Director Ben Winston explained why the two stars were noticeably absent, telling The Wrap, "Well, we couldn’t have everybody on, because it’s only an hour and 45 minutes."
"And you’ve got to pay attention -- the main nub of the show has got to be about the six cast members,” he continued. "So you can’t have too many cameos because of course, there were hundreds of amazing people who were in Friends over the years. Sadly, we couldn’t get everybody in.”
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'Friends' Reunion: David Schwimmer Hilariously Reveals the ONE Castmate He Didn't Like Filming With
He added that they did, however, invite some people "who weren't able to make it."
"It's a complicated time to be making television now because, you know, some people couldn't fly internationally, some people were on other TV or film shoots, some people are in bubbles on stuff," Winston said, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic hindered people's schedules. "I think during a pandemic, it's really hard to get everybody where you want to be. And the other thing, of course, is we have no flexibility. It was one night that those six [main cast members] were available."
"The timing of it was incredibly difficult. So, you know, if you weren't available on the seventh of April at 8 p.m., then, sadly, they weren't able to be part of it," he said. "Yeah, we couldn't get everybody in. It's just one of those things. I hope people will think about all the great things that are in there rather than the things that aren't."
"It's been a wonderful couple of days," Perry told ET ahead of the special. "It's been very nostalgic... seeing the old set and seeing the crew. It's a very loving, tight-knit group, and when we see each other, it's a very heartwarming thing."
"I couldn't shut it off," Aniston admitted of her own emotional reaction. "I couldn't even plug it, nothing."
"It was the most emotional [day]," Cox admitted. "I had slept so well the night before, woke up, and I wasn't nervous at all, was just feeling good. And the first question, 'How do you feel?' And I just started crying."