Aniston and Schwimmer met when they were cast as Rachel Green and Ross Geller, respectively, on "Friends."
In the 2021 "Friends" reunion special for HBO Max, Schwimmer said that he met Aniston, Courteney Cox (Monica Geller), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing), and Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani) for the first time at the table read for the pilot episode.
"Hearing all of you for the first time, that blew me away. I just thought everyone was so perfectly cast," Schwimmer recalled.
Cocreator David Crane said that they had to "beg" Schwimmer to consider the role of Ross because the actor had a bad experience on a previous show. After much convincing, he agreed to be on "Friends."
Rachel was the hardest and last of the main characters to get cast, because of how unlikable she could come across if she wasn't played correctly.
The creators of "Friends" loved Aniston when she auditioned, but she had already signed on for a show called "Muddling Through" and filmed a few episodes of it.
Regardless, she was cast and worked on both shows, even filming several episodes of "Friends" while "Muddling Through" was still on TV. If CBS had picked up "Muddling Through," the role of Rachel would have been recast and those first few episodes of "Friends" would have required reshoots with a different actress.
On the reunion special, Aniston said that when she met her "Friends" costars, she thought they were "the greatest group of people." She was also impressed by the script, so she went to the producers of "Muddling Through" and asked to be released from the sitcom in order to stay on "Friends."
September 22, 1994: "Friends" premiered on NBC, launching one of the most iconic on-screen couples in TV history: Ross and Rachel.
Their on-again-off-again relationship would lead to some of the show's most-referenced moments, most notably Ross' declaration that they were "on a break" when he had a one-night stand with another woman.
Phoebe also famously referred to Ross and Rachel as lobsters because the sea creatures fall in love and mate for life.
May 6, 2004: "Friends" concluded after 10 seasons, and Ross and Rachel got their happy ending.
On the series finale, Rachel prepared to move to Paris after accepting a job offer. Ross realized that he was still in love with her and didn't want her to leave, which prompted him to rush to the airport to profess his feelings and beg her to stay. Rachel apologized and boarded the plane anyway, and it seemed like the couple was over.
But then Ross returned to his apartment and played a message that Rachel left on his phone, saying that she felt awful for how she ended things with him. Rachel said that she loved him too, and then attempted to get off the plane and tell Ross in person.
The message cut off, but at the same moment, Rachel appeared in Ross' doorway and the two agreed that they were endgame.
October 15, 2019: Aniston broke Instagram when she joined the app and posted an epic selfie with Schwimmer and their "Friends" costars.
It's unclear when the photo was taken, but around that time, Aniston had opened up to Howard Stern about how "the whole gang" recently met up for dinner at Cox's home.
The "Morning Show" actress said that the stars "all happened to have a window of time," so they hung out together and "laughed so hard."
"Lightning in a bottle," she said of her friends, adding that they miss their show "every day."
May 27, 2021: Aniston and Schwimmer admitted that they were "crushing hard on each other" when the show started but never acted on their feelings.
The revelation came about during the long-delayed and highly anticipated "Friends" reunion that hit HBO Max in late May.
"The first season, I had a major crush on Jen," Schwimmer said during a group interview with host James Corden. "And I think at some point we were both crushing hard on each other."
The actor added that they never acted on their feelings for each other because they were never single at the same time.
"It was like two ships passing because one of us was always in a relationship and we never crossed that boundary," Schwimmer said. "We respected that."
In response, LeBlanc jokingly said: "Bulls---."
Aniston elaborated on their mutual interest in each other while mentioning Ross and Rachel's iconic first kiss on the sitcom, which took place during season two.
"I remember saying one time to David, 'It's going to be such a bummer if the first time you and I actually kiss is going to be on national television,'" she said.
Aniston continued: "Sure enough, the first time we kissed was in that coffee shop. So, we just channeled all of our love and adoration for each other into Ross and Rachel."
Aniston and Schwimmer's mutual crush was apparent to the cast and crew of "Friends."
During the unscripted reunion special, Schwimmer recalled him and Aniston being flirtatious when the cameras weren't rolling.
"I thought back on the very first year or two when we'd have breaks from rehearsal," he said. "There were moments where we would cuddle on a couch. And I'm thinking, 'How did everyone not know we were crushing on each other?'"
"We knew for sure," Cox said.
"Friends" executive producer and director Kevin Bright also told The Hollywood Reporter that during season one, "it was a very hot topic on the set because the electricity between them in the scenes was like, 'Oh my God, they can't be acting that, there's got to be something!'"
"Everybody was suspicious that something was going on," he added. "People made up their own rumors and at a certain point. But we all thought something might have been going on because they were just so good together."
Marta Kauffman, the cocreator of "Friends," also told the publication that the attraction was "pretty obvious."
"We didn't know for sure because we never asked either of them, but yes, we thought that perhaps might be going on," she said.
June 23, 2021: Aniston reiterated that she and her costar never dated, but she "would proudly say I banged Schwimmer if that happened."
"David was great [but] we were in relationships. It was always never the right time, and it wouldn't have worked," Aniston said in a group interview with Cox and Kudrow for SiriusXM's "The Howard Stern Show."
The actress also said that perhaps Ross and Rachel's on-again-off-again romance "resonated" with fans because they channeled their real-life feelings for each other.
"But, no, we never, on my life, [got together] and Courteney and Lisa would know if we did," she added. "They can vouch for me."
"I would proudly say I banged Schwimmer if that happened," Aniston joked. "He reminded me of my high school boyfriend, to be quite honest."
August 9, 2021: Anonymous "insiders" told UK publication Closer that the two stars were spending more time together following the reunion special.
"After the reunion, it became clear that reminiscing over the past had stirred up feelings for both of them and that chemistry they'd always had to bury was still there," the source said. "They began texting immediately after filming and, just last month, David flew from his home in New York to see Jen in LA."
The source said that they spent "quality time together" at Aniston's home and "were also spotted drinking wine, deep in conversation, as they walked around one of Jen's favorite vineyards in Santa Barbara, where it was clear there was lots of chemistry between them."
August 11, 2021: A representative for Aniston told Insider that the reports are not true.
"They are not dating. The whole story is a fabrication," Aniston's rep told us.
September 2021: Aniston told Entertainment Tonight that the dating speculation was "bizarre."
"That was bizarre. I could not believe that, actually. Like, really? That's my brother," she told ET. "But I understand it, though. It just shows you how hopeful people are for fantasies for dreams to come true."
Read the original article on Insider