How Jennifer Aniston Almost Missed Out on Her Emmy-Winning ‘Friends’ Role

Victoria Leigh Miller

With the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on the horizon, it brings to mind some past television shows that brought home a whole lot of Emmy gold.

One of the most notable shows was the long-running sitcom, "Friends."

With the ensemble cast starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, and Matthew Perry, the series was nominated for a whopping 63 Primetime Emmy Awards over its 10-year run, making all of the show's stars millionaires in the process. (It's not hard to be a millionaire when you're making $1 million an episode.)

But Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow were the only main cast members to win an Emmy Award. So it's hard to imagine that Aniston almost missed out on the coveted role of Rachel Green.

A 2012 Vanity Fair article revealed that the part of Rachel was originally offered to both Courteney Cox (thankfully she told producers she wanted to play Monica, not Rachel) and actress Jami Gertz, who turned it down.

But according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Jennifer Aniston nearly lost out on her breakthrough role for another big reason: She was already contracted to star on a show on CBS at the time.

By the time "Friends" started production in 1994, Aniston still hadn't signed a contract with the NBC show, and TV exec Warren Littlefield later told "The Today Show" that "Friends" producers had to take her in second position.

"We did the pilot that way, and she still wasn't available," Littlefield said. "We had to go into series production throwing millions of dollars at risk, and we still did not have the rights to go forward with Jennifer."

So what was the CBS show that caused all of this behind-the-scenes pre-"Friends" drama?

It would be none other than the short-lived "Muddling Through," a comedy about a mom who returns home to rebuild her life after a two-year stint in the slammer. (You can see a clip from the "Muddling Through" pilot here.)

"Friends" creator David Crane told Vanity Fair of his team's efforts to sign Aniston. "We had a meeting with the guy who created 'Muddling Through' and asked him if he'd let her go. What chutzpah," he said.

Producer Jamie Tarses added: "Then we had Jennifer Aniston crying to Les Moonves [then president of Warner Bros. Television] to let her out of the CBS show she was on."

In the end it all worked out, of course, but not before Jennifer Aniston turned down yet another role for "Friends."

Last year Aniston told Oprah Winfrey that "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels offered her a spot on his long-running late night sketch comedy show.

Aniston told Oprah, "I had this show 'Friends' coming up, and I thought, 'Yeah, they thought I was making a huge mistake.' They were like, 'You're so stupid. You're so stupid.'"

Jennifer Aniston's Primetime Emmy win was in 2002 for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy," the same year "Friends" won the award for "Outstanding Comedy Series."