Many Friends followers know that a lot of well-known actresses went out for the role of Rachel Green. Among those that tested, one hailed from a fan-favorite sitcom with its own avid fanbase. That’s right: you can add Saved by the Bell‘s Tiffani Thiessen to those who tested for the iconic role that ended up going to Jennifer Aniston. So, why did Thiessen not get the part? Tiffani Thiessen explained, saying:
“So close and yet so far,” as the adage goes. Thanks to Tiffani Thiessen sharing the casting story on You Up with Nikki Glaser, we know how close it came and why it did not happen. The age difference that played a role in Thiessen losing the role was not a gigantic one, but it was enough. Jennifer Aniston is almost exactly five years older than Thiessen, and while that does not seem like a vast age difference, there is an important context to remember.
Jennifer Aniston was 25 years old, while Tiffani Thiessen would have been 20. Friends deciding to cast an actress in her mid-twenties versus the very early part of them makes sense. Of course, it does lead one to wonder how different things would have been if Tiffani Thiessen had been cast instead of Jennifer Aniston. Would we have had the Rachel haircut that set the hair world ablaze? Would Ross and Rachel’s chemistry had fueled nearly a decade of television’s romantic angst? We will never know.
The thing is the timing would have been perfect for Tiffani Thiessen to have taken on the role. She was fresh off the success of Saved by the Bell. The sitcom aired its final episode in 1993, and like Friends, it aired on NBC. Friends premiered a year after Saved by the Bell went off the air, debuting in 1994.
Plus, Tiffani Thiessen had the experience of playing a young woman involved in a will-they-won’t-they romantic relationship. Before there was Ross and Rachel, there was Zack and Kelly. Just saying. In light of the casting decision, things have turned out well for both Thiessen and Jennifer Aniston. Despite the different roads that have gotten them there, they have both have ended up with something in common: Netflix.
Tiffani Thiessen is currently starring on the Netflix series Alexa & Katie, while Jennifer Aniston will be starring in the upcoming political comedy, First Ladies. So, in a way, things have sort of come full circle for them. Both are such strong actresses; it would be neat if they shared the screen. Maybe in a Netflix show! Who knows what the future could hold? In the meantime, fall television should keep us busy while we find out.