Even in a year that was packed with virtual cast reunions to entertain us and raise money for good causes during the pandemic, the chances of exes Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt getting back together seemed highly unlikely.
The movie stars, who married in 2000, split in 2005 — a lifetime ago in celebrity scandals. Their marriage and the fallout was covered intensely, and neither of them seemed eager to go back to that period. While they’ve always insisted they’re still good friends, there’s continued to be speculation about their relationship.
So it was delightful in January when the two shared a moment at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Both winners, they looked friendly as they chatted backstage, big smiles on their faces. Then, in September, both popped up on an already star-studded table read of the 1982 classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They were joined by Sean Penn, Julia Roberts, Morgan Freeman, Shia LaBeouf and more in the online event that raised funds for COVID-19 relief organizations, Penn’s CORE and Reform Alliance.
Not only were they on the same call, Pitt and Aniston took it further by reading the parts of Judge Reinhold’s character, Brad, and Linda, played by Phoebe Cates. That’s right, they read that scene about Brad checking out Linda by the pool. Pretty much everyone but Aniston, who somehow managed to stay in character, was losing it. That was especially true for Aniston’s friend Jimmy Kimmel, Roberts and McConaughey. Pitt was even blushing!
The gang quickly raised $135,000 for CORE.
Here are some of the many other reunions that gave us a much-needed break from the COVID-19 grind this year:
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Will Smith sat down to tell us a story all about how his life got flipped turned upside down — as if we could ever forget — in an HBO Max special to mark the sitcom’s 30th anniversary. Co-stars Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton Banks); Tatyana Ali (Ashley Banks); Karyn Parsons (Hilary Banks); Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey Butler); Daphne Reid (Vivian Banks); Ross Bagley (Nicky Banks); and, of course, DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jazz) appeared by his side. He had a very special guest in Janet Hubert, who portrayed the original Aunt Viv. She explained her side of why they bitterly parted ways when she was dropped from the show after its first three seasons and then replaced. The result was an hour and change of nostalgic TV that made the audience laugh (Ribeiro did the Carlton dance!) and cry, especially when the cast remembered the late James Avery, who played Uncle Phil. Afterwards, Smith and Hubert sat down on Red Table Talk for a deeper dive into their relationship.
Even Lindsay Lohan came out for this one! Writer Tina Fey, actors Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lacey Chabert and more popped up on Mean Girls Day, Oct. 3, to remind fans to vote in the pending presidential election. They talked about how they were cast in the fan favorite as part of their conversation. Lohan, for instance, explained that she’d originally wanted the part of “queen bee” Regina George, but she eventually related to Cady. “Between the movie I had done before and Mean Girls, I had gone back to regular school and it was a really weird transition for me,” Lohan said. “I was kind of like an outcast so I really related to it.”
Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey
The Grey’s Anatomy favorites parted ways in a heartbreaking storyline in 2015, but Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd returned to see Pompeo’s Meredith Grey on two episodes in November. Pompeo said the idea for the Dempsey reunion came to her while she and Dempsey were hiking together near the beach in Malibu. “There’s just so much darkness,” Pompeo told Deadline, “and we knew that coming together would be a little ray of light. And so, I think we had the same idea, at the core, to want to help people and bring a smile to people’s faces. So, he loved the idea, and we were just so excited, and we had a ball filming it.” In December, T.R. Knight, an original cast member who left the show in 2009, came back, too.
The Parent Trap
The cast of another Lindsay Lohan favorite got together in July, 22 years after the beloved family comedy premiered, to benefit World Central Kitchen. While they shared some laughs, they also reminisced over working with Natasha Richardson, the actress who played the twins’ mom before she died in a skiing accident in March 2009. As Dennis Quaid, who played her ex, said, “[She was] just somebody so giving and so glad to be there and transmitted that joy of being able to do what we do and just made everything that much better.” Lohan said she had been “so maternal to me.”
When the UPN/CW sitcom debuted on Netflix in September, on the show’s 20th anniversary, stars Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Jill Marie Jones and Persia White celebrated by getting back together. They talked about the intense bond they formed on the sitcom, which began when they were in their 20s and ran for eight seasons. It was lauded for depicting a Black female friendship in a way rarely seen on TV, addressing issues like colorism and domestic violence. “I just feel like we did something so beautiful and not just for women,” Jones said. “For us, we need this right now. I didn’t know it was going to do what it did.” They also revisited some of their early, very of-the-moment looks.
Back to the Future
Everyone — and we mean everyone —turned out for this one: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, Mary Steenburgen and even director Robert Zemeckis. Actor Josh Gad, who says he’s seen the film “no less than 350 times,” hosted on his of-the-moment virtual reunion series, Reunited Apart, which featured a performance of the movie’s theme song, “The Power of Love.” The audience had the chance to see them ask each other questions, like when Fox asked Thompson which version of his mother was it the most fun to play. Her answer was a tie, between the young, teenager mom and the older, drunk version of Lorraine we see in the second film. Another gem was when Loyd hilariously asked Fox how often he turns on the news and says, “This is heavy.” Fox’s response was “a lot.”
Parks and Rec
After five years apart, in April, the full cast of the NBC sitcom came back together for a new episode to benefit Feeding America. And it was like nothing had changed! The conceit — the characters themselves were on a conference call from their homes during the pandemic — made it possible for audiences to know what’s happened to Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope and the gang since they signed off. Like all of the original episodes from when they all worked together in Pawnee, Ind., the show was sunny and sweet. The characters even took the opportunity to discuss the importance of social distancing and hand washing, but it never felt preachy. It made perfect sense when Nick Offerman, in character as the great Ron Swanson, said, “I’ve been practicing social distancing since I was 4 years old.”
Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo
The cast and crew of the ‘80s cult classics gathered for a Yahoo Entertainment event to look back on their amazing dance moves and all the training they put in to nail them. They also discussed how the “Electric Bugaloo” part of the title factored into some of the sequel’s reputation for being just plain bad. (The 1984 flick has a 29 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on seven reviews.) They even talked about a possible third installment...
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart show managed to get Ferris Bueller himself (aka Matthew Broderick) to show up! Broderick and his co-stars in the 1986 John Hughes film, including Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Broderick’s on-screen sister and real-life ex Jennifer Grey, reenacted scenes from the comedy and a celebrity super fan showed up to quiz them on how much they remember about it. Ben Stein was even there to deliver his famous line, “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”
The cast of the Disney show remembered late co-star Cameron Boyce, who was just 20 when he died from epilepsy in July 2019, during a touching episode of the Actors Fund series Stars in the House. Debby Ryan, Peyton List and their co-stars recalled their favorite memories of him. Ryan remembered he had been very supportive when her mom was going through cancer. “He had this sense, and was aware,” she said. “He would just come and give me hugs. And I will just never forget that; he was so special.” List called him “just an amazing person.”
Just like the Fox show that ran from 2009 to 2015, the Glee cast reunion, which happened in April as an episode of Stars in the House, included some musical moments. Amber Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz and Matthew Morrison were among those who took turns trying to reenact memorable performances on the musical comedy. Jane Lynch was there, too, being much kinder than Sue Sylvester, talking about the on-set dynamic between the actors playing the students and the ones playing the teachers.
John Krasinski, a former star of the NBC hit, brought the cast back together — seven years after their show ended — on an episode of his quarantine series, Some Good News. He surprised a couple whose wedding had been canceled due to COVID-19 by having Steve Carell, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms and most everyone else pop up to celebrate by dancing to Chris Brown’s “Forever,” the same song the characters jammed to on the show when Jim and Pam tied the knot. Seeing them all was enough to make die-hard fans weepy.
Reunited Apart host Gad decided he had to call the Ghostbusters cast, and Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts all answered. Director Ivan Reitman and his son, Jason, who directed the upcoming sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, were also part of the conversation between friends. The elder Reitman revealed that the late John Candy, who was originally offered Rick Moranis’s part, but he “didn’t really get it” — it being the script. Moranis was understandably grateful. Murray, meanwhile, revealed that the New York City mayor at the time of filming, Ed Koch, “did not like us at all,” but that didn’t matter much after he saw an early cut of the film. He knew it would be a hit. They also reminisced about writer and cast member Harold Ramis, who died in 2014. Akroyd called him a “brilliant collaborator.”
Elle Woods’s bend and snap move was the star of the virtual lovefest between Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Luke Wilson and many of their castmates when they caught up in October. They all joined in on a recreation of that moment in the 2001 flick! “People always, always ask me to do the bend and snap,” Witherspoon said. “The line that people remember the most is, ‘What, like it’s hard?’” They also swapped stories on their experiences in the casting process and shared other behind-the-scenes scoop.
Lord of the Rings
Reunited Apart shines again! Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood and Viggo Mortensen were just some of the cast members who gathered (virtually, of course) in May to look back on the insanely successful Lord of the Rings movies, the first of which arrived in theaters in 2001. Even director Peter Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens were on hand to trade behind-the-scenes stories. Notably, Ian Holm, who died in June, did not attend, but he sent his love. “It was kind of crazy at times, but everyone just gave their everything,” Tyler said of her favorite memories from the shoots. “It was so special. It was like growing up together.” Fun fact: This is, by far, the most watched episode of Josh Gad’s series, with a whopping 5.7 millions views and $171,000 raised for charity.
Father of the Bride
In September, audiences were treated to the unexpected Father of the Bride Part 3 (ish) short, to raise money for World Central Kitchen. Just like the first two installments of the franchise about a father (Steve Martin) trying to accept his daughter leaving the nest, the 25-minute sequel was written by Nancy Meyers. The script focused on the original actors — Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Kieran Culkin and more — reuniting for another relationship milestone. This time, it was Culkin’s Matty, who wanted to propose to his girlfriend, played by Little Women’s Florence Pugh. Robert De Niro and Ben Platt made special appearances.
The now grown-up kids from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s class in the hit movie met up virtually to reminisce about what it was like working with one of the biggest stars in the world at such a young age. They repeated some of their most memorable lines, commented on clips from the crowd-pleaser and recalled filming several alternate endings, because filmmakers weren’t sure yet which they were going to use. Hands down, the best moment was when Schwarzenegger himself popped up to surprise his former co-stars. “How are you guys doing?” he asked, before each of them updated their former on-screen teacher on their life in 2020.
Some of the OG cast members of the soapy MTV docuseries came clean about what was real and what was faked for the cameras at an October gathering attended by most of the gang. Even both Kristin Cavallari and Lauren Conrad were there! Cast member Stephen Colletti recalled that MTV had given the group all of 45 minutes of media training before releasing their show, which created quite the stir when it came out in 2004.
Of course, that Laguna Beach gathering happened two months after another buzzy reunion: the one a newly single Cavallari had with her ex Colletti back in August, although she insisted at the time that she was single. “I knew it was going to create a little commotion, I didn’t know to what degree,” Cavallari said. “That’s my most-liked photo on Instagram ever. More than my kids. More than anything in my life… I mean, I think it’s really neat that people are still so invested and it really takes people back to that time.”
In May, Hilary Duff stepped back into the role she played on the Disney sitcom in her early teen years for a table read of one of its more memorable episodes, “Between a Rock and a Bra Place.” She even brought a cardboard cutout of cartoon Lizzie! She was joined by many former cast members, including Adam Lamberg, Lalaine and Ashlie Brillault. They dished on what went on behind the scenes, and some of the writers were also on hand to explain why the episode — about Lizzie deciding to get a bra — was controversial at the time. As Duff explained, it was the first time the group had reunited, at least virtually, in years. While it looked like fans might get a chance to see them together again in a reboot, Duff said Dec. 16 that it wouldn’t happen after all.
The cast members of another Disney teen phenomenon, High School Musical, reassembled, too, although they do so much more regularly.
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