The six iconic characters of '90s sitcom Friends had their fair share of crushes, kisses, and even full-blown serious relationships with each other. But the real-life cast has always maintained that offscreen, they're all just friends. However, during the highly-anticipated Friends: The Reunion on HBO Max, (spoilers ahead) the actors dropped a huge bombshell: Two of the cast members weren't always platonic.
When James Corden casually asks Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), and David Schwimmer (Ross) if there were any romances between them during Friends' 10-season run, many viewers will likely feel a bit of palpable secondhand embarrassment. Of course nothing went on — after all, even throughout the special, the cast kept repeating how much they have always felt like family. But then Aniston hesitates: "Well, uh...David?"
"Yeah, well during the first season I had a major crush on Jen," Schwimmer says tentatively. (Aniston stresses that the feeling was reciprocated.) "We were both crushing hard on each other," Schwimmer continues, "but it was like two ships passing because one of us was always in a relationship and we never crossed that boundary. We respected that."
"Honestly I remember saying one time to David, 'It's going to be such a bummer if you the first time you and I actually kiss is going to be on national television,'" Aniston says. "Sure enough, first time we kissed was in that coffee shop. So we just channeled all of our adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel."
"Is this blowing anyone else's mind?!" Corden exclaims. Yes James, yes.
Many Friends diehards will likely say that rooting for Ross and Rachel is one of the main tenets of being a fan of the show. Cox even says that she wept when she recently saw the iconic season 2 episode where the unlikely pair finally kiss. And as you watch the scene unfold out when they replay it during the reunion, knowing that the two actors actually had feelings for each other — and, similar to Ross and Rachel, couldn't make it work because of bad timing — makes it all the more heart-wrenching.
We then see cuts of Schwimmer and Aniston flirting on set, and the actors explain how they would "cuddle" on the set couch in between takes. "How did not everyone know we were crushing on each other?" Schwimmer asks.
"Oh, we knew," the four others say, laughing.
Cox notes, however, that she's happy Aniston and Schwimmer didn't actually end up getting together, because if it had gone sour it might have ruined the chemistry with the cast as the show went along.
The real mind-bending thing is that you could think of Ross and Rachel as a parallel universe Aniston and Schwimmer — what could've happened if they had actually gone for it. But the two actors, along with the others, are still close now, and seem happy. So we don't mind keeping Ross and Rachel a fantasy. But that doesn't mean we can't still freak out.