Did another actress nearly take over Jennifer Aniston's role as Rachel Green on Friends? Aniston was a core member of the cast over Friends' decade-long run, but that almost wasn't the case. The series could have played out much differently in the early stages.
Rachel Green appeared in every episode of Friends. In the pilot, she was introduced as a naive runaway bride who ran into her childhood friend Monica (Courteney Cox) and decided to relocate to New York City. From there, she met her future lifelong friends in Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), and Chandler (Matthew Perry). She also experienced a very long on-again, off-again relationship with Monica's brother, Ross (David Schwimmer). And let's not forget Rachel's random romance with Joey.
The creators of Friends didn't know how popular the series would become (both on initial airing and on Netflix) during the development stages. One of the aspects that made the sitcom so beloved was the chemistry within the cast. Aniston was a key figure in that group but she was almost recast before the Friends aired. In the summer of 1994, she was in another sitcom called Muddling Through. Her fate as Rachel Green depended on whether or not her other show survived. The series was ultimately canceled which gave Aniston the chance to stay committed to Friends.
There were probably early rumblings that Muddling Through wouldn't make it - why would Aniston sign on to another acting gig at the same time? - but, looking back, it would have been interesting to see who would have been recast in the role of Rachel. It seems likely that the previously rumored actresses up for the part would have filled in ahead of the first season.
Actress Téa Leoni was actually the producers' first choice for the role of Rachel Green. Leoni turned down the role to pursue The Naked Truth, which lasted three seasons. Courtney Cox was also offered the Rachel role in Friends but she declined so that she could play Monica. Other notable actresses that auditioned for the role included Jane Krakowski, Elizabeth Berkley, and Tiffani Thiessen.
Thankfully, the role of Rachel Green went to Jennifer Aniston and the rest was history. Friends was always well-received by fans and Aniston had a lot to do with the praise. Rachel greatly evolved over the course of the ten seasons. She started as a spoiled rich girl who could hardly maintain her waitressing job at Central Perk. By the end of the series, the character transformed into a successful businesswoman who prioritized in supporting her daughter (and defining a hairstyle along the way). Who knows what path Rachel Green could have taken if another actress was in the role?