Jennifer Aniston turned down 'SNL' for 'Friends' (and other great decisions actors have made?)

Jennifer-AnistonImage Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty ImageChatting with Oprah Winfrey yesterday to promote their new comedy Just Go With It, Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler revealed that she was offered a chance to join Saturday Night Live‘s cast before she shot the Friends pilot, but she turned it down because she was, actually, ready for prime-time. “I remember being on the ninth floor where Lorne Michaels’ office was, and seeing Jen come in,” Sandler said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God. There’s Aniston. Is she about to be on our show?'” No, she was about to gracefully decline. “It was a boys’ club,” Aniston said. “They thought I was making a huge mistake.”

I assume we all agree, in hindsight, this was one of the wisest decisions an actor has ever made. Financially, Aniston never has to work again. When Friends concluded its 10-year run, she was pulling down $1 million per episode. Whether or not her movies have hit, she’s had the opportunity to be a leading lady multiple times over — which is something that’s eluded most every female SNL alum not named Tina Fey. You could argue she might not be as typecast if she’d been playing different characters every Saturday night, but even sketch goddesses Fey and Amy Poehler struggle with similar perception issues.

What are other great decisions that actors have made? Go!

Read more:
Jennifer Aniston goes almost topless in ‘Allure,’ and (gasp!) disses ‘the Rachel’
Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston ‘Just Go With It’ in new trailer
Jennifer Aniston’s ‘GQ’ cover: How do you not love this woman?

Comments (149 total) Add your comment
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  • Sam

    I wish Maya Rudolph would break out as a big star. I thought she was excellent in the mediocre “Away We Go” and I felt like she was the most versatile and creative performer on the show in the last few years.

    • gigi

      She’s starring in The Bridesmaids. It looks pretty funny!

    • AK

      Agreed. She’s a remarkable talent: comedically, dramatically and musically. Hopefully, she’ll have some film success soon!

    • kurt

      I appreciate “Away We Go” more each time I get sidetracked by it while flipping channels. Especially Rudolph. I’d almost like to see her host some kind of cool (if that’s possible these days) variety show.

  • ERNIE CAPSLOCK

    I SERIOUSLY DOUBT SHE WAS EVER CONSIDERED FOR SNL. SHE MAY HAVE TRIED OUR FOR IT AND TRIED TO HAVE HER DADDY PULL SOME STRINGS, BUT THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT SHE WOULD’VE BEEN CAST.

    • UGH

      I doubt if Sandler even knew who she was if he spotter her unless he was a huge Leprachaun fan. She was too unknown. Nice try promoting you movie.

      • UGH

        My typing is horrendous today.
        I meant “spotted” and “your”.

      • Karl

        I agree with that. There is NO WAY Sandler knew who she was pre-Friends unless she slept around alot. He’s really grasping for straws with having to lie to promote a movie.

      • Jen

        Okay, clearly I’m the only one who saw the interview in which Sandler and Aniston talked about how they met in their early 20’s through a mutual friend and have been friends since. This was before Sandler made it on to SNL and that’s why Sandler knew who she was when he saw her in the SNL hallway. But way to loose your anger over such a tiny story.

      • Allison

        No, Jen, I think I’ve either read/watched that story as well… in addition, I don’t really think the idea of Sandler being a fan of “Leprechaun” is too much of a stretch.

      • mary v

        agree, I think they’re just desperate to promote their new movie, since neither of their latest flicks have been a sucess… who knew Aniston before Friends? NO ONE!

      • Big Walt

        Warwick Davis knew her before Friends.

      • Mary

        sandler and aniston have been friends for over 20 yrs, so yah, he knew who she was in 1994.

      • judygirl

        I saw the interview with Oprah, and he did know her when they were still nobodies. A lot of you comics and actors knew each other back when.

      • judygirl

        whoops…I meant “young actors.”

      • Grubi

        @mary v I’m pretty sure Adam Sandler’s last movie could be considered a success since it made upwards of 270 million worldwide. The movie itself looks terrible, but it still made a boatload of money.

      • REASON

        they were both coming up around the same time, she had a sitcom last a short season before “Friends,” plus all the auditioning, it is entirely possible he knew who she was, plus she probably was in talks for it, so he may have met her throught that, you don’t just get offered SNL, she probably auditioned multiple times.

      • Jesse

        Hello? Does no one remember her as Ferris’ sister on the “Ferris Bueller” TV show? That is how I knew of her when “Friends” started. Wasn’t she also on some other sketch comedy thing? Am I making things up?

      • Jesse

        Duh. I should have kept reading…

      • Jason

        He for sure knew who she was. I did and I am not an actor in the industry. She was in a bunch of TV series before friends including the sketch comedy The Edge. The world of Los Angeles comedy is a very small close knit group.

      • Alan of Montreal

        I was about to mention her stint on The Edge, too. The one time I watched that show (which was in New Zealand, of all places), I saw her in a hilarious skit about Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, and she was spot on. You can look it up on YouTube–there’s a few clips there.

      • michelle

        Okay, you shouldn’t be making ridiculous comments like that if you don’t get your facts straight. Jen and Adam met through a mutual friend like 20 years ago…meaning before Friends. So they def knew each other. Oh and I totally belive that SNL wanted her to be a cast member cuz she was hilarious but turning it down was a great decision because Friends was AMAZING!

    • KK

      She was on a sketch show called “The Edge” which didn’t run long, but perhaps people on other sketch shows watched it…

      • Gary

        She was also in Ferris Bueller (the TV show) and a show called Muddling Through as well as guest roles in a couple of other shows. I don’t think it is all that outside the realm of possibility he knew who she was.

      • Just the Facts

        I remember her on The Edge. It also featured Wayne Knight and Julie Brown. I’m sure that’s what brought her to the attention of SNL.

    • Ethan

      I definitely remember her the year before Friends on a Fox sketch show called The Edge; her being cast on SNL makes a lot of sense.

      • v

        Whoops, didn’t see your post before I submitted mine. I remember really liking her on The Edge! She did a Wilson Phillips bit that was hilarious.

      • MattyB

        I thought of her on The Edge as the brunette Christina Applegate, and when she turned up on Friends the next year, we were all like “Hey, it’s Brunette Christina Applegate!” So, yeah. She was semi-recognizable by ’94. Also, as mentioned above, her & Sandler already kind of knew each other.

    • Kristen

      you are a hater!

    • Kristen

      get your info right before you make ignorant comments like that. she absolutely was offered the position and turned it down. so there

    • v

      She was actually on a sketch comedy show before friends, called The Edge with Julie Brown, and she was pretty good. I remember being surprised seeing a sketch comedy actor on a show like friends when it first aired.

    • Linney17

      Tone it down CAPSLOCK. Do you have a personal beef with her or something?

      • ERNIE CAPSLOCK

        SHE COULD USE MY PERSONAL BEEF BUT THAT’S ANOTHER TOPIC ALTOGETHER.

      • Leroy Grey

        actually, I think Mr Capslock was trying to type in traffic. I know it’s loud out there, but… dude, 10 and 2.

        oh, and that Fox sketch comedy show also had Seinfeld’s “Newman” and Spongebob Squarepants in the cast. Plus, the writing staff included Julie Brown and Charlie Kaufman – all of a sudden, I want to see this on DVD…

    • Grumpster

      Pheh….her acting stinks. Her body on the other hand…

      Turn the caps off there CAPSLOCK dude.

    • MattyB

      She was already doing sketch comedy at that time. In fact, her & Lisa Kudrow both auditioned for SNL back then. Kudrow was not chosen & Anniston said no before they had actually decided on her. Was that the year Janeane Garofalo was added as the New Girl?

    • Jane

      I remember her as a regular cast member on a Fox sketch comedy show called “The Edge.” They did this one sketch where America could vote on a new tv show and by pushing a like or dislike button. If they disliked something about the show, the actors would get a jolt. Everytime the actors did something stupid, the actors would get revulse from getting buzzed to death. A cute moppet walks in and he expodes on screen. Then in walks Aniston in a bikini and instead of getting buzzed, the like buttons go off like crazy. We see a shot of next weeks show and it is a bunch of pretty girls in bikinis playing volleyball in the living room of the house. Aniston did a great job acting fearful and I remember her doing really well in other sketches on the show. I would completely believe her getting offered a job on SNL. Back then it really was a boy’s club to the point that even in sketches about women, the guys were playing them (remember the Gap Girls?) She made a great decision to walk away.

    • kurt

      And around the same time (or maybe a little sooner), they were also looking at Lisa Kudrow. But it makes sense they would want her. She was on “The Edge” and, even though the show had issues, she was still obviously very funny.

    • Donald

      None of the books that have been written about the show have mentioned this.

    • Stan

      hahaha Ernie, don’t you feel stupid now?

  • tracy bluth

    Christina Hendricks said that her agency dropped her when she joined the cast of Mad Men. Obviously she made a great decision.

  • mcshame

    She was actually in the Julie Brown led sketch comedy show on Fox called “The Edge” before “friends” and was very funny. So, yes, she was known.

    • UGH

      The what?

      • Fog cue

        Pace University sucks!

  • Cici217

    Wow – SNL really dodged a bullet!!!

    • whatevs

      Because it’s such a great show now, right?

      • b

        At the time it actually was, before its late-90s decline.

        I’m surprised she was considered versatile enough for a show like SNL, since she basically plays herself/Rachel in every single movie she’s ever in. Some of it’s typecasting, sure, but a better actress could differentiate the roles a little.

      • KC

        I never got the hype for the last several years of SNL.
        Even the highly overrated Tina Fey was not that funny.

      • Jenna

        b, saying that she basically plays herself/Rachel in “every single movie” is an unfair assessment. While, yes, the majority of her roles are the same, she definitely did not play herself/Rachel in “The Good Girl” or “Friends With Money”.

      • MattyB

        I really loved her on Friends, she was perfect in that role, but I have disliked her in every movie. Especially The Good Girl. But that may have been more about Mike White’s condescending, contrived screenplay. But I thought she was particularly bad as a “typical smalltown” kind of girl.

      • A

        b, SNL went down hill in the early 90’s and late 80’s not the late 90’s

  • Gob Bluth

    Why does Hollywood continue to give Aniston movies to bomb in? She should’ve stuck with television.
    Although I would like to follow that chain necklace she’s got on to see how far it goes….

    • KC

      She sure does have a manly chin. I’m surprised she didn’t go the Michael Jackson-route and have a cleft put in.
      Sigh. I remember the days when she was hot. Pre-Brad Pitt that is. I think he’s kryptonite to all the women he dates.

      • Sara

        I would hate to have to live by your standards if you think Aniston WAS hot.

      • rich

        wow what a hater

      • James

        Oh, you mean with the mousy brown hair, brown eyes and chubby cheeks kind of hot?

      • KC

        Exactly. She had that great Greek physique unlike the cow you’re either married to or are one.

      • MattyB

        Poor, pitiful KC. Emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet, yet we can all still somehow sense your grossness even as you pretend to be attractive or that you could ever be with someone attractive.

  • Mr. Holloway

    Nicolas Cage turning down “The Wrestler” was a great decision. I just can’t imagine it would’ve been anywhere near as good with him instead of Mickey Rourke. (Plus, “The Wrestler” probably wouldn’t have paid much money, which Cage obviously needs.)

    • mscisluv

      I think that was a great career move for Mickey Rourke (and us!), but not sure Nic Cage would agree…

    • A

      Wow, Nic Cage probably would have ruined that movie. No way he could have pulled off what Rourke did.

  • Rach

    I thought George Clooney shouldn’t have left ER and like a lot of TV actors wasn’t going to have a great film career. Holy Moly did he make the right choice.

    • Here & There

      I remember Clooney from Rosanne days as Rosanne’s factory boss.

      • Gia Leah

        I remember him from The Facts of Life

      • Carrie

        And Jackie’s boyfriend! He was also on the Facts of Life as their handy man.

      • Leroy Grey

        Return of the Killer Tomatoes! Why they haven’t shown that on Turner Classic Movies yet, I just don’t know!

      • tomm

        Clooney didn’t have critical acclaim in films right away. When he was Batman, many said his movie career was “dead”.

  • Erik

    The lead in Salt was originally intended for Tom Cruise. They opted for Angelina Jolie instead.

  • bellestar

    Val Kilmer turned down Batman & Robin to do the Saint. I know that the Saint was not a ginormous success, but I enjoy that movie and Batman & Robin is a complete embarrasment.

    • GeeMoney

      I loved The Saint! Schumacher apparently didn’t want to work with Kilmer again after B&R b/c Val is notoriously difficult to work with. But he did get lucky.

    • A

      That was after he had already bombed as Batman once. And by the way, the Saint movie sucked! So he was 0 for 2

      • tomm

        ‘Batman Forever’ was fun, ‘Batman & Robin’ was stupid.

  • bellestar

    Also, Winona Ryder’s agent begged her not to do Heathers because they thought it would be the end of her career!

    • Juneau

      And she declined to do Godfather III in order to do The Age of Innocence for which she was nominated for an Oscar.

    • Jane

      Did she decline to do Godfather III? I remember that she became deathly ill and had to pull out of that movie.

  • whatevs

    I remember that they originally wanted Ashley Judd to be the tool girl on Home Improvement, but her agent decided she was going to do movies instead.

  • Canadian

    Only bellestar has actually posted a comment relating to the article and the requet for comments!

  • bridget212323

    she also had done a few sitcoms and had a track record. SNL is ALWAYS looking for pretty funny women thats probably why she got an offer.

    • FLGRL

      I’m assuming you mean “kind of funny” as opposed to “pretty and funny.” Most SNL ladies are not very pretty.

    • Jacklyn

      This article achieved exactly what I wtnead it to achieve.

  • David

    Every single article I ever see about Jennifer Aniston has people saying really cruel things about her in the comments section. I don’t know what this woman did wrong? Star in some bad movies? Have her husband leave her? I’m not even a fan of hers but I don’t understand the hate she gets.

    • Ana170

      She’s overexposed and most of the media exposure she gets makes her look desperate.

      • Jay

        i only ever hear about her when she’s promoting a new movie, which is standard for hollywood.

        other than that. nada. maybe it’s because I don’t read tabloids.

      • Lette

        Great comment… Why doesn’t Jenn turn down some of the crappy movies she’s in?? So sick of her and her mouth that she can’t seem to open all the way.

      • tomm

        Basically her ‘act’ is tiresome. And her 90’s look is dated.

        Needs to play realistic characters, instead of airhead ‘chick’ lookin for Mr. Right.

      • Aiden

        It’s irrational hate. You cannot find one justified comment anywhere on why people are hating on her

        And no–the fact that one judges and accuses her as tiresome, boring, lonely, or desperate does not count.

        She’s just a scapegoat of people’s hate. It’s ridiculous. People need to check themselves.

    • fey

      I think people are just so sick of her because she hasn’t done anything good or memorable since Friends and yet she gets all these publicity and cover of all these magazines then all she talks about is her hair and how she likes her butt toned etc. Her recent Allure cover for example- she talked about how not wearing mascara affected her acting skills. I swear I’m not making that up…

      • tomm

        She is mainly around to sell beauty products to 40ish women.

    • MattyB

      I don’t get the hate either. She seems like a nice person. She always comes off very down-to-earth by Hollywood standards. I haven’t loved her acting choices in most of her films, but I don’t feel the need to attack her for it. She actually seems kind of cool in most interviews.

    • Terry

      Don’t get it either. She seems like a nice person from what I’ve reaad. I like that her and Courtney Cox are really friends, and while she may not be Maryl Streep, I’ve mostly liked her in her films(though I haven’t liked many of her films). What gets me is some of the same people who put her down for being “untalented” are fans of stuff like the Kardashians and Jersey Shore, shows about truly awful, untalented, and unattractive people.

      • Stacie

        Very good point. I don’t understand all the hating when there is a hell of a lot worse crap out there like the examples you gave. She was damn good in Derailed and I liked The Good Girl. She’s made some decent movies and some so-so movies. Either way I find her personable and sweet. She’s been very graceful in the public eye with the whole Brangelina thing and she appears to be a very loyal, loving person. Added bonus: I think she’s HOT!

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