If there is a bucket list for things to do in Hollywood before you die, Jennifer Aniston just ticked two boxes in less than a week. Fresh off her first SAG Awards win for "The Morning Show," the actress took the reins of her first talk show when she stepped in for Ellen DeGeneres.
While not a stand-up comic, Jen has a natural charm and humor that played perfectly in the format. It certainly helped that her guests were people she’s known for a long time, and that one of them is one of the planet’s funniest human beings, Will Ferrell.
And while she stood by her promise not to scare follow-up guest Selena Gomez as Ellen has done countless times, Jen did take advantage of being on the Warner Brothers lot to make her way to the "Friends" set — still standing as part of the studio tour — and scare the bejezus out of people there.
Making the moment even funnier was the fact that the person setting the tour goers up for a photo on the Central Perk couch kept asking them to name off their favorite character from "Friends" … and no one, we mean no one said Rachel.
Countless times, as the picture was being taken, Jen would pop out from behind the couch lamenting that their favorite character was Joey or Ross!
Our favorite reactions, though, came from two different pairs of women. One woman simply screamed and could not stop, staring at Jen in a shock so real if she hadn’t been screaming, we’re not sure she’d have been breathing.
The other pair of women had such a subdued reaction, Jen actually retreated briefly back down behind the couch. But they were just processing their shock differently, and it finally manifested in a series of questions.
"Am I dreaming? Is it really you? Is there a mask on? Are you real? So you really film here?" she was asked breathlessly.
"I live here," Jen replied.
Ellen’s Darkest Secrets
Jen and Ellen have been friends for a long time, so it was perhaps no surprise that she followed the tradition of many guest hosts in trashing Ellen while she was away.
But Jennifer had some of the juiciest (and funniest) morsels of non-truth about the show’s regular host. She revealed Ellen’s real name — "Look it up" — how she’s on the run from the law, apparently loves Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest candle scene, and apparently throws pennies away. "She throws them right into the garbage in front of people," Jen said.
But the biggest surprise is that Ellen has another movie project you may not have heard of. "She once voiced an animated adult film called ‘Grinding Nemo,’" Jen said, adding with a wink, "It’s hard to find, but you know how to find it."
Burning Questions with Will Ferrell
Will was put on the hot seat, but luckily Jen was right there next to them as they both tried to tackle Ellen’s toughest "Burning Questions." For example, did you know that Will feels sexy when he puts on his referee outfit.
The answer was a callback to an earlier chat where Will revealed the soccer league he’s involved in with his kids requires parents to volunteer, and so he’d find himself standing in as a referee, complete with socks up to his knees and a bright shirt.
But what made it challenging was that he’s so recognizable among the younger set for one particular project. "I usually get through half a game before one of the kids on an opposing team is like, ‘Are you the Elf? What are you doing here?’" he said.
"That’s an advantage," Jen noted quickly, as all the kids on his son’s team already know him, so there’s no distractions for them.
"It’s all tactical," Will agreed.
As expected, Will riffed through most of those "Burning Questions," coming up with some ridiculous and hilarious answers, but he was stunned into silence when he was asked the first person he kissed. "What was her name?" He mused. "It was … Abby … Gabby!" But even then, he wasn’t sure.
Jen called him on it later when asked to name his first celebrity crush. "Don’t say Gabby Abby," she shot at him. But he gave his real answer here (or answers, as he had two), noting the blank looks on the audience’s faces as they clearly aren’t familiar with either "Happy Days" or "Eight Is Enough."
Jen went with Shaun Cassidy, and the audience had no problem getting on board with that one.
Another highlight came when they were asked to reveal the weirdest rumor they’d ever heard about themselves. "That I died in a hang gliding accident," Will said. But it wasn’t a joke. As for Jen? "I don’t have time for this."
Also worth the price of admission is their lengthy explanation as to why they agreed that scuba diving was the one thing they’d both tried and would never do again. "We’re not supposed to be down there. It’s their world, not ours," Will said.
First Impressions with Will and Selena
Both Will and Jen remember when they first met, as it was during the "Friends"-ied heights of her early career and his career-building breakout turn on "Saturday Night Live."
"I remember being very nervous to meet you and you were so nice to our cast," Will told her. "I had grown my hair out and cut it in a Rachel. You were like, ‘That does not look good on a man.’ But you told me gently."
Still laughing constantly, Jen said that’s what she remembered most about Will from her time hosting the show back in 1999. "You always made me break, and you always broke. And I don’t know if you did that to make me break or–"
In her pause, Will offered an explanation. "No, I’m just a bad actor."
Later, it was a mutual admiration society between Jen and Selena Gomez, celebrating the best critical acclaim of her career and her number one album "Rare."
While the women have actually known each other for years now, and Selena has even been to Jen’s house, it was only Selena who remembered the very first time they met.
Well actually, it might count as more of a celebrity encounter, as Selena was not yet famous. But it was still a huge deal for the unabashed "Friends" superfan.
"Nobody knew who I was and you were in the bathroom wearing a black dress," she told Jen, showing just how much this moment had imprinted on her. "I think we were at a Vanity Fair or something event."
It was an innocent enough experience, as Selena went into the bathroom and shared the space briefly with the actress before Jen left. No words were exchanged, but Selena said Jen was still "perfect." Jen just hoped she’d washed her hands.
"My heart stopped and I ran to my mom, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I just saw Jennifer Aniston,’" Selena recalled.
It was sort of the same reaction — only far less animated — of many of the people from that Central Perk set. Jen had actually invited them to the show, with all of them perched above the set in a special Starbucks Starbox.
In fact, before the interview even began, Selena turned to them with some choice words for none of them choosing Jen as their favorite. "First off, are you guys kidding me?!" she shouted up to them. "Rachel was my life!"
You can check out her entire interview segment below:
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