No sitcom was able to take the mundane lives of characters in their late 20’s and turn them into 30 minutes of hilarious television as entertainingly as Friends.
With infamous lines still quoted by many and an absolute earworm of a theme song (and admit it, you can’t help but clap along every time), the show has become a revered classic to T.V. geeks and comedy fans everywhere. While ending its run in 2004, the series is still alive and kicking in the pop culture sphere, with hundreds of online clips and daily reruns to prove its highly beloved status to this day.
While it was always a treat to watch the adventures and mishaps of Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel – now legendary icons of television history – there were quite a handful of dramatic incidents behind closed doors that may surprise even the most avid fan.
Here are the 15 Behind The Scenes Secrets You Completely Missed.
15. The cast hated the Joey/Rachel romance
Eight seasons into the series, the writers threw the audience in a loop as they began hinting at a possible romance between Joey Tribbiani and Rachel Greene. Although the two have had flirty interactions in the past, they were always passed off as more harmlessly playful moments than glimpses into anything more.
All of that changed as the creators blatantly paired the two up at the end of season eight, with an even more surprising moment: an accidental proposal from Joey.
This had Ross and Rachel fans fuming over what seemed like an unnecessarily forced move from the creators. Turns out they weren’t alone in their sentiments– the entire cast were up in arms against Marta Kauffman and David Crane in response to the pairing, stating that it felt wrong and they weren’t comfortable in proceeding with it.
Their complaints didn’t change anything, unfortunately, as the unexpectedness of the romance was exactly why Crane wanted to add it in in the first place. Thankfully for fans, “Jachel” had as much of a future as Ross’ experimental music career, and was scrapped not long after.
14. Jennifer Aniston didn’t invite half the cast to her wedding
With a name like “Friends” the series needed to portray a close-knit group of twenty-somethings as convincingly as possible. To help with that, the iconic six decided to actually develop close friendships with one another behind-the-scenes, hanging out in dressing rooms and bonding off-set whenever possible.
Sadly, it seemed like these close connections weren’t quite enough for Jennifer Aniston to invite the entire crew to her eventual wedding with then-fiance Justin Theroux.
Reports stated that Aniston selectively chose her female co-stars to attend, though neglected to invite Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry. When asked about the lack of invitation, however, the boys stated that there was no bad blood and that they were fine with it.
If she wanted me there, I would have been there,” LeBlanc told reporters, before adding, “I think she’s happy. And that’s all I care about.”
13. Matt LeBlanc was broke and needed the role
Before landing the role of Joey Tribbiani, and winning viewers over with what is probably the most ironically used pick-up line in recent times, Matt LeBlanc admitted to having only $11 in his pocket on the day he was cast for the role.
The actor had a struggling career in the field before finally snagging the part of Joey – a grand life achievement to which he declared he owed much to his mother, Patricia. He was thankful for always being encouraged and greatly supported by his mother in the pursuit of his Hollywood dreams, despite not having much financially.
However, he did acknowledge a point in his pre-Friends career in which Patricia became worried for his safety, as the actor once spent his days in a hotel “full of junkies and hookers” for mere place to stay. It was then that his mother began to have doubts about his acting future and decided that, sadly, it was probably time for the actor to pack it in.
12. Carol’s original actress called it quits after learning she would not be a regularly recurring role
For those who remembered Carol’s debut in season one, there were quite a few questions surrounding the sudden change of actress in the character’s subsequent episodes. It turns out that the original Carol, Anita Baritone, broke it off with the series upon realizing that her character wouldn’t be as recurring as she had initially hoped her to be.
Baritone had, in fact, auditioned for one of the main female leads, though did not land any of the three parts. Interestingly enough, the actress already had quite a repertoire of past small-screen roles – one of which was an episode on Seinfeld – much unlike Cox, Aniston, and Kudrow, before landing their big break on Friends.
Baritone was eventually replaced with Jane Sibbett, who made an appearance on the show for 15 episodes. Baritone, in contrast, had an 18-episode gig on The Jeff Foxworthy Show, and a recurrent role in The War At Home from 2005 to 2007. Though it can be argued the actress missed out on playing a character for one of television’s most iconic shows in history, however minor it might’ve been.
11. The series had a to pull an episode featuring a “bomb” joke two weeks after 9/11
When the tragic events of 9/11 took place weeks before an episode debut with airport bombs for punchlines, the writers knew they were going to need to make changes.
Scheduled to air only two weeks after the terrorist attacks – creators pulled an episode that featured Chandler cracking snarky jokes about mentioning bombs at the airport (much to the dismay of nearby security guards who then took him in for questioning).
In the scene, the ever-awkward Bing was set for his honeymoon getaway with newlywed wife Monica, before both were taken away and interrogated over his tactless remark.
“I mean isn’t that the guy we really have to worry about here? The guy with the bombs? Not the guy who jokes about his bombs. Not that I have bombs, but if I did I probably wouldn’t joke about them. I’d probably want to keep that rather quiet,” Chandler retorts.
The full scene can still be viewed by curious fans on YouTube. The airport plot line was also eventually replaced with storyline involving a jealous Monica and another newlywed pair.
10. Jennifer Aniston was initially afraid of Matt LeBlanc
In the show, LeBlanc plays the iconic ladies man we all know and love (and quote) today – the always hungry, ever-beloved Joey Tribbiani.
While a shameless, womanizing, yet hilarious character on the series, LeBlanc is actually far from his Johnny Bravo-esque counterpart – having a much more reserved, low-key personality in real life. This wasn’t the initial impression of Aniston, however, who was admittedly “scared” of the actor upon catching a glimpse of his resume.
LeBlanc’s employment history was reportedly one that looked about as “studly as a Levi’s model,” and paired with the actor’s parents being a mechanic and a circuit board maker, it made LeBlanc out to have an intimidating, macho persona.
Aniston revealed that she was initially anxious of having to work with “that type of guy,” but later on realized that LeBlanc was, in fact, a very down-to-earth co-star, adding that he’d give her comforting pep talks whenever she needed them.
9. Creators were afraid of backlash due to Carol and Susan’s wedding
Carol Willick was first introduced to the show as Ross Geller’s first ex-wife, who left the Ross-a-tron upon meeting a woman named Susan and realizing that she was a lesbian. To make things even more complicated, Carol tells Ross after their divorce that she is pregnant with his son.
Although she encourages her speechless ex-husband to be involved as much as he wants, she states that she will ultimately be raising him with Susan. Throughout the seasons, Ross maintains a platonic relationship with his ex-wife, supporting his child Ben (who was played by Riverdale‘s Cole Sprouse), and eventually Carol and Susan’s marriage in season 2.
While a delightful moment on the show for the two characters and audiences alike, the creators and NBC held their breath for what they thought would be a heated backlash of homophobic complaints deeming the content as “inappropriate.”
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman said that the moment was almost shelved altogether, but when eventually pushed for the green light, NBC proceeded to put 104 operators on, expecting a million phone calls of angry responses.
8. Courteney Cox suffered fertility issues in real life, along with miscarriages
It turns out that Courtenley Cox, the actress behind the neat-freak Monica Geller, isn’t too far from her character, and not just in the whole “neatness” aspect. According to Kauffman, Cox was reportedly known for cleaning up her other cast mates’ dressing rooms. However, Cox also shared another trait similar to her on-screen character– she struggled with infertility.
Heartbreaking as it was, the Cougar Town star was no stranger to such an issue, as she endured multiple miscarriages before finally having her daughter CoCo in 2004. The actress reveals that, while she got pregnant “pretty easily,” she had a tragically difficult time keeping them.
Cox and her ex-husband David Arquette had even considered adoption, though the actress admitted that she preferred their child to have her husband’s genes and would attempt to find a surrogate first, if need be.
7. Matt LeBlanc was so torn up about the show coming to an end that he picked up smoking again
Of course, watchers of the beloved series weren’t the only ones with broken hearts by the end of the show’s run.
LeBlanc, who had allegedly quit smoking for four years, took the habit up once again as Friends began to wrap up their final episodes. It was an undoubtedly emotional time for everyone, and according to LeBlanc’s account, they took every opportunity they could to spend time together in these final moments – even if it was just simply sitting in one another’s dressing rooms.
While the cast made a promise to always keep in touch after the show’s run, LeBlanc expressed that they all knew it wouldn’t be the same.
To “…see [each other] every day, all day. Eat lunch together every day. To have this awesome, awesome experience every week” — it was a somber thought that these were now irreplaceable memories they would never have again.
6. Aniston’s ex-fiance eventually played one of her on-screen boyfriends in the series
Imagine breaking up with a romantic partner of three years. Pretty tough, right? Now imagine having that ex-partner play your love interest on-screen, right after the painful split. A break-up is one thing, but this is a whole new level of awkward.
This hypothetical scenario was an unfortunate reality for Jennifer Aniston, who’s ex-boyfriend Tate Donovan eventually landed a role as her boyfriend Joshua on the show. Before the two parted ways, Aniston had initially requested Donovan to play Joshua on-screen, so that the actress didn’t have to get affectionate with anyone who wasn’t her boyfriend.
Unfortunately, their sweet plan turned out to be quite the mistake — as the pair called it quits right before Donovan won the part.
The actor was interviewed by the Huffington Post in 2013, to which Donovan confessed that working with Aniston in the midst of their break-up was “horrible,” even going so far as to admit that he would often head back into his dressing room to weep about the situation. Talk about rough, though Donovan did state that he was “very happy for her” in his closing remarks.
5. Matt LeBlanc admitted that “Joey” was a failure from the get-go
It’s no surprise to both LeBlanc’s and the series’ fans that the attempted spin-off Joey was an ultimate goner on the network ratings.
The show, featuring everyone’s favorite ladies’ man as the leading titular character, was slammed by critics for trying too hard to be a Friends replacement, and ultimately paling in comparison. It inevitably met its doom in 2006, and was cancelled from NBC altogether.
It seems that LeBlanc’s sentiments towards the series were closely similar to that of its disappointed viewers, as he revealed having foreseen its failure ever since it began. He commented that the writing and the jokes were “okay,” but the character’s plot lines and struggles were “not valid enough.”
He also mentioned that, unlike in Friends, Joey in his own show was more glass-half-empty than half-full, which, as one of the show’s execs (Kevin Bright) agreed, made for a more “pathetic, mopey” character.
LeBlanc added that having to carry Joey as a solo role and no longer part of an ensemble was a daunting responsibility, and recalled feeling like “an elephant sat on [his] head.”
4. Andre Agassi threw a fit of rage when Brooke Shields made a cameo
If you’ve ever termed yourself as a “jealous” partner, be glad that your insecurities weren’t publicized for the world to judge. American tennis player and then-boyfriend of actress Brooke Shields, Andre Agassi, was reportedly not-so-happy upon seeing his beau’s cameo on one of the series’ episodes.
According to reports, the tennis star was watching from the sound stage while Shields guested as Joey’s creepy stalker in a restaurant scene with LeBlanc, during which her character psychotically licks Joey’s fingers, much to his unsettled reaction.
The scene was one that was neither meant to be sexy nor seductive – “bizarrely humorous” may be a more fitting description – yet Agassi allegedly threw a fit of rage upon watching Shields, stating that she “made him look like a fool” in front of the crew and LeBlanc.
3. Matthew Perry struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and doesn’t remember filming 3 seasons
The joke-cracking Chandler Bing was loved for having that quirky, awkward personality most male fans would score on a “Which Friends Character Are You?” Buzzfeed quiz. Little do most audiences know that the actor behind the “adorkable” Bing-a-Ling had a surprisingly dark past involving alcohol and substance abuse.
According to an interview with People Magazine, Perry confessed that the habit reared its ugly head even before he was cast as a member of the show, beginning with a ski accident that took place in 1997. Upon taking prescription drugs to help with the pain, the actor admitted to feeling “better than [he] had ever felt [his] entire life” – and thus began the his dark, downwards spiral into addiction.
During his heyday on Friends, Perry clarified that, while he was never high on set, he was “painfully hungover” on many occasions. He also admitted that he doesn’t remember filming anything from seasons three to six. Eventually, the actor reached a point where he could no longer hide his struggle from those around him, entering rehab twice to get clean.
2. The show was an alleged rip-off of Queen Latifah’s sitcom Living Single
Perhaps our favorite sitcom of all time wasn’t as original as we thought. Only a year before the series began gracing our T.V. sets with Chandler’s jokes and The Rembrandts, a sitcom featuring Queen Latifah aired on the Fox network, with a strikingly similar concept and character ensemble to Kauffman and Crane’s brainchild.
Titled “Living Single,” the series also featured 20-somethings who underwent the trials and trivialities of adult life, bundled up nicely in a serving of fast-paced humour. The cast included a loveable, yet dimwitted character, a sarcastic businessman, and your staple quirky-but-adorable female. Sound familiar?
On a recent appearance in Watch What Happens Live, Latifah confirms that Friends was an overt rip-off of her show, stating that a past NBC executive – Warren Littlefield – once declared that if he could have any one show, it would be Living Single. The man then went to oversee the creation of Friends for his network. Host Andy Cohen commented on the show being an essentially “whitewashed” version of Latifah’s.
1. Salary negotiations were tough and network execs were consistently aggravated
It may no longer come as a shock to most devoted fans that each of the Friends cast members received a million dollars per episode – a salary figure that would have essentially gained each cast member a collection of mansions. Though how exactly did these numbers come to be?
In the early days of the series, the cast were actually earning about $20,000 to $40,000 an episode, a far cry from the six figures they would ultimately obtain by the end of the show’s run.
Dissatisfied with the unequal distribution in pay, the actors became the first ever television ensemble to negotiate for equal salaries, with David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow being the two heaviest influencers in this decision.
The group eventually formed a mini-union with each season, demanding for a higher pay. The numbers grew with every contract renewal, though network execs and the creators were none too happy.
Kauffman stated that their eventual six-figure salaries were “ridiculous,” and Law & Order producer Dick Wolf even stated that, had it been him in the situation, he would have ended up firing a cast member.
Are you surprised by these behind-the-scenes secrets? Let us know what you think in the comment section!
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