Jennifer Aniston: 'I could not get Rachel Green off of my back'

Being able to "shed" the "Friends" character later in her career was a huge relief, says the actress.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Randee Dawn

Landing the role of a lifetime is a dream for an actor. But as Jennifer Aniston said in a new interview, it can also be a great big trap.

Aniston played Rachel Green on "Friends" from 1994-2004, and over those years we came to love her both on and off camera. Yet that breakthrough part had some downsides, as she reveals in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

"I could not get Rachel Green off of my back for the life of me," she explained as part of a roundtable with Janelle Monae, Zendaya, Helena Bonham Carter, Reese Witherspoon and Rose Byrne. The interviewer had asked them if they'd struggled with wanting to be seen in ways that Hollywood disagreed with, and Aniston replied, "Oh, my God, yes."

Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) and Courteney Cox (Monica) in a 2004 episode of "Friends."NBC

She continued, "I could not escape 'Rachel from "Friends,"' and it's on all the time and you're like, 'Stop playing that f------ show!'"

Fortunately, she was cast in 2002's "The Good Girl," an independent film. "'The Good Girl' was the first time I got to really shed whatever the Rachel character was, and to be able to disappear into someone who wasn't that was such a relief to me," she said. "But I remember the panic that set over me, thinking, 'Oh, God, I don't know if I can do this. Maybe they're right. Maybe everybody else is seeing something I'm not seeing, which is you are only that girl in the New York apartment with the purple walls.'"

Hey, we like Rachel's purple walls, but we see where Aniston is coming from.

"Once you play comedy, they don't think you can do the drama; and if you're only seen as a dramatic actor, they don't think you can do comedy," she later added. "They forget that we're actors and we actually have it all in there. It's just about finding it and accessing it and getting the material."

Aniston as RachelGetty Images

And being allowed to do other things can be a real personal boost, as Aniston discovered.

"I was almost doing (the movie) for myself just to see if I could do something other than that," she said. "And it was terrifying because you're doing it in front of the world."

In the end, "The Good Girl" and Aniston's performance received positive reviews. That helped open her career up again, but, she said, so did time passing. "I just fought with myself and who I was in this industry forever, and it was constantly about trying to prove that I was more than that person. But there is such a freedom in getting older because you just stop giving a crap."