‘How fun is this going to be? They’re putting the sets back together, exactly as they were.’ Then you get there and it’s like, “Oh right, I hadn’t thought about what was going on the last time I was actually here.’” 

Why Jennifer Aniston walked off the ‘Friends’ reunion

Aniston did not elaborate on the personal struggles she had while filming Friends from 1994 – 2004. She was dating and married Brad Pitt during Friends. Prior to Pitt, Aniston had three breakups with Daniel McDonald, Adam Duritz and Tate Donovan. The press was in her face as soon as Friends premiered, but it could have been things she kept to herself. 

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And it just took me by surprise because it was like, ‘Hi, past, remember me? Remember how that sucked? You thought everything was in front of you and life was going to be just gorgeous and then you went through maybe the hardest time in your life?’ It was all very jarring and, of course, you’ve got cameras everywhere and I’m already a little emotionally accessible, I guess you could say, so I had to walk out at certain points. I don’t know how they cut around it.

Jennifer Aniston, The Hollywood Reporter, 12/8/21

One way ‘Friends’ changed her life

Aniston did elaborate on one aspect of her life during and after Friends. Her career exploded. Prior to Friends, Aniston had gone from short-lived series to series, such as the Ferris Bueller TV show and the sketch comedy The Edge. She was already booked on the sitcom Muddling Through when she begged them to let her do Friends

“The career was one thing,” Aniston said. “I didn’t know what was coming, and that’s been nothing but blessed. It’s a different caliber of work but I love it, no matter what, even if it’s a terribly reviewed, dumb comedy, it doesn’t matter if it brings me joy. It was more personal stuff that I had expectations about that sort of shape-shifted, so to speak.”

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Before Friends, Aniston’s biggest movie was Leprechaun. During Friends, she got roles in movies like She’s the One, Picture Perfect, The Object of My Affection and The Good Girl. Since Friends the roles have only gotten bigger, and the shift was sudden to Aniston.

“That was what was jarring, that we all had an idea of what the future was going to be and we were going to go hunker down and focus on this or that and then it all just changed overnight, and that was it,” Aniston said. “But again, everything’s a blessing if you’re able to look at life’s ups and downs in that way. And if it all hadn’t happened, I would not be sitting here the woman that I am.”