The One Where Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow Have a Glorious ‘Friends’ Reunion
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The cast of "Friends", the most popular show in modern TV history, is known to be tight, and the six will come together for an HBO Max special when it is safe to film again. Previously we asked Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow to talk to each other about their latest TV projects. In "The Morning Show" Aniston destroyed it - this year she won a SAG Award (for the best actress in a drama series) for her portrait of Alex Levy, a star anchor who has to face her own complicity after her co-moderator. Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is released for sexual harassment. Recently Kudrow has stolen scenes in two shows - as Carell's character in "Space Force" and as a tough mother in "Feel Good".
During the video chat for Variety's Actors on Actors, Aniston and Kudrow laughed and remembered as they discussed their work. They also discussed the continued popularity of “Friends” and why they feel the show worked so well. At one point, Aniston even referred to this classic piece with Ross, Chandler, Rachel, and a couch, which was delightful.
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Jennifer Aniston: Do you actually remember when you first met me?
Lisa Kudrow: Yes, I do - read at the table.
Aniston: Do I remember what I was wearing?
Kudrow: You remember what everyone was wearing.
Aniston: I do. You were wearing a matching Phoebe Buffay - like a white linen hippie shirt, and you were wearing some shells and necklaces. And you had your hair pulled up in two little brackets and you had these little blonde tendrils.
Kudrow: Oh God bless you.
Aniston: So, so, so beautiful! And Courteney [Cox] was wearing a pink baby t-shirt with a white border.
Kudrow: Gee Whiz! I tried to get into the figure.
Aniston: I know! I still thought you were auditioning and you actually already had the job.
Kudrow: What were you wearing?
Aniston: I don't remember that.
Kudrow: And then you did "The Morning Show".
Aniston: Right after!
Kudrow: I just thought that would be a good transition. By the way, it's my favorite show. I watched them all as soon as we could, my husband and I both. It is difficult for us to find shows that we can both watch together. And then it's just so well written. It's about something; it's so beautifully performed. You overwhelmed me
Aniston: Bless your heart. Thank you sweetheart.
Kudrow: You were so complete "The Morning Show" host that you weren't. I would say, "Wait, was that Jennifer?"
Aniston: I am from Lisa - I am speaking to this audience that may see this - but I am from you who are literally the characters that you have consistently portrayed throughout the years you have known you. I never see Lisa. I am really moved.
Kudrow: There is a lot to tell on "The Morning Show". Do you mind if I swing?
Aniston: No, pan. Pivot, David Schwimmer.
Kudrow: How did you decide that you wanted to do this?
Aniston: I spoke to Michael Ellenberg at my Christmas party and I have known Michael since he was one of the producers of "The Leftovers", one of the brilliant, extraordinary shows by Mimi Leder that she directed. It just got there where I said, "You know, I'm not against going back to TV when it's a great job." And he said, "Are you serious?"
And then he gave me the overview because he had just read "Top of the Morning" [by Brian Stelter] and had just acquired the rights. They came to me and I said, "Absolutely." And he said, "Also, and the idea of getting you and Reese [Witherspoon] to do this together would be brilliant."
When he set up the show, it was behind the scenes of the New York morning talk shows and the New York media. And then #MeToo happened. We had to stop and concentrate again and integrate all of this into the story, which unfortunately fit quite easily.
Kudrow: Well, you already had Mitch, so to speak, crossing the borders.
Aniston: Yes, yes. And ageism - for my character, wanting someone new, because after you reach 40, that's it. We have to find someone. There were many things that were really fun and that you could play with.
Kudrow: Your portrayal of Alex's breakdown in this last episode, I've never seen anything like it. It felt so real and - not painful because she was somehow out of her body. How on earth did you approach it?
Aniston: It was just a boiling point and I think it was only all the years. And then Hannah's death happened and then everything kind of boiled and it just exploded and it happened just when we were on the air. I think I somehow swam out of my body and didn't give an. It was a bit like that, I'm fucking crazy and I won't be able to bear it anymore.
I think it's also about being this age and having heard these stories over and over again in recent years - there is such anger that we as women carry and hear what so many women have been through and have had to deal with .
Kudrow: We all heard stories when they happened. And you just know, "Oh my god, there is no recourse. There is no recourse. There is nothing to do. What am I going to tell my friend?"
Aniston: And it's too big. What are we going to do? It will be him again, his word against mine. In that sense, it was a pretty fulfilling experience.
Kudrow: God. It was just so great.
Aniston: I love you. I can't stand it, I'm sweating.
Kudrow: Well, you don't look sweaty. So with Reese because you both produced it - it seemed like you both wanted to be allies at last, and then I don't know. It was also a fantastic roller coaster ride. It felt like Alex didn't have many women in her life.
Aniston: No, no, no. She was in the boys club. It reminds me of Shirley MacLaine. It always hung around with the Rat Pack. I think she was very determined and had her family and her job was obviously number 1. Even if Bradley [Witherspoon] comes in there is a "Whoa!" Inferiority, but she still reveres them and thinks they're great. But then she is scared and intimidated. It is such a love / hate. And it really felt like a love story between two women.
There are so many dynamics of women and how women interact with each other. Women are ultimately pretty tough on women. You and I have never experienced this, especially when we had the luxury of shooting our show. We were just friends.
Kudrow: I never understood it. What is the competition? I never understood that. And luckily, I don't think I've ever seen it or I don't see it.
We all do what we want. Where's the complaint? Where is the problem? There is enough. There is plenty. We are all here and we all do it.
Aniston: space for everyone. But I think this world of broadcasting is about relevance.
By the way, wasn't there a big secret in the "Space Force" show? You weren't supposed to know anything about Space Force?
Kudrow: No, not "not allowed" - just dips - didn't know that it was a real thing. Yeah no I did not know it.
Aniston: I'm sorry you were in prison. I feel that our life is now, in a way, what your character was.
Kudrow: Yes. I had all of these wigs.
Aniston: What about where you got the cornrows when your daughter visited you?
Kudrow: Yes, I had cornrows. It wasn't a wig. Of course I ask, "Why is she in prison now?"
Aniston: Why is she in prison?
Kudrow: I think they just didn't want to commit to what that was. It's a fun thing, I think.
Aniston: Weren't you so excited to get this job when you heard, oh my god, I'm allowed to work with Steve Carell?
Kudrow: He is heaven. He's great, he's effortless, he's professional - he's human, isn't he? It was great fun. I was only on this show for five days, but every day was -
Aniston: All your work was done in five days? By the way, it likes. Sign me up.
Kudrow: That's how I do things. Thanks, Netflix. Yes, that was also for "Feel Good". It was only a week.
Aniston: God, I love this show! I love "feeling good". You are so mean!
Kudrow: Yes, it's tricky.
Aniston: Isn't it fun to play people like that?
Kudrow: Yes, but I'm worried if I really understand and sympathize completely. Because if my daughter had been addicted and we had to throw her out of the house and she had recovered and I would find that she does not belong to an anonymous group of addicts? Then I would be super freaky and angry. And Mae [Martin] was really, really open and just gave me a lot of background knowledge for this character.
Aniston: When you produce, you are there from scratch and have the idea and the show - and then the scripts and then the crew and then the cast. Do you think that this is a more pleasant place to work, or do you like to go to an already educated family and are the host family member for the time being?
Kudrow: I like being a host family member for the time being. It's different when I do my own thing, but I've had an engagement problem since "friends", to be honest.
Aniston: Just afraid to commit yourself to something because nothing will ever be as good as "friends"? I understand.
Kudrow: "Friends," it's not like, "Oh, it's been so hard work for 10 years." It's not that. I knew that this show worked because we were all committed to each other. It wasn't just a role, it was a contract. We all still love each other. Our line-up is like that and that's why it worked. I think part of me has died. I can't do that again.
But when I create something myself - that I only have two shows with that I did - I feel fine. Because I have all the people around, and that makes it OK. Maybe I'll just be a damn nut as I get older. That is possible.
Aniston: Everything is possible. I love it. I love your brain It can be my happy place.
Kudrow: Can I ask you something, Jennifer? Have you seen "friends" since we were quarantined or stayed at home?
Aniston: I love it. I love to stumble across a "friends" episode. This time I was with Courteney and we tried to find something to refer to, an old thing with "friends". And then we stumbled on - there are blunders online - and we sat there on the computer like two nerds and watched these blunders laugh at ourselves.
Kudrow: I did it too. I did that, hours of glitches.
Aniston: I love this: When I watch an episode, I usually remember where we broke during the scene.
You and I would always get into these fits of laughter because you had this wonderful ability - you were going to hit your punch line and you would do this adorable thing where you would break. They would say the punch line and always turn to the audience and say, "I'm sorry, it's really funny."
Kudrow: If I knew I would go, I wouldn't say the punch line - I didn't want to ruin it.
Aniston: You had the ability to giggle while breaking the punch line. Because as Lisa you found it funny what Phoebe said. Which was so adorable.
Kudrow: Which is an engagement problem.
Aniston: And then I would watch you and then I would break. We were terrible. And then there was the scene where the bagpipe happened.
The bagpipes - where you started singing 100% - sound like the bagpipes - I couldn't hold them together. Nobody could hold it together.
Kudrow: I cough, but don't worry.
Aniston: No, you're fine, Lis. Should I check your temperature? You are totally healthy. Everyone now, when you have a tickling throat, you feel almost bad if you hear a cough or sneeze at all. God forbid the allergies. You are crappy.
Kudrow: It is true. I know. You are afraid that someone thinks you are sick and that you are really irresponsible. They don't do anything to protect them.
Aniston: What are your favorite episodes of the friendship show?
Kudrow: I don't see the show. I still don't watch it hoping that someday we'll sit down and see them together.
Aniston: I think we would have a lot of fun doing this.
Kudrow: When we're with Ross and Monica and Chandler undress in front of the window. And then [I like]: "My eyes! My eyes!" So Matthew Perry said things. I actually asked for permission before we shot it. I said, "I don't know if you saw the samples, but I say," My eyes! My eyes! "The way you do it. I just need to know that that's okay with you. If not, I'll say it differently." And he said, "Yes, do it."
Aniston: I think Matthew asked us for permission when we borrowed Chandler's cadence. We said, "But it's flattering." I think it will be really fun even if we can ever do our reunion show if we ever come out of quarantine.
Kudrow: Yes, it will be really great. I can't wait to do that. I can't wait to do that. Yes, we don't know everything about it, we have to say. I think we should also be surprised by some things.
Aniston: We know there is no script, we know that.
Kudrow: Yes, no. I will not be Phoebe.
Aniston: I won't be Rachel, though I am somehow. Well, we're all small fragments of it. Not really. But yes.
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