It was the bombshell that sent fans into meltdown during the Friends reunion show in May – Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer finally revealed they’d secretly harboured feelings for each other in real life, which they’d had to “channel” through their characters, Ross and Rachel, as they were always in other relationships off-screen.
And, in a revelation that will no doubt send fans into a further frenzy, insiders tell Closer that the former co-stars – who are both currently single – have been growing close again since shooting the sitcom’s 25th anniversary special.
A source says, “After the reunion, it became clear that reminiscing over the past had stirred up feelings for both of them and that chemistry they’d always had to bury was still there. They began texting immediately after filming and, just last month, David flew from his home in New York to see Jen in LA.
“They’ve been spending time at Jen’s home, where she’s cooked dinners in the evenings, and have enjoyed quality time together, chatting and laughing. They were also spotted drinking wine, deep in conversation, as they walked around one of Jen’s favourite vineyards in Santa Barbara, where it was clear there was lots of chemistry between them.”
Last week, the pair seemingly flirted with each other online as they promoted merchandise for the show. In his snap, David posed in a “lobsters” T-shirt featuring a silhouette print of their characters, and tagging Jen. In return, she captioned her post, “For the record… we were SO not on a break”, in reference to their on-screen romance.
During the reunion show in May, host James Corden said it was “inconceivable” there were no off-screen romances during the show’s run from 1994 to 2004, to which David admitted, “I had a major crush on Jen,” who replied, “It was reciprocated.”
The 54-year-old actor – who shares 10-year-old daughter, Cleo, with his British ex-wife, Zoë Buckman – continued, “We were both crushing hard on each other, but it was like two ships passing. One of us was always in a relationship and we never crossed that boundary.”
Reminiscing about their iconic on-screen relationship, Jennifer, 52, added, “I remember saying one time to David, ‘It’s going to be such a bummer if the first time you and I actually kiss is on national television.’ And sure enough, it was.
“We just channelled all of our adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel.”
A year after the sitcom finished in 2004, Jen’s five-year marriage to Brad Pitt ended amid his rumoured affair with Angelina Jolie, with whom he is now embroiled in a bitter divorce battle.
Following Jen’s second divorce from Justin Theroux in 2018, fans hoped she and Brad would reunite after they were seen hugging at an awards ceremony in 2020, but she recently insisted they were just “good friends”.
Instead, she began dating an unnamed TV producer last November – but Closer revealed last month that it had ended due to his insecurities over her close relationships with her exes.
Despite David – who has dated singer and actress Natalie Imbruglia and former S Club 7 star Tina Barrett in the past – being snapped with a mystery woman, pals say his feelings for Jen have distracted him from other love interests.
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And 25 years after Ross Geller got his “lobster” – Rachel Green, whom he ended up having a baby with on the show – pals say the pair could finally act on two decades of buried feelings.
The source says, “David’s smitten with Jen and the feelings are definitely mutual.
“While there’s the obvious distance issue between them, as they live on opposite sides of the country, they are keen to keep the spark alive and make it work.”
And pals say their co-stars – Courteney Cox, 57, Lisa Kudrow, 58, Matt LeBlanc, 54, and Matthew Perry, 51 – are already joking about wedding bells.
The source adds, “Jen had to ask Courteney and Lisa to rein in their excitement after they got carried away and started talking of an engagement!
“It’s still early days and Jen’s trying not to focus too much on the future or put pressure on it, but there’s a deep affection between them with the solid base of a long-term friendship.”
Get the best celeb interviews in Closer magazine each week.