We’ll Be There for You with Surprising Friends’ Behind-the-Scenes Secrets
So, no one told you the fanbase was gonna be this way, huh? Friends, which turned 25 last year, was named the second-most streamed show in the world by Nielsen. To appease diehard viewers, Netflix even paid WarnerMedia a staggering $100 million for an additional 12 months of rights.
The laugh-out-loud sitcom created an idealized version of what it’s like to navigate life with your best friends in your 20s — so much so that it has become a TV’s version of comfort food. Could there BE any more to say about the sitcom? Luckily, there are still some behind-the-scenes secrets that even the most passionate Friends fanatics don’t know.
It Wasn’t Always Called Friends
What’s in a name? Well, a lot, especially if your sitcom becomes one of the most beloved TV shows of all time. But before creators settled on Friends, quite a few different titles were thrown around behind the scenes.
The Episode Naming Convention Was Done for One Reason…
Upon reflection, the sitcom’s episode naming convention seems pretty brilliant. When you’re chatting with pals about TV, it’s often difficult to recall the names of episodes, making it easier to say, "Oh, it’s the one with the football," or whatever detail stands out most.
Matt LeBlanc Was Broke Before Landing the Show
Before landing his now iconic role of Joey Tribbiani, Matt LeBlanc was the epitome of the struggling actor stereotype. Living from gig to gig, LeBlanc had just $11 in his bank account when he nailed his Friends audition.
The Final Episode Proved Nightmarish for the Makeup Department
When you think of Friends, an extensive hair and makeup budget isn’t exactly something that comes to mind. Given the "mundane" nature of the show — 20-somethings navigating life in New York — the costumes weren’t exactly extravagant either.
The Cast Bonded on a Trip to Las Vegas
While the series of episodes set in Las Vegas are iconic, fans will be delighted to know that the cast enjoyed Nevada’s infamous Strip together long before those storylines came to fruition. Before shooting the pilot, director James Burrows took the six main cast members on a trip to Vegas, assuring them that this was their last chance to enjoy anonymity.
One Notable Side Character Got His Role by Chance
Known simply as Gunther, this salty, Rachel-loving barista from Central Perk quickly became a fan-favorite side character. Even the duck and the chick have nothing on James Michael Tyler’s blonde-haired, tie-wearing coffee connoisseur.
One of the Friends Almost Didn’t Return for the Final Season
Despite making $1 million dollars per episode, breakout star Jennifer Aniston almost didn’t return for the sitcom’s final season. An international star in her own right, she was landing film roles and in the middle of her tabloid-loved marriage to superstar Brad Pitt.
Matthew Perry Struggled with Addiction During Filming
Navigating newfound fame can prove difficult, but some of the Friends cast members struggled more than others. For Matthew Perry, dealing with a new way of life led to problems with addiction. Although his issues were kept under wraps at the time, he has since been pretty candid about those troubling times.
Phoebe’s Pregnancy Storyline Wasn’t Planned
Over the years, many sitcoms have worked around actors’ real-life pregnancies in interesting ways. Fellow ‘90s sitcom Seinfeld made a habit of putting large objects in front of Julie Louis-Dreyfus’ character to conceal her baby bump. When Lisa Kudrow was pregnant, Friends took a different approach.
NBC Didn’t Want the Hangout to be a Coffee Shop
Back when the show’s creators pitched Friends to NBC, it was kind of a gamble. Although TV shows about aimless 20-somethings living in New York — or a comparable city — are a dime a dozen now, this focus was entirely new at the time. Needless to say, execs gave creators quite a few notes.
Courteney Cox Was Offered a Different Role Initially
Although diehards now can’t imagine other actors stepping into one of the iconic six roles, the Friends casting process wasn’t so cut-and-dry in the beginning. Will & Grace star Eric McCormack auditioned for Ross, even though the part was allegedly written with David Schwimmer in mind.
One Big Element of the Series Finale Was Planned from the Start
Fans today still either bemoan or celebrate Rachel’s decision to get off the plane to Paris, thus sacrificing her dream career for Ross. However, the sitcom’s ultimate will-they-won’t-they couple ending up together was non-negotiable for the show’s co-creators, David Crane and Marta Kauffman.
Matt LeBlanc Badly Injured Himself on Set
Most fans will recall a third-season episode in which Joey wears a sling, something that’s explained away as an injury the character sustained while jumping on his bed. While this fits with Joey’s personality to a "T," the injury actually had real-life origins.
Lisa Kudrow Was Sued for Breach of Contract
Although Friends came to an end in 2004, Lisa Kudrow was still dealing with the aftermath in 2008. That year, she ended her contract with her longtime manager Scott Howard, so he sued her, claiming Kudrow still owed him residuals for Friends reruns.
David Schwimmer’s Neighbors Hated Him
Even celebrities who are popular the world-over have to deal with the same day-to-day troubles as us average Joes. In 2010, David Schwimmer purchased a townhouse in New York’s East Village and decided to tear down the building for a renovation.
And One Friend Was Arrested…
While some celebrities deal with the hard partying lifestyle at the height of their careers, others take that route a tad earlier. Matt LeBlanc was one of those early bloomers: He was arrested twice for drunk driving, something he kept a secret until after Friends wrapped.
Jennifer Aniston Hated “The Rachel”
If you didn’t live through the ‘90s, you’ll never understand just how popular "The Rachel" was at the time. Named after Jennifer Anniston’s iconic short, layered hairstyle, the style prompted women across the country to rush into salons, asking for the look. Despite it being popular with fans and fellow celebs alike, Aniston actually hated the cut.
David Schwimmer Struggled with Fame
Of the six main cast members, David Schwimmer has always been the least likely to enjoy the limelight. In fact, he struggled with his newfound fame — and with being so associated with his character — to the point that he has shied away from on-screen roles once Friends ended.
There Was One Thing Lisa Kudrow Refused to Do…
Ten-time Emmy nominee (and one-time winner) Lisa Kudrow is a woman of many talents. However, there is one skill she refused to pick up, despite what Phoebe’s character description called for initially.
A Lot of Suffering Went into the Now Iconic Opening Credits
The show’s title sequence is one of its most iconic features, but when it came to shooting the montage, the actors were put through the wringer. The shoot started at four in the morning, and, by Burbank, California, standards, it was a cold morning. Exhausted, Jennifer Aniston had a difficult time grasping the concept — formal wear, umbrellas, splashing in a fountain? — but all that pain and suffering and freezing paid off.
The Cast Wanted to Reject a Now Classic Plot Line
In "The One with the Cat," a feline friend emerges from Phoebe’s guitar case, causing the hapless musician to think that the cat in question is a reincarnation of her late mother. Sure, Phoebe has had her fair share of weird plot lines, but for the cast and writers, this one felt a little too weird.
Jennifer Aniston Didn’t Invite Her Castmates to Her Wedding
When she married Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston cordially sent wedding invitations to her Friends co-stars. However, despite still being close off screen, the guys didn’t quite make the cut when it came to Aniston’s marriage to Justin Theroux in 2015.
The Show Didn’t Fare Too Well at the Emmys
Despite having six top-billed actors and legions of fans, Friends didn’t fare all that well when it came to awards season. After a decade on the air — and hordes of extremely zealous fans — the show walked away with just four Emmy wins, one for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2002, one for Directing in a Comedy Series in 1996 and two for acting.
Co-Creators Wanted to Pair an Unlikely Couple Together...
Although Ross and Rachel ended up being the show’s central pairing, producers initially had another power couple in mind. According to co-creator Marta Kauffman, they had intended to have Monica and Joey get together because "they just seemed the most sexual of the characters."
The Cast Was Afraid of One of Their Co-Stars at First
While Joey is a lovable, teddy bear-like guy, Matt LeBlanc’s castmates didn’t see him that way in the beginning. In fact, they were a little intimidated by him. Reportedly, LeBlanc’s past — a stint as a model and being raised by a rough-and-tough mechanic — made the other actors a bit wary.
An Airport Scene Was Cut After 9/11
Even on her honeymoon, Monica is the Type-A, slightly pushy character we all know and love. During the episode, she and Chandler end up competing with another couple, who seem to be just one step ahead of the Geller-Bings the whole trip. Although the storyline works well, it wasn’t the initial premise.
The Cast Banded Together to Ask for Pay Raises
One of the great things about Friends? The six core characters all received equal billing throughout the run of the show. In fact, the writers initially had a pie chart taped to the wall so they could even out the number of lines and jokes for each character.
Matthew Perry Almost Went with a Different Pilot
At the time, David Schwimmer, an L.A. Law alum who had just ended a run on a short-lived show called Monty, and Courteney Cox, who was known for Family Ties and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, were the most well known of the six friends. However, it was Matthew Perry who became a hot commodity during pilot season.
Two of the Six Friends Were Almost Supporting Characters
While the cast ended up getting equal billing — and equal pay — the show wasn’t always conceived as having six starring roles. In fact, co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane had wanted the story to focus on four of the friends: Rachel, Ross, Monica and Joey. (This probably explains their early, misguided desire to pair Monica with Joey.)
The Iconic Frame on the Door Was an Ad Hoc Decision
The apartment that Monica inherits is iconic for so many reasons. Not only is it the dream New York apartment — there’s so much closet space! — but since so many of the Friends live there at some point and continue to drop in often, it’s chock full of memories. Purple paint aside, the most memorable feature of the apartment is that yellow picture frame hanging over the door’s peephole.