The “Friends” reunion was way tougher than Jennifer Aniston thought it was going to be.

The actress tells The Hollywood Reporter for their “Women in Entertainment” issue that the special was more emotional than she had anticipated: “I think we were just so naive walking into it, thinking, How fun is this going to be? They’re putting the sets back together, exactly as they were. Then you get there and it’s like, ‘Oh right, I hadn’t thought about what was going on the last time I was actually here.’

“And it just took me by surprise because it was like, ‘Hi past, remember me? Remember how that sucked? You thought everything was in front of you and life was going to be just gorgeous and then you went through maybe the hardest time in your life?’ It was all very jarring and, of course, you’ve got cameras everywhere and I’m already a little emotionally accessible, I guess you could say, so I had to walk out at certain points. I don’t know how they cut around it.”

Jennifer Aniston. Credit: Ruvén Afanador
Jennifer Aniston. Credit: Ruvén Afanador

Aniston shares of what she thought her life and career would be like post-“Friends”, which ran from 1994 to 2004: “The career was one thing. I didn’t know what was coming, and that’s been nothing but blessed. It’s a different calibre of work but I love it, no matter what, even if it’s a terribly reviewed, dumb comedy, it doesn’t matter if it brings me joy.

“It was more personal stuff that I had expectations about that sort of shape-shifted, so to speak. That was what was jarring, that we all had an idea of what the future was going to be, and we were going to go hunker down and focus on this or that and then it all just changed overnight and that was it. But again, everything’s a blessing if you’re able to look at life’s ups and downs in that way. And if it all hadn’t happened, I would not be sitting here the woman that I am.”

READ MORE: Jennifer Aniston Reunites With Ex Justin Theroux For ‘Facts Of Life’ Taping In Sweet Shot

The star, who has dealt with her fair share of pregnancy rumours over the years, also takes a swipe at the press as she admits the level of tabloid coverage has just shifted: “I think people are still doing it today. What the tabloids and the media did to people’s personal lives back then, regular people are doing now. Although I haven’t seen a tabloid in so long. Am I still having twins? Am I going to be the miracle mother at 52? (Laughs.)

“Now you’ve got social media. It’s almost like the media handed over the sword to any Joe Schmo sitting behind a computer screen to be a troll or whatever they call them and bully people in comment sections. So it’s just sort of changed hands in a way. And I don’t know why there’s such a cruel streak in society. I often wonder what they get off on.”

READ MORE: Jennifer Aniston To Star In ‘The Facts Of Life’ Live Reenactment

Jennifer Aniston. Credit: Ruvén Afanador
Jennifer Aniston. Credit: Ruvén Afanador

The “Murder Mystery” actress tells THR of how she’s managed to stay grounded: “A godsend of support — just so many evolved, positive people around me. I also grew up watching someone [Aniston’s late mother] sit comfortably in victimhood, and I didn’t like how it looked. I knew that this person was giving me an example of what I’d never want to be, and I will never ever be that.

“I think it’s toxic, and it erodes your insides and your soul. And listen, is it a sliver of an annoyance to have to publicly go through dark s**t in front of the world? Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s all relative. So, I had a choice to make: Either I’m going to surrender into bonbons and living under my covers or I’m going to go out there and find a creative outlet and thrive, and that’s what I did. It just happened to be with a movie called ‘The Breakup’.”