Jennifer Aniston got emotional during NBC’s tribute to James Burrows. The former Friends star sat with her cast mates Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer at the star-studded Must-See TV: A Tribute To James Burrows event, which honored television’s most famed sitcom director, who recently shot his 1,000th episode of television. But the night didn’t end with dry eyes for the 47-year-old actress, who wiped away tears as the famed director spoke about this long journey in the TV world.
While the entire cast from the hit 1990s comedy shared stories from their time together on the set, Jennifer Aniston seemed to be the most emotional. During the NBC TV special, Aniston revealed that the cast would do anything for Burrows; not only did he jumpstart their careers, but he also fostered their real-life lifelong friendships.
“We would do anything for Jim Burrows, because he gave us the opportunity of a lifetime. And probably the best 10 years of our acting careers.”
Jennifer went on to describe the close bond that she has with her Friends co-stars, and she detailed what they have been through together since the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom first kicked off its 10-season run in 1994.
“We experienced friendship, family, heartbreak, babies, everything, together. And we also had a wonderful experience with the world loving us as well.”
In addition to explaining that Burrows pushed for the cast’s real-life bond so much that he gave them his large dressing room so they could hang out together and play poker, Aniston revealed that she originally auditioned for Courteney Cox’s part of Monica Geller, while Cox auditioned for Aniston’s part of Rachel Green. Jennifer also dished that her favorite episodes of Friends involved flashbacks to a fat Monica, a pre-nose job Rachel, and “Ross with his afro.” When speaking of Burrows, Aniston fondly described the legendary television director as “our papa.”
It was clear that there was a lot of love in the room for Burrows from Jennifer Aniston and the rest of the Friends stars. (Show alum Matthew Perry was missing from the gala — he was in London working on the play The End of Longing — but the actor taped a video introduction for the rest of the cast.) And ahead of the broadcast, Jennifer’s TV love, David Schwimmer, told Entertainment Tonight that he and his ’90s co-stars were all thrilled to be together in the same room to honor the iconic director, who directed 15 episodes of Friends.
“Well, it was just lovely to be in the same room and to honor Jimmy, who we all really love. He’s a prolific director, and he really helped forge the cast as an ensemble and really clarified all those relationships from the get-go.”
During the tribute show, Jennifer Aniston began to visibly tear up after her mentor took the stage and thanked his sitcom protégés for putting together the tribute while he was still alive to enjoy it. The 75-year-old director said he could never have reached the 1,000-epside milestone without the help of all of the actors and crews on the dozens of shows that he worked on, and he also tipped his hat to his father for teaching him the virtues of patience when he was a child.
“I thank you all for this trip down memory lane from the bottom of my comedic heart. And, as my good friend George Strait says, ‘I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time.'”
Take a look at the video below to see Jennifer Aniston and the rest of the Friends cast talk about their love for the legendary television director.
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]