During its heyday, Friends pulled in an impressive roster of guest stars. But no other guest star gig created quite as much hype as when Brad Pitt himself swung by apartment 20 for the show’s 2001 Thanksgiving episode.
Pitt and Aniston had been married for almost a year-and-a-half by that point, and sat atop the apex of Hollywood’s golden couple rankings. But the pair had never actually acted against one another on screen. They were the rare star couple that didn’t actually meet on set (reportedly, they were originally set up by their agents). Anticipation for their onscreen debut was high, but Friends being a comedy and the character Rachel Green’s love life being complicated enough, Pitt appeared as a friend from Ross’s past who absolutely loathed Rachel. There was a bit of backlash to the episode at the time, and it clearly wasn’t what the world wanted, but Aniston still remembers it fondly.
In a joint interview with Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox for Access Hollywood, the women of Friends were asked to name their favorite guest stars. It quickly turns into a game of remembering who exactly appeared (Cox, for one, cannot seem to get over the fact she can’t remember British singer Morrissey dropping by the set once).
“And Mr. Pitt was wonderful,” says Aniston in the midst of the back and forth. “He was fantastic,” Kudrow adds. “Fantastic,” Aniston agrees. (But Pitt did not elicit quite as much enthusiasm from the ladies compared to the moment they remember that the great Teri Garr played Phoebe’s birth mother for three episodes.)
In any event, this is the latest small sign that all is well in Aniston’s and Pitt’s relations with each other. As well, at least, as one could expect for a couple that’s been divorced for about 16 years. In fact, last year, in the midst of the worst of the pandemic, Aniston and Pitt actually made their second joint acting appearance. Sort of. They both appeared during a Zoom table reading of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
However, Pitt’s Friends appearance still remains one of his very few post-fame television appearances. Although he had small parts on shows like Dallas, Growing Pains, Tales From the Crypt, and 21 Jump Street early in his career, Pitt has mostly stayed away from the small screen since 1992. His only scripted TV appearances in addition to Friends were playing Dr. Fauci on Saturday Night Live, contributing to the documentary series Freedom: A History of US, and voicing Boomhauer’s younger brother Patch on an episode of King of the Hill. Aniston also had a guest role on King of the Hill that same year, though in a different episode. She played a character named “Pepperoni Sue.”