Jennifer Aniston was almost recast in Friends, and, to quote Janice, oh my god
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Jennifer Aniston playing the role of Rachel Green on Friends, but it turns out she was almost recast due to conflicting schedules with another developing project. In a new behind-the-scenes book titled Generation Friends, author Saul Austerlitz reveals the actress nearly missed her chance to play the iconic character after the creators found out she had filmed episodes of a new CBS comedy called Muddling Through before auditioning for Friends in 1994.
The book alleges NBC was concerned they would lose Aniston during the first season of the show if Muddling Through was picked up for a full series, as it was would be practically impossible for her to shoot two sitcoms simultaneously.
At the time, a number of other notable actresses had auditioned for the role, including Denise Richards, Elizabeth Berkley, Nicollette Sheridan, Jane Krakowski, and Tiffani Thiessen, but producers were keen on making it work with Aniston.
"The team wanted Jennifer Aniston for the role of Rachel but she had already shot several episodes of an unaired CBS comedy, Muddling Through," Austerlitz wrote in his new book, per Entertainment Weekly. "If the CBS series was picked up, Friends would lose Aniston midway through its first season."
In fact, the network was so desperate to sign her, they quite literally sabotaged their rivals by scheduling blockbuster TV movies at the same time as Muddling Through so the show would struggle for ratings. It worked because in the end, Muddling Through was canceled after three months and Friends got to keep their original Rachel.
The rest, as they say, is history. Aniston went on to star in what is arguably her best—and most famous—role yet. She played Rachel in the beloved sitcom for 10 seasons, and the character quickly became a fan-favorite because of her incredible style, iconic hair, and one of TV’s best “will they or won’t they” relationships ever.