Jennifer Aniston: I Was Almost Replaced in 'Friends' !

The actress reveals why she almost didn't make it onto the sitcom as Rachel, the role that would eventually make her a star

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty

It’s hard to imagine anyone besides Jennifer Aniston playing Rachel Green on Friends.

But according to the actress, the producers were almost forced to replace her before the show even aired.

Friends came when I was off doing Muddling Through,” Aniston explained at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday, referencing CBS’s short-lived 1994 sitcom. “So there was a period where I had to stand out of the photographs for the group shots, and I had phone calls from girlfriends saying, ‘I’m auditioning for your part in Friends.’ ”

While Aniston, 45, had signed on for Friends, she was also already appearing on Muddling Through, and she was aware that she might have to back out of Friends if her other show was a hit.

Luckily for Aniston, the show’s producers didn’t need to find a replacement.

“They just took the chance that Muddling Through would fail after the two episodes they picked it up for,” the star said during the film festival’s Q&A. “And so I just started doing this back-and-forth from Sony to Warner Bros. for two weeks.”

Muddling Through only lasted for three months, leaving Aniston to focus solely on Friends once the show had been canceled.

Another thing that may come as a surprise: Friends producers wanted Aniston to play Monica.

“They wanted Courteney [Cox] to play Rachel,” the Cake actress says. “And unbeknownst to each other, I wanted to play Rachel and she wanted to play Monica. It worked out perfectly.”

Aniston was at the Santa Barbara Film Festival to accept the Montecito Award, which is given to a star whose standout performances and style have been a contribution to film. She attended the festival with her fiancé, Justin Theroux, and they were both greeted by cheers when they arrived for Aniston’s Q&A session.

Reporting by SCOTT HUVER

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