Jennifer Grey Explains How Her 'Bad Anxiety' Kept Her From Reprising 'Friends' Role
Dirty Dancing actor Jennifer Grey almost had a recurring role on the popular NBC sitcom Friends. She explained in a recent interview why things didn't pan out.
In an episode from the show's first season, Grey originated the role of Mindy Hunter, Rachel's (Jennifer Anniston) backstabbing maid-of-honor from her canceled wedding with Dr. Barry Farber (Mitchell Whitfield).
After Rachel left Barry at the alter, he wound up taking Mindy on his honeymoon.
In the same season's 20th episode, titled “The One with the Evil Orthodontist," Mindy asked Rachel to be her maid-of-honor for her wedding with Barry.
Much was revealed later on–including the fact Barry previously had an affair with Mindy while he was engaged to Rachel, who later became the "other woman" while he was romantically involved with Mindy.
You can watch scenes from "The One with the Evil Orthodontist," here.
In an exclusive interview with MediaVillage, Grey said she was thrilled after landing the role of Mindy.
\u201cJennifer Grey was unable to reprise her role on 'Friends' due to the 'bad anxiety' she felt trying to keep up with the NBC comedy's constantly changing script. https://t.co/ogd5APOq1M\u201d— Entertainment Weekly (@Entertainment Weekly) 1682382632
Recalled the actor:
"I was a fan of the show, and I got the call to do it."
But Grey was not prepared for the frenzied pace of keeping up with the show's demands.
"Then when I did it, I had such bad anxiety because they kept changing the script."
"It's very hard to be a guest star because you're not a part of it, and you're really trying to figure it all out."
"They were trying to figure out what the character was, what the scene was, and it was changing, and changing, and changing. It all made me so anxious that I could barely do it."
"I didn't know at the time what was going on with me."
"But I had a lot of performance anxiety, and I just didn't understand at that time that I needed help in the anxiety department."
It was her paralyzing anxiety that prevented Grey from enjoying further career success, including a stint on SNL.
"I always just [felt] like I wished I had the ability to do things. Like when they asked me to do Saturday Night Live, I just couldn't. I said 'No.'"
"I was just too scared."
The role of Mindy in the second season of Friends was recast with actress Jana Marie Hupp, but not before Warner Bros. asked Grey to reprise her character.
"When they asked me to come back, I said I couldn't."
"They got someone else to play the role. It makes me sad that I would say no to continuing on 'Friends' or doing 'Saturday Night Live' because of my anxiety."
"The truth is, I wished I had people to help me navigate that kind of fear. But I couldn't be there until I was there."
Upon reflection, Grey harbored no resentment and commented on the unique situation of working in Hollywood.
The actor said:
"It's such a weird thing to be an actor, and it's hard to make a living, make a career, to work, and to do what you love doing."
"We all appreciate all the gifts that come our way, and it is such an incredible honor every time we get to act."
Grey's acting career is far from over.
She recently portrayed Gwen Shamblin in the Lifetime TV movie, Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation.
She is also set to reprise her iconic Dirty Dancing character Frances “Baby” Houseman in the long-awaited sequel to the 1987 romantic film but only under the condition it's "perfect" in honor of Grey's co-star, the late Patrick Swayze.
\u201cThe new film, also titled 'Dirty Dancing', is due to go into production later this year, with the studio eyeing a 2024 release: https://t.co/XMoZ8XDkoV\u201d— British Vogue (@British Vogue) 1652184650
She was hesitant about mentioning any release dates for the sequel she assured fans was “definitely happening."
“We’re not giving up any dates at the moment," she said.
"Because really, what I’m doing, my whole job with this is to get it right, get it really right, in Patrick’s honor, in honor of all of the fans’ relationship with the movie.”
“If you’re going to do that movie again, it has to be right.”