Jennifer Gray talks about the anxiety she faced while performing in the first season of Friends and how it kept her from reprising the role later on.
During an interview with MediaVillagepublished online on Friday, the Dirty dancing star recalled being thrilled at first when she got the call for the show because she was such a fan.
But once she got on set, things changed. “When I did it I was so scared because they kept changing the script,” she explained. “It’s really hard being a guest star because you’re not a part of it and you’re really trying to figure it all out. They tried to figure out what the character was, what the scene was, and it changed and changed and changed. It all made me so anxious that I could barely do it.”
Gray took on the role of Mindy, Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) former best friend and bridesmaid, who ended up having an affair with and eventually marrying Rachel’s fiancé Barry.
After appearing on an episode of the hit show in 1995, she didn’t understand the feelings she was having, but she eventually discovered that she “had a lot of performance anxiety, and I just didn’t understand at the time that I needed help in the anxiety department.”
The Red dawn actress said that her anxiety even prevented her from participating in other opportunities. “Like when they asked me to do Saturday Night Live“I just couldn’t,” she said. “I said no.’ I was just too scared.”
Later, when asked to reprise her role of Mindy, Gray said she couldn’t. “They have someone else to play the part,” she recalls. “It makes me sad that I would say no to continuing Friends or do Saturday Night Live because of my fear. The truth is I wish I had people to help me navigate that kind of fear. But I couldn’t be there until I was there.” Jana Marie Hupp was eventually recast as Mindy.
While she’s had a lot of struggles during her career and overcame several setbacks, Gray said, “In life I always learn more from things where you feel like you’re failing, and from the successes you don’t learn as much, although they would be nice can be, but it’s all part of life.”