Since Friends wrapped in 2004, Jennifer Aniston has gone on to cultivate a thriving career that Rachel Green herself would be proud to see. But the beloved actress’ post-Friends success also came with notable personal pitfalls, including the 2005 finalization of her divorce from Brad Pitt. In a new profile, the Emmy winner reflected on that shocking period of her life, and how the expectations she had for her personal life didn’t pan out the way she hoped they would.

For Aniston, it was the Friends reunion that really took her back to that difficult chapter in her personal life. Being back on the recreated sets “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?’” Aniston shared during her recent profile with The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

Post-Friends, Aniston’s life was in flux, and she didn’t exactly know what to expect next as an actress. “The career was one thing. I didn’t know what was coming, and that’s been nothing but blessed,” Aniston said of life after Friends. While so much of Aniston’s career following the series finale of the popular sitcom brought her “joy,” it was her marriage and any plans she had for the future that took the sharpest turn.

“It was more personal stuff that I had expectations about that sort of shape-shifted, so to speak,” she shared, subtly referencing her five-year marriage to Pitt. “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.”

Aniston and Pitt’s divorce was highly publicized at the time as he quickly moved on with Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie, and even to this day, fans still have a fixed fascination with the former couple’s relationship. More than 15 years after the former couple’s split, though, Aniston has a refreshing, thoughtful perspective on her life: as shocking and life-altering as it was at the time, she’s grateful it all played out the way it did.

“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.”

Before you go, click here to see celebrity couples who were married to other people when they met. 

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