How Jennifer Aniston Cost a ‘Friends’ Co-Star a Bigger Role on the Show

Rumor has it that Jennifer Aniston isn’t the easiest actress to work with. That probably proved especially true for the Friends co-stars that Aniston dated in real life. And her relationship with one of those actors probably cost her co-star a more significant role on the ’90s sitcom. Who are we talking about? Tate Donovan, Friends‘ Joshua Burgin.

When Rachel Green got a job at Bloomingdale’s, she falls for one of her personal shopping clients, Joshua Burgin, who remains oblivious to her interest. But Donovan probably wouldn’t have gotten the job if it weren’t for his real-life relationship with Aniston. And from some of his recent comments, it sounds like the role got cut short because of a badly-timed breakup. Here’s what we know.

Tate Donovan loved Friends, so he said yes to the role

Jennifer Aniston and Tate Donovan on "Friends"

Jennifer Aniston and Tate Donovan on “Friends” | NBC

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Donovan laughed when the interviewer asked whether he had a good time appearing on Friends. Donovan said that during the two years that he and Aniston were together, he loved visiting the set and spending time with Aniston and her colleagues, whom he characterized as “geniuses at their job.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after Donovan and Aniston had broken up that the producers asked him, “Hey, would you want to do six episodes on the show?” Donovan explained, “I was like, ‘Well, maybe it would be good to work through this breakup.'” He recalled, “What an idiot!” Donovan called Aniston about the offer. And he says that at first, she thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke. But ultimately, as Donovan noted, Aniston didn’t stop it from happening. “I think we both thought, ‘Well, maybe we should.'”

Filming his episodes was ‘horrible’

Tate Donovan told The Huffington Post that once he started filming Friends with Jennifer Aniston, it was much more difficult than he expected. “It was horrible. It was so tough,” he recalled. “I remember getting back to my dressing room and just weeping.” He added, “I don’t recommend it!” Donovan seems to have put the past behind him, though. He said that today, when he runs into Aniston or other ex-girlfriends, “It’s awkward and also wonderful.”

Even more recently, Donovan told Us Weekly that “I was just happy to be on the team. The only bummer was Jennifer and I were breaking up at the time.” He added, “That was tricky to sort of act, and act like we are just meeting each other, and falling in love, or whatever, interested in each other, when we’re sort of breaking up. That was just tough.”

He did just a few episodes ‘only because we were breaking up’

1997 Jennifer Aniston and Tate Donovan in "Friends" ("Rachel's Crush").

Jennifer Aniston and Tate Donovan in “Friends” (“Rachel’s Crush”). | “Friends”

Donovan explained to Us Weekly that Joshua’s role on the show involved just six episodes. And he seemed to imply that the role could have been bigger had things not been so awkward post-breakup that he and Aniston wanted to cut it short. “It was just six episodes. I mean, only because we were breaking up. We were like, ‘Hey, can we not keep doing this? ‘Cause this is really painful and tough.”

Nonetheless, Donovan said that he felt welcomed by Aniston and her co-stars: Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc. “Everyone was really cool about it, and really as helpful as they could be. In other words, they were just compassionate, very compassionate about the whole breakup.” He added, “It was really ultimately a great experience of how people can treat you really well, and you still do your job even though you’re sort of dying inside.”

Read more: Here’s How Much Money the Cast of ‘Friends’ Makes for Reruns

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