Aisha Tyler Says She Was 'Petrified' to Join 'Friends' Ahead of 20-Year Anniversary of Her Role (Exclusive)

Aisha Tyler
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The actress' 20-year anniversary of her 'Friends' role is fast approaching.

Aisha Tyler is opening up about her time on Friends. While speaking with ET's Nischelle Turner, the 52-year-old actress shared how she was "petrified" to play Charlie on the beloved sitcom, just ahead of her 20-year anniversary of appearing on the show.

"The cast was incredibly kind, incredibly welcoming," Tyler remembers of series stars Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc. "My knees were knocking. I was shocked you couldn't hear my teeth chattering the entire time I was on set."

"We walked out and we did a curtain call [where] everybody [does a] bow to the audience at the end of the show. As we're backstage, Matthew Perry just leans in and goes, 'Get ready for your life to change,'" she adds. "It was a really sweet, kind thing to say to someone who's just petrified and just trying not to pee on herself a little bit from fear."

Tyler noted that Perry "was right" in his assessment, as Friends "was the biggest show on television when I got that job."

"Sometimes you don't really know what a job is going to do, how it's going to change your life. You don't know if it's going to be a hit. You don't even know if it's going to be good. You're just there to do your best work," she says. "But I knew when I got Friends that it was a big deal."

Ahead of her audition, Tyler "had seen every episode" of the series, and considered herself a fan.

"I walked onto that set and I remember I looked out the window to see if I could see, you know, the naked guy across the street," she jokes of the show's Ugly Naked Guy. "Fortunately, it's just a hallway back there."

Being a fan of the series also made Tyler feel like she "knew how to tell a Friends joke."

"The show had a tempo. It had a way of kind of turning things on their head and emphasizing words in different ways... [than] you would in normal conversation," Tyler explains. "'... They just had a way with word play and a way with them with delivering lines. It just felt unique to the show. I was a fan. I felt like I could do a Friends joke."

As for her favorite line on the series, Tyler recalls, "I literally yelled at somebody in the car the other day, 'We're on a break!'"

"It was a massive show, a global hit," Tyler reflects. "To this day, people come up to me and go, 'Charlie, Charlie,' or they just go, 'Black girl from Friends.'"

Twenty years later, Tyler is putting her energy into a new role, Jules, on Apple TV+'s The Last Thing He Told Me. The show, which is produced by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine, stars Jennifer Garner as Hannah, a woman who tries to discover her husband's (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) secrets after he goes missing, with the help of her journalist pal (Tyler).

"It's such a great piece of source material," Tyler says of Laura Dave's novel of the same name. "... It was such a smash hit, the novel, [that] they saw that there was a way to expand this world, to make it bigger, and deeper and to give these characters this complexity."

"They got to expand this world. They got to expand the characters. Jules is much more of [a character] on the show than in the book. That was a real delight to play and to build this character from scratch," she adds. "In fact, over the course of shooting the show, they wrote even more for me to do than originally planned, which was awesome."

The Last Thing He Told Me will premiere April 14 on Apple TV+. Tune in to Tuesday's episode of Entertainment Tonight for more of ET's interview with Tyler.