‘Friends: The Reunion’ director and producer Ben Winston on capturing ‘gut punch of emotion’ when the actors saw each other again [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“I definitely felt pressure on hitting all of the different elements of what people love about that show,” says Ben Winston about producing and directing “Friends: The Reunion.” Naturally there’s a lot riding on a special reflecting on a series “that was so beloved, that is such a part of our either childhood or teenagehood or adulthood, a show that’s so loved around the world.” We talked with Winston as part of our “Meet the Experts” TV showrunners panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

“The one thing I really wanted to do is make it really multifaceted,” Winston explains about deciding the format for the 100-minute special. “It’s part documentary, it’s part a film about six people who went through something crazy in their lives 27 years ago, and then revisiting a place that changed their life.” And it was even more emotional because “Friends” cast members Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer “have only been together in a room once in 17 years.”

It was important to Winston that “they wouldn’t see each other before we started shooting, so that the first time they were actually together as a six, it would be on camera.” Unfortunately, the actors’ trailers ended up right next to each other, so it took extra effort and coaxing to keep them apart before the cameras rolled. “They thought that was hilarious and used it as a great opportunity to wind me up about how much time they were spending together.”

The actors doubted whether it was really such a big deal to see each other before the shoot, “but then when you see the film and that gut punch of emotion that swelled over all of them when they walked into that room, I’m not sure we would have got that moment if we hadn’t have kept them apart … It was a genuinely, very moving moment for all of them.”

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