While HBO Max's Friends reunion looked just like a group of real friends just hanging out on the set of their old show to outside observers, it was really "brutal" for the stars behind the scenes. During a stop on Rob Lowe's Literally! podcast, Jennifer Aniston said she was surprised by how serious the reunion became once cameras started filming. Friends: The Reunion was finally released on HBO Max on May 27 and mostly featured the cast looking back on the hit sitcom, alongside celebrity Friends fans.
Reliving some of the iconic moments from the sitcom "really took us all down way harder than we anticipated," Aniston told Lowe, reports E! News. "In your mind you think, 'Oh, this will be really fun to time travel.' It turns out, ooh, ouch, it's kind of hard to time travel." The Morning Show star noted that the Friends set was replicated right down to the "little tchotchkes on the shelves."
While the inanimate objects on the set had not changed in the 16 years since Friends ended, the cast certainly has, as Aniston pointed out. "You know, [in] 16 years, a lot has gone on for each of us," she told Lowe. "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 loved to do."
Aniston had such fond memories of making Friends, comparing the show's production a "happy pill every since day," which made reuniting with her co-stars more sentimental. There was a hint of "melancholy" in the reunion, since everyone in the cast has gone in different directions. "Some easy and some not so easy for each of us," she said.
The reunion was "brutal" because there were so many tears flowing. "There was a period where we were all kind of in a puddle. Maybe David didn't, I don't think we broke David," she said, referring to David Schwimmer. Even Matt LeBlanc, whom she called "Mr. Tough Guy," was in tears. Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, and Courteney Cox also participated in the reunion, with original show producers Kevin S. Bright, David Crane, and Mara Kauffman.
The special was hosted by James Corden and featured appearances from David Beckham, Justin Bieber, BTS, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevigne, Kit Harington, Lady Gaga, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon. It earned a nomination for the Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) Primetime Emmy Award, with all members of the cast cited on the nomination. The full Friends series is also available to stream on HBO Max.