When many think of hit 90’s sitcom Friends, the actress that immediately springs to mind is Jennifer Aniston, who rose to fame as the high-maintenance Rachel Green. However, the iconic character almost went to a completely different person.
According to Jane Sibbett, who played Ross’ ex-wife Carol on the show, she was originally offered the role of Rachel, before turning it down.
Speaking to News.com.au, the regular guest star said: “I actually was up for another character. They wanted me to be one of the main six.”
“It was actually Rachel but I usually don’t tell people that because Jen… There’s no one who could’ve done it like Jen,” she added.
When asked why she declined the role, Sibbett said: “I asked them [her agents] if they’d told the producers I was pregnant [at the time] and they said, ‘Oh no, we thought we’d tell them later.’ And I said, ‘No you’ve got to tell them now.'”
“So obviously [the producers] said it wouldn’t work out,” she added. “I have no regrets, my goodness, there’s no way anybody could have come close to what Jennifer Aniston did with Rachel. She was so perfect.”
Sibbett instead played Carol Willick – the ex-wife of Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer) – after the original actress Anita Barone suddenly quit after the pilot.
“So I got home from hospital after giving birth to my son and I got a phone call saying that they were replacing Carol and could I come to work the next day,” she said. “Two days after I delivered my son, he and I were on the set. I was in a milky haze. But it was funny. It was only supposed to be a two-week job so I’m very grateful.”
Sibbett played Carol in 15 episodes of the sitcom, alongside Jessica Hecht, who played Carol’s girlfriend (and later wife) Susan.
Friends ran for 10 seasons from 1994 until 2004, winning six Emmys, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA over the 10 year period.
A Friends reunion special is due to arrive on HBO Max at some point in the future, however due to COVID-19, filming for the one-off episode has been delayed. In the meantime, Aniston, Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow had a mini Friends reunion during the virtually-filmed Emmys on Monday, with the three sitcom stars appearing in a skit together.