Jennifer Aniston Says Filming the 'Friends' Reunion Was More 'Melancholy' Than the Cast Expected

"I think it really took us all down way harder than we anticipated," said the actress

Going down memory lane tends to be bittersweet.

In an exclusive sneak peek at her appearance on Thursday's episode of the Literally! With Rob Lowe podcast, Jennifer Aniston reflects on reuniting with her Friends costars for the beloved show's recent HBO Max reunion special.

"We didn't know what it would look like. I mean, we've been hearing about it for a long time. We knew that people wanted [it] — fans really wanted some kind of reunion," recalls the actress, 52. "But why unwrap the perfectly packaged [series]? You know, leave it where it was. Let's not disrupt it."

"So when Ben Winston, our producer-director, came to each of us with his idea, it just resonated with all of us," she continues. "And it didn't sound like something that would cheapen or tarnish something that was perfectly left in its place."

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Jennifer Aniston. Leon Bennett/Getty Images

The final product, a nearly two-hour special that included a sit-down interview with host James Corden, celebrity appearances, table reads of classic scenes and more, was an emotional affair for all involved. It marked the first time Aniston and her costars Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer had reunited in an official capacity since the sitcom ended in 2004.

"I think it really took us all down way harder than we anticipated," Aniston tells host Rob Lowe. "Because in your mind, you think, 'Oh, this will be really fun to time travel.' It turns out, oh, ouch — it's kind of hard to time travel."

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Terrence Patrick/HBO Max

"All of a sudden, here you are. And, you know, 16 years, a lot has gone on for each of us. And 16 years ago, we were all sort of wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and sort of had our whole lives ahead of us, even though we were heartbroken to say goodbye to these 10 years and this family and these people and the job we all love to do. And it brought so much joy to fans and ourselves. I mean, it was like having a happy pill every single day."

"Going back there, it's nostalgic in a way that's kind of also a little melancholy, you know," she adds. "Because a lot has changed and we have all gone down different roads, not so easy and some easy ... for each of us."

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Asked whether there was anything that needed to be edited out, Aniston says: "There was a period where we were all kind of in a puddle."

"I don't think we broke David," she continues. "But even LeBlanc broke at one point. You know, Mr. Tough Guy. You know, our brother. Mr. Impenetrable. Our big brother who would kill anybody if they looked at you wrong. Even he got a little misty."

Friends aired for 10 seasons on NBC from 1994 to 2004. Since the finale, some of the stars have reunited off-screen over the years, and all but Perry, 52, appeared at frequent series director James Burrows' 2016 tribute special.

The full episode of Literally! With Rob Lowe is out Thursday.

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