Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston have a long, storied history together, and apparently it didn’t start with Brad Pitt. Both of the stars auditioned for Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, long before Goop was a thing and before Rachel and Ross could even consider taking a break. In a New York Times oral history of the indie film, Linklater and casting director Judy Henderson explain that they didn’t really know who they were looking for until they saw them. “It wasn’t clear if it was going to be a European male and American female [or vice versa],” Linkater said. “In the first draft, we named the characters Chris and Terry because both are kind of genderless. It was that open.” Sometimes when casting, you kiss a lot of frogs and other times, you’re the frog in a room full of Hollywood princesses. “I kept all the Polaroids because so many of the people who auditioned are superstars today,” Henderson said. “We saw Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, before she was on Friends.” Soon after, Aniston would land her role as Rachel on Friends and GP starred in Se7en (with you-know-who) and Emma.
At the end, it came down to Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Michael Vartan (Never Been Kissed), and Sadie Frost (Bram Stoker’s Dracula). “Ethan and Julie had a chemistry that was electric and charming at the same time,” Henderson remembered. And thus began a long collaboration. Delpy and Hawke returned for Before Sunset and Before Midnight over decades. Had she gotten the part, would Gwyneth Paltrow even remember she was in the film?