The Arty Semite

Jami Gertz on 'The Neighbors'

By Curt Schleier

If it weren’t for Nicholas Ressler, Jennifer Aniston might still be waiting tables. A slight exaggeration, perhaps. But Nick’s mom is the actress Jami Gertz, who was originally offered the role of Rachel Green on “Friends.” Rachel became an iconic character on one of the grandest comedy hits in television history.

Courtesy ABC/BOB D'AMICO

“I wanted another child,” Gertz told The Arty Semite, explaining why she turned down the role. “It just wasn’t the right time. I’ve never looked back.”

Nor does she have any reason to. She’s enjoyed a long and successful career that includes film (“Twister,” “Less Than Zero,” “The Lost Boys,” among others) and television (“Square Pegs,” “Still Standing”).

Gertz was still a teenager when she landed Square Pegs; she played Muffy Tepperman, by all accounts the first character to celebrate a bat mitzvah on TV. She currently stars in “The Neighbors” as Debbie Weaver. The Weaver family moves into a gated community, only to discover that all the other residents are aliens of the outer space variety. In an effort to fit in Earth style, they have all taken the names of famous athletes. The group’s leader is Larry Bird, and his wife is Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Gertz says there are apparently no Jews on the planet, but the season is young, and there may be a Sandy Koufax or an Al Rosen in the show’s future.

Curt Schleier: What attracted you to the series?

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