Jennifer Aniston got her big break when she starred as Rachel Green on Friends. But as with many stars, she wasn’t the only actress to audition for her iconic role. As Comedy Central reports, Rachel was the last of the six leads to be cast in the sitcom. Over the years, it’s come to light that a couple of other actresses came very close to landing the part. And most people think that Friends wouldn’t have been the same without Aniston playing a flawed but lovable Rachel.
Ahead, discover the actresses who almost played Rachel Green instead of Jennifer Aniston.
They first offered the role to Courteney Cox
Can you imagine if the tables had been turned, with Courteney Cox playing Rachel and Jennifer Aniston playing Monica? That could have happened. As Vanity Fair reports, Marta Kauffman recalls that she and David Crane “originally offered Rachel to Courteney Cox, but she said she wanted to do Monica, not Rachel.” Cox did have competition for the role of Monica, but eventually got the role she wanted.
But Téa Leoni was the original first choice for Rachel
AOL reports that after Courteney Cox was approached for the role of Rachel but decided she liked Monica better, the show’s creators had another “first choice” for the role of Rachel Green. “Téa Leoni was the first choice for Rachel but turned it down to do a show called The Naked Truth that was canceled after only three seasons,” the publication explains. As Comedy Central puts it, Leoni “was the producers’ first choice to play Rachel, but she turned down the role.”
Tiffani Thiessen also auditioned for the role
Saved by the Bell alum Tiffani Thiessen also makes the list of actresses who almost played Rachel Green. As Entertainment Weekly reports, the actress said that she “tested” for the role, but didn’t get it because she wasn’t a perfect fit with the rest of the cast. “I was just a little too young. I was a little too young to the pairing of the rest of them.” She would have been only 20 when Friends premiered. By contrast, Jennifer Aniston, the youngest of the six leads, was 25 at the time.
Jane Krakowski didn’t get very far in the audition process
30 Rock star Jane Krakowski revealed that she tried to get the role of Rachel Green, but didn’t get very close. As The Huffington Post reports, Krakowski explained, “I, like almost every actor in the world, auditioned for Friends. I wish I had gotten that one. I actually auditioned for Rachel and didn’t go very far.” As the Post notes, Krakowski’s Rachel Green would probably have been very different from Aniston’s. “Her self-mocking campiness is at the opposite end of the dramatic spectrum from the sly, winning naturalism that Aniston showcased in Friends.”
Elizabeth Berkley wanted the role, too
Elizabeth Berkley also goes on the list of actresses who almost played Rachel Green but eventually lost out to Jennifer Aniston. As AOL reports, the Saved by the Bell actress “auditioned for the role of Rachel, too, but it didn’t work out.” But as Zimbio reports, Berkley moved on just fine from the failed audition. She “auditioned for the role of Rachel but was turned down. A year after Friends debuted, her racy erotic drama Showgirls hit theaters.”
Lisa Whelchel got a script but didn’t pursue it
Bustle reports that The Facts of Life actress Lisa Whelchel got a script for Friends “after NBC had shot the pilot and wanted to pick a different actress to play Central Perk’s most lovable (but definitely least attentive) waitress.” Whelchel had just finished her role on Facts of Life. And while she thought the script was funny, she passed on it because “I could also tell the direction it would go.” She said, “it’s not one that I would want my children to watch.”
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