When it comes to the Friends alumni, Jennifer Aniston arguably went on to have the most successful and long-lasting acting career after the hit sitcom wrapped its final season in 2004.
Making the leap from the small-screen to the big screen, Aniston was able to show the world that she could play more than just spoiled fashion-lover, Rachel Green. How might things have been different for Aniston, however, if she had stayed in the world of television a while longer after Friends?
Jennifer Aniston was interested in joining ‘NCIS’
In the landscape of early 2000s TV, you couldn’t have had two more different shows than Friends and NCIS. One is a sitcom that revolved around the day-to-day antics of a group of NYC twenty-somethings, and the other is a dramatic police procedural that centers around the agents who work for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
As Friends was wrapping its final season, it was undoubtedly a time of big decisions for the six main cast members on the show. The end of a long-running and successful series is always a time of uncertainty for its stars as they sort out what roles they can play, and if they can get out from under their long-held roles and explore other characters and genres.
Some reports say Aniston had her sights set on the role of Agent Caitlin (Kate) Todd on NCIS.
Jennifer Aniston turned down ‘NCIS’ because of ‘Friends’
While reports are unconfirmed about Aniston’s interest in the role of Special Agent Todd, one thing is certain, there was no way she could have joined the cast while keeping her commitment to the final season of Friends. If the show had really wanted to bring Aniston on board, production would have had to wait to film until the following year, when she finally put her role as Rachel Green to bed.
The role of Agent Todd went to actor Sasha Alexander, but her time on the show was short-lived. After two seasons on NCIS, the character was killed off at Alexander’s request.
“I had already started writing the last episode of the season and was getting ready to go to Australia to take a little break. Sasha came in two days before I was to leave, and with tears in her eyes, she said, ‘I just can’t work this hard,’” said the show’s creator and executive producer Donald P. Bellisario at the time of Alexander’s departure.
Jennifer Aniston went from rom-coms to drama
What may have happened to Aniston and NCIS if she had taken the role of Agent Todd and endured the same grueling schedule as Alexander will never be known. Perhaps she would have stayed with the series for years, perhaps she would have left even sooner.
NCIS would not have changed Aniston’s popularity — the characters on the show are beloved by fans and Aniston would have remained immensely popular. Her career trajectory; however, would have likely changed.
Aniston had a string of successful romantic comedy films in the 2000s starting with her pairing with Jim Carrey in the 2003 film, Bruce Almighty.
In another successful romantic comedy with a robust cast of stars, Aniston incidentally got to work with Alexander in the 2009 film He’s Just Not That Into You. The two were bridesmaids in their sister’s wedding, which was the catalyst for Aniston’s character to question her relationship with her long-term boyfriend (Ben Affleck).
After decades of comedic work, with some dramatic work sprinkled here and there, Aniston eventually showed the world that she had some serious dramatic chops when she tackled the role of a woman suffering from chronic illness in her 2014 film, Cake.
Most recently, Aniston has returned to television, but the medium is much different from when she left it in 2004. The lines of film and television blur, as do comedic and dramatic, and The Morning Show is one of the best examples of this. Though the show is littered with well-known comedic actors (such as Steve Carell), it falls firmly on the side of drama and shows that these stars have a lot more high-caliber work in them, and are determined to keep working and creating for years to come.
Aniston told Variety of small-screen content: “It wasn’t until the last couple of years when these streaming services were just sort of exploding with this amount of quality that I actually started to think, ‘Wow, that’s better than what I just did.’ And then you’re seeing what’s available out there and it’s just diminishing and diminishing in terms of, it’s big Marvel movies. Or things that I’m not just asked to do or really that interested in living in a green screen.”
If quality content is what Aniston is looking for and Marvel doesn’t make the cut, it’s highly unlikely the actor would have been happy on NCIS and lasted 18 seasons.
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