About twenty-five years ago, FRIENDS made its NBC debut. It changed forever the face of American sitcoms. In addition to turning its six stars, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, and Jennifer Aniston into household names, the show really helped to get Mental Floss off the ground. Here is the list of some surprising facts about the FRIENDS cast. Let’s check it out:
1. The Role Of Ross Geller Was Written For David Schwimmer
This may come as a shock because Eric McCormack made headlines when he said that he auditioned for Ross “two or three times”. However, executive producer Kevin Bright, who has worked with David Schwimmer before, wanted to work with him. So the writers were already developing Ross’s character keeping Schwimmer in mind. This made Schwimmer the first person to cast on the show.
2. Monica Was An Early Mental Floss Plan
In “The One With the Soap Opera Party” episode, Monica is shown casually reading while hanging out at Central Perk a new magazine called “Mental Floss”. We really owe David Arquette because he’s the one who made it happen. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said, “I thought it was so interesting, I gave it to Courteney for the show.”
3. Lisa Kudrow Didn’t Know How To Play The Guitar
Lisa Kudrow admitted in an interview, “I didn’t like the guitar. I wasn’t getting it. So I think I even asked, ‘What if she plays the bongos?'” However, they ended up bringing a guitar teacher which didn’t last long. Lisa learned few chords which were enough because Phoebe would only know a handful of chords anyway.
4. Many People Thought that Chandler Is A Gay
Kudrow was surprised to hear Perry’s interpretation of Chandler because she thought Chandler was supposed to be gay when she first read the script. And she wasn’t the only one. Many fans speculated about Chandler’s sexual orientation during the first few seasons of the show. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, David Crane said, “No, Chandler isn’t gay. Nor will he be gay.”
5. Matt LeBlanc Took The Magna Doodle
LeBlanc had a soft spot for the Magna Doodle. He actually took it when the series ended. The Magna Doodle found its second life in the short-lived FRIENDS spin-off, “Joey”.
6. Janice Always Popped Up With Crazy Levels Of Secrecy
Have you ever imagine getting that level of squeals on the set? In an interview with Digital Spy, Maggie said, “It was sort of a rock star moment because there will never be another show where my every entrance is a secret and a surprise. That’s very unique to the character and the way that they introduced her in all those episodes.”
She continued, “They would keep me hidden – I could barely come down to get a doughnut. I had to stay in my dressing room until the last moment and then they’d secretly move me from behind the set to the right spot and they’d keep a black screen so the audience couldn’t see me until I made my first entrance. I will never have anything like that again. It was incredible.”
7. Matt LeBlanc Spent Several Years Hiding From His FRIENDS Fame
In 2016, In an interview with the Mirror, Matt said, “For years and years, I barely left the house. I was burnt out. I wanted to not have a schedule, not be somewhere. I was in a position to do that. My agent was bummed.” He continued, “Most actors call their agents and say, ‘What’s going on?’. I’d call mine and say, ‘Please lose my number for a few years.’ It was a very dark time. I almost had a nervous breakdown.”
8. David Schwimmer Also Had trouble Dealing With His Immediate Fame
LeBlanc wasn’t the only one to struggle with the newfound fame that the show brought. During an appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast “Awards Chatter”, David said, “It was pretty jarring and it messed with my relationship to other people in a way that took years, I think, for me to adjust to and become comfortable with.”
9. Jennifer Aniston Almost Didn’t Return For The Last Season
From start to finish, Jennifer played Rachel Green in the series. She became one of the most popular characters among the rest of the gang. But what fans don’t know is that she nearly walked away from it all. Before Jennifer landed the role in FRIENDS, she had filmed six episodes of the CBS sitcom “Muddling Through”. She knew that “Muddling Through” becomes a success, she would have to leave FRIENDS. However, the station released TV movies at the exact same time the CBS show aired, due to which “Muddling Through”‘s ratings fell and the show was let go. And, Jennifer continued on as Rachel.
10. James Michael Tyler Was Working As A Barista When He Was Cast As Gunther
James Michael Tyler, the actor played Gunther at Central Perk. In an interview with BuzzFeed, James said, “I had a job at a coffee shop called The Bourgeois Pig in Hollywood, which is still around and one of the last independent coffee shops that haven’t been taken over or whatnot. I was one of their first baristas—I think I started there in 1990 or so.”
11. Gunther’s Bleached Hair Was Accidental
In an interview with BuzzFeed, James said, “I had a friend who wanted to be a hairdresser and wanted to practice bleaching someone’s hair, so I offered what hair I had left at the time. It came out white and that was the night before I was called in for the first day of shooting the first season.” Since he was hired as a background actor, it didn’t seem like a big deal. But, as we all know that later his role became a recurring one.
12. Jennifer Aniston Watches The Show As Much As You Do
There are a lot of actors who never watch any of their projects. But, Aniston isn’t one of them, not at least when it comes to FRIENDS. In an interview with The One, Aniston confessed that when it comes to TV, she can’t resist leaving the show on. She said, “I can’t help it. First of all, I’m trying to remember which episode it is. Then, half of the time I’m saying to myself, ‘I don’t remember that!’ It’s just that you can get sucked into the nostalgia of it.”
13. Bruce Willis Appeared On The Show For Free
As the father of Ross’s girlfriend Elizabeth, Bruce Willis made a guest appearance on the show. We came to know that he lost a bet to Matthew Perry and as a result, he appeared on the show as a guest. As per CBR.com, Bruce and Matthew agreed that Willis would appear on FRIENDS for free if the “Die Hard” film opened at no. 1. In an interview with Wired Bruce said, “I was on FRIENDS because I lost a bet to Matthew Perry.”
14. Rachel Was To Move In With Gunther In The Show
Creators put that idea in the box where Rachel was to move in with the unfortunate Gunther. In an interview with Metro, James Michael Tyler aka Gunther said, “They were going to have Rachel move in with Gunther. I remember reading the first draft of that script and thinking, ‘Oh man, they’re never going to make this work.” He further added, “It just didn’t read, even to me. I was not ungrateful that it didn’t work. Through no fault of Jennifer or myself or the writing, it just felt contrived…”
It felt like Jennifer was also not a fan of that storyline. James said, “I remember looking at Jen too and we didn’t think it was right. Whatever it was for, we didn’t need that story-line.” According to James, everything else happened organically. He said, “And everything else that happened in the series… was quite organic. Nothing was contrived – let’s put these two people together for no reason. Everything happened naturally and I think it’s for that reason it’s still loved to this day.”
15. Ellen DeGeneres Nearly Played Phoebe In The Show
Reportedly, the role of Phoebe Buffay was offered to Ellen DeGeneres from the famous “The Ellen Show”. According to Refinery, she turned down the role. Phoebe was originally supposed to be goth as per the revelation of the publication. However, Lisa Kudrow appeared in the show later as Phoebe Buffay.
16. Matthew Perry Struggles With Addiction During Production
Perry went to rehab in 1997 for an addiction to prescription alcohol and drugs. He again went in 2001. In an interview with People, Perry said, “I was never high at work. I was painfully hung-over. Then eventually things got so bad I couldn’t hide it and everybody knew.”
17. Cole Sprouse Had A Big Crush On Jennifer To Make It Difficult For Him
Cole Sprouse appeared on the Drew Barrymore Show and revealed that he had a huge crush on Jennifer Aniston. According to an article on Buzzfeed News, he said, “I was a child. I would stammer a lot, and I would forget my lines. I feel like I’d maintain my composure a bit more effectively now, but it was quite difficult when I was a kid.” He further continued, “I was teased a little bit by the crew because they saw it.” He then added, “I would just forget, and be looking at her. But then, the whole world had a crush on Jennifer Aniston.”
18. Joey’s Magna Doodle Became A Job For The Crew
A few crew members were responsible for drawing over the Magna Doodle for years. However, it was primarily a job for Paul Swain in the later seasons, who was the best boy on the electric crew. The Magna Doodle was one of the show’s stars. Fans became obsessed with the arts. In an interview, Swain said, “They were looking for hidden meanings being given through the Magna Doodle.”
19. Jane Sibbett Was Originally Cast As Rachel Green
Jane Sibbett, Ross’s ex-wife Carol revealed that she was offered the part of Rachel before Aniston. In an interview with news.com.au, Jane said, “I actually was up for another character. They wanted me to be one of the main six. It was actually Rachel but I usually don’t tell people that because of Jen… There’s no one who could’ve done it like Jen.”
She also revealed that she had to turn down a huge role in the show because she was pregnant. She said, “So obviously said it wouldn’t work out. But, I have no regrets, my goodness, there’s no way anybody could have come close to what Jennifer Aniston did with Rachel. She was so perfect.”
20. Hank Azaria Aka David Auditioned For Joey
When the show was in its casting stage, Hank Azaria aka David auditioned for Joey. But fortunately or unfortunately, he got rejected, twice. In 2014, he told HuffPost, “That’s the only job I ever auditioned for twice. I thought it was so good but they had rejected me once. I said, ‘I’m going back, I’m gonna do it again, I’m gonna try it again.” Finally, he landed on the role of David, who flew to Russia to be a scientist. However, his storyline with Phoebe was one of the most adorable storylines in the show.