People

The highly relatable reason why Reese Witherspoon turned down a return to Friends

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon may have an Oscar to her name, but she’s still vulnerable to the same fears as the rest of us; particularly one that prevented her from returning to Friends.

By all accounts, Reese Witherspoon had a ball when she appeared on Friends as Jill, the bratty younger sister of Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green.

The Oscar-winning actor put in a guest cameo on the iconic show back in 2000, and famously stirred up trouble for her sibling when she set her sights on Rachel’s on-off love interest Ross (David Schwimmer). Fans will recall Rachel telling Jill she can’t date Ross, to which Jill hits back with the immortal line, “Can’t have? Can’t have? The only thing I can’t have is dairy.”

You may also like

“We aren't just the wives and the girlfriends”: Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman on Hollywood sexism

However, Witherspoon revealed this week that she turned down an invitation by producers to appear on the show again. Why? She was terrified at the prospect of having to perform another time in front of a live studio audience.

Friends was famously filmed live, but it was a format Witherspoon could not get on-board with as stage fright kicked in.

During an interview with AP Entertainment, Witherspoon and Aniston – who have now revived their working relationship on Apple TV+ series The Morning Show – are asked about what it’s like to perform live.

Witherspoon praises Aniston’s skills honed over a decade-long stint on Friends, and Aniston returns the compliment.

“You are [good] too. You forget it because you blacked out of fear,” Aniston tells Witherspoon, of her Friends performance. “But she was so good and you were flawless.”

Witherspoon admits she’s “never done it again”, adding: “Did you know they asked me back and I said, ‘No, I can’t do it.’ I was too scared.” 

The confession appears to take Aniston by surprise, as she jokingly responds: “How dare you say this!” 

“You got scared?” she adds. “What a shame. You would have started to love it.”

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon on Friends
Reese Witherspoon suffered from stage fright on Friends

Aniston goes onto say that, while she’s fine with live performances, she struggles giving speeches in real life – and says her legs often end up shaking through nerves.

Stage fright is one aspect of public speaking phobia; one of the most common forms of fear. Research shows that over half the nation has, like Witherspoon, avoided taking certain jobs because of the very same feeling. One eye-opening study from 2013 found that people feared public speaking more than death itself.

You may also like

Jennifer Aniston nails the big problem with the Friends reunion

Witherspoon’s rejection of another Friends stint is not the only surprise news to come out of the show this week.

On Thursday, Freddie Prinze Jr. revealed in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that he was never supposed to take on the guest star role as Sandy, Rachel and Ross’ “manny”. 

“That [part] was originally offered to Tom Hanks but he wasn’t gonna make it back from his film on time,” Prinze Jr. said. “And so my agent called me and said, ‘Do you want to be on Friends? And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do an episode of Friends. That’ll be great.’ He said, ‘Yeah, it shoots tomorrow.’ and I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yes, tomorrow so I’ll send you the script.’”

The actor said Schwimmer soothed his nerves about performing live, telling him: “You’ll have a ton of fun, don’t worry about a thing.”

Images: Getty

Sign up for our essential edit of what to buy, see, read and do, and also receive our 11-page Ultimate Guide To Making Your Home Feel Bigger.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Topics

Share this article

Author

Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

Recommended by Anna Brech

People

Jennifer Aniston just perfectly explained why Friends was such an iconic show

The actor was honoured with the People’s Icon Award at the 2019 E! People’s Choice Awards.

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
People

Friends at 25: Reflecting on the cast’s salaries in wake of gender pay gap scandal

The gender pay gap has been an issue for years – but the cast of Friends’ wage packets may surprise you.

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
Life

Jennifer Aniston really isn’t happy about *that* Friends fan theory

She’s decided to put an end to the rumours, once and for all

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
Life

The Morning Show: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s major new TV series is here

Watch the trailer and get all the details.

Posted by
Hollie Richardson
Published
People

'Girls are conditioned to feel shame about their sexuality, that's not OK' says Reese Witherspoon

'Girls are conditioned to feel shame about their sexuality, that's not OK' says Reese Witherspoon

Posted by
Stylist Team
Published