During HBO Max’s Friends reunion special, which premiered Thursday, the former on-screen couple revealed that their chemistry extended off screen — and for the first two seasons of the long-running NBC sitcom, they were practically inseparable.
“The first season, I had a major crush on Jen,” Schwimmer said.
“It was reciprocal,” added Aniston.
“At some point, we were both crushing hard on each other, but it was like two ships passing,” Schwimmer explained. “One of us was always in a relationship, and we never crossed that boundary.” (Matt LeBlanc called “bulls—t,” but quickly clarified that he was only joking.)
Piggybacking off of Schwimmer’s explanation, Aniston recalled an early exchange with her on-screen love interest. “‘It’s going to be such a bummer if the first time you and I actually kiss is… on national television,'” she said at the time — and sure enough, it was. “We just channeled all of our adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel.”
Archival footage revealed that Aniston and Schwimmer would cosy up on Monica and Rachel’s couch between rehearsals. “There were moments we would cuddle on the couch, and spoon or something,” Schwimmer said. “How did everyone not know we were crushing on each other?”
“We knew,” Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox responded, almost in unison. But as Cox expounded, the fact that her costars never hooked up was probably a blessing in disguise. Had they gotten together and it hadn’t work out, there’s no telling if their on-screen chemistry would’ve suffered — and the “tension” in the lead-up to Ross and Rachel’s first kiss was just so “palpable,” she said. “It was just perfect.”
Friends: The Reunion marked only the second time all six cast members — Aniston, Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Perry and Schwimmer — had been together in 17 years. Hosted by James Corden, the 100-minute special also featured appearances by former recurring guest stars Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles (Jack and Judy Geller), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Maggie “Oh. My. God.” Wheeler (Janice Litman-Goralnik) and Tom Selleck (Richard Burke). For even more of TVLine’s extensive Friends coverage, click here.