Last year, as the world was grappling with the onset of COVID-19, the cast and crew of AppleTV+ prestige drama Morning Wars were plunged into uncertainty. Production for season two was about to get underway when the pandemic set in and forced them to reassess.
In an exclusive cover story for the October issue of marie claire Australia, Jennifer Aniston is frank about the challenges of filming the new season during lockdown. “We weren’t together the way we were before,” she says, recalling the daily COVID tests, endless masks and elaborate social distancing protocols necessary to shoot Morning Wars safely. “One of the great things about doing a show is [that] your crew is your family. But we were all separated this time. So it wasn’t the joyful creative experience you’re used to. I missed seeing everyone’s faces.”
Despite the hurdles, they once again delivered a standout season that confirms why Morning Wars is one of the most addictive television shows streaming right now. Aniston’s been unabashed in her praise for the show, which brought her out of post-Friends TV retirement in 2019, and has elicited one of the finest performances of her career. “It’s one of the most beautiful gems you could hope for,” she enthuses of the show she stars in with Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell and Billy Crudup.
Although the show is set shortly before the pandemic, the world of Morning Wars is a recognisably dark and tumultuous place. “We had a little bit of a dark blanket over us,” says Aniston of shooting season two. “But that was what the season was about, so it lent itself to what we were doing.”
Still, Aniston says, she was thrilled to be working – and humbled by what she describes as a period of “personal re-evaluation” that came about during the long lockdown of 2020. “When you feel, energetically, the whole world come to a halt, and something bigger than all of us, bigger than anything, takes over … Everyone was powerless in this moment, and all we could do was stay home. And I think it forced a lot of us to have a little bit of personal re-evaluation on what is important and what’s not important.” At the same time, Aniston says there was part of her that also “loved being in that solitude”
Despite the darkness of 2020, an unexpected highlight arrived in the form of the long-awaited Friends reunion, which aired on HBO in late May this year. Though Aniston had indicated in recent years that she was open to the idea of revisiting Central Perk with the original cast, the reality of actually doing it brought a whole other level of joy. “I don’t think any of us expected it. I think we had a fantasy of what it was going to be like to travel back in time. But what we didn’t realise was that it [would be] like Cinderella.”
And what about those rumours she actor David Schwimmer are dating? “That’s really funny,” she laughs. “I was just saying, ‘I hadn’t heard a word of this.’ Honestly. I was getting a couple of texts from people saying, ‘I thought you were on a break, LOL.’ And I kept saying, ‘What are you talking about?’ And then I went online to see what was happening and I was like, ‘That is the funniest rumour that I never heard that got shot down in the quickest amount of time.’”
As for the future, Aniston is busy prepping to film Murder Mystery 2 with Adam Sandler in January and has a couple of other projects in the pipeline that she isn’t at liberty to discuss. “I’m missing movie theatres,” Aniston says. “But I just want to do great work in whatever medium it comes up in.”
For the full cover story, pick up the October issue of marie claire Australia, on sale Thursday September 23.