What Pumping on the Set of ‘Friends’ Was Like for Reese Witherspoon in 1999

OK, fellow Friends fanatics—do you remember the one where Reese Witherspoon pulled double duty as an actress and working mom? While you likely recall Reese’s stint on the show as Jill, the flippant, spoiled little sister of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Reese was actually stealing scenes off camera. You see, at the time, 23-year-old Reese was adjusting to being a first-time working mom and balancing set life with the demands of breastfeeding her baby girl—the now-20-year-old Ava, whom she shares with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe.

In a new interview for Harper’s Bazaar; conducted by friend, actress and mom Natalie Portman, Reese looked back on how it amazed her Friends co-star, Jennifer Aniston, that she had a baby to care for in between scenes. “I was nursing Ava on set, and Jen just kept going, ‘You have a baby?’” Reese remembers. “I was like, ‘I know, it’s weird…I remember her being like, ‘Where are you going?’ And I was like, ‘I’m pumping!’”

A coworker’s curiosity over a new mom pumping at work is something many have experienced. Sometimes that curiosity is well-intentioned and other times it can feel overwhelming and judgemental. Fortunately, Jen was supportive of Reese taking the time she needed to pump. “She was so sweet to me,” Reese says in the interview. “I was really nervous, and she was like, ‘Oh, my gosh—don’t worry about it!’ I marveled at her ability to perform in front of a live audience like that with no nerves. They would change all the lines and she was just so effortlessly affable, bubbly and sunny. We’ve been friends ever since.”

In fact, 20 years later and Reese and Jen are still close, supportive friends and co-starring in The Morning Show on the Apple TV+ streaming service. Another thing that hasn’t changed is Reese’s ability to successfully divide her time between work and family—even though she now pulls triple mom duty with sons Deacon, 15, and Tennessee, 7, in the mix too. While Reese relishes being a busy working mom of three and wouldn’t want it any other way, she isn’t afraid to admit that finding balance doesn’t always come naturally.

“Let’s be real. Every working mother is still figuring these things out,” she explains. “But honestly, I think women who are incredibly busy are the most productive people in the world. If I ever needed something done, I would ask the busiest woman I know.”

Could Reese be any more on the money with that sentiment? We working moms—whether our jobs take us to Hollywood or the nurse’s station, to the hostess stand or the trading room floor—all have one very important thing in common. Even when things feel overwhelming and we have no idea how we’ll get it all done, from breastfeeding to deadlines, we always make it happen and make it happen well. Thank you, Reese, for the reminder!

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