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Saying Goodbye to Friends

04/08/2004 at 01:00 PM EDT

Saying Goodbye to Friends
The final shoot put the Friends back where it all began: the couch at Central Perk.

Jennifer Aniston

I was 23 years old when we started. Now here we are in our 30s and some of us have been married and some babies have been born. ... What's so weird about this show is that so much of our lives get in there. ... Whether it was a relationship thing or a parental thing, a situation in our lives is somehow always being played out on the show. ... It did feel like I was growing up in front of everybody.

There was something especially after 9/11 that clicked for us. It was hard to come back to work and do a sitcom when the world was falling apart. I remember feeling very helpless and not knowing what our place was anymore. ... It all felt very trite. Then little by little, that first show we did, there was so much energy in the audience and I realized people just desperately needed that release. And the laughter was harder than ever. ... People came up to me after 9/11 and said, "Thank you for a half hour of escape." It brings me to tears thinking about that time. We looked at each other and we went, "Okay, I guess this is what we're doing."

[Her husband, Brad Pitt, guest-starred on the show later that year.] Ahh, wasn't he great? ... And boy, let me tell you, he worked so hard. We had so much fun doing that show, and it was fun for me to have him come into my world and see what this was all about. And he so admired it, and it was great. But boy, I've never seen anybody so nervous. ... He was thinking, "I'm going to blow my first line, I know I am. I'm going to blow it." And we're telling him, "Stop saying that, because you're going to do fine." Sure enough, he did blow it. He had to. It was like he had to screw up his first line.

Every single person in this cast is my family. I'm going to miss Matthew Perry making me laugh and then making me cry. ... Matt [LeBlanc] is just heaven. He has such heart. I always laugh at our past because I used to be terrified of him. He was leather, head to toe – one of those guys. And all you're thinking is "Oh, he's going to try to get me into bed. I can just see it a mile away." Then he turned out to be the sweetest, most lovable man.

[Executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane] set the tone for this family. Big group dinners, group watching of the shows, group this, group that. [And they] have been so supportive of us doing other jobs. It feels as if Mom and Dad want their kids to do well ... and have lives beyond this place. And hopefully we will.

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