As one of the most popular sitcoms of all-time, despite the fact that Friends ceased airing years ago, the show’s many fans recently expressed their outrage when Netflix almost stopped streaming it. With that in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that many of the actors that appeared on the show look back on that moment in their life as a really big deal.
Based on a myriad of different factors, people sometimes perceive similar experiences extremely differently. As a result, even though appearing on Friends should be a huge moment in the career of virtually any actor, opinions of what it meant to land a role on the show differ wildly. For instance, some actors are very open about cherishing being even a small part of Friends’ legacy while others greatly disliked an aspect of appearing on the show. With that in mind, it is time to look at this list of actors whose feelings toward their Friends roles ranged from love to hate.
In order for an actor to appear on this list, they first and foremost need to have portrayed a memorable character on the popular sitcom Friends. From there, they need to have spoken publicly about their time on the show what it meant for their life as a whole. Finally, they need to have either loved the effect appearing on Friends had one their life or disliked at least one aspect of it.
Here are 3 Actors Who Regretted Being On Friends (And 17 Who Loved It).
20 Loved It: Reese Witherspoon
During Reese Witherspoon’s illustrious career she has starred in several hit films like the Legally Blonde series, Election, and Walk the Line among others. Also memorable for her notable guest appearances on Friends, Witherspoon signed on to play Jill Green, the sister of Jennifer Aniston’s lead character Rachel.
Amazingly enough, despite Witherspoon’s long list of acclaimed credits that predated her appearance on Friends, the prospect of working in front of a live studio audience left her overcome with stage fright. Thankfully, Aniston stepped in to quell Witherspoon’s nerves and from there the pair became fast friends, which made Reese’s Friends experience a wonderful one.
19 Loved It: David Arquette
The movie that redefined the horror genre for several years, Scream played on all of the tropes that scary movie fans had come to know, which helped it become a huge hit in 1996. One of the stars of that film alongside Courteney Cox, David Arquette made his one and only appearance on Friends only a couple of months before they shared the big screen together.
Though seemingly already in love with Cox when he cameoed on Friends, in a twist of fate, Arquette was cast as a character that shared all of his scenes with Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe Buffay. However, in an interview, Cox hinted at greatly enjoying his time behind the scenes due to spending it with his future wife Courteney.
18 Loved It: Eddie Cahill
Well known for starring in all 197 episodes of CSI: NY, Eddie Cahill also played a pivotal role in the movie Miracle and had recurring roles in other shows like Under the Dome and Conviction. Despite all of those enviable credits, to a lot of people, Cahill will always be the actor that played Tag Jones, the young handsome assistant Rachel from Friends hired and dated.
Speaking about his time on the show in 2016, Cahill revealed details like Jennifer Aniston encouraging him to contribute to the process and allowing him to “have a voice on set.” If that wasn’t enough to make Cahill’s Friends experience a good one, the cast was very accommodating of his nerves, and he even forged a lasting friendship with David Schwimmer. He reports being pleased that Friends fans continue to recognize him to this day.
17 Loved It: Maggie Wheeler
Whenever fans of the show heard Maggie Wheeler’s distinctive way of saying "oh my god," they knew Janice had returned.She was one of a select few supporting Friends characters who popped up in every season. Thanks to the storyline in which she and Chandler briefly seemed genuinely happy together, Janice wasn’t only brought back several times, but even given some development.
Touched enough by her experience having a recurring Friends role that she attended the taping of the final episode, Wheeler has revealed that she and the main cast “all cried” that night. More than that, Wheeler enjoyed playing Janice so much that she thinks the character has become part of her and wished she continued to play the part in her own spin-off.
16 Regretted: Kathleen Turner
A legendary performer who deserves to be held in the same esteem as other stellar actors of her generation, Kathleen Turner may be too outspoken to be properly lionized by her peers. However, that part of her personality means that she doesn’t pull any punches when speaking about her time working on the show Friends.
Cast as Chandler’s biological father, a trans woman, Turner told Vulture that she “didn’t feel very welcomed by the cast.l” Explaining why she felt that way, Turner said she was in pain from her shoes, but “none of the actors thought to offer me a seat.” That said, she was kind enough to the stars of the show to say she thought her bad “experience with them was unique”.
15 Loved It: Bonnie Sommerville
One of those actors a lot of people may recognize even though they don’t know her name, Bonnie Sommerville has made her mark on a long list of hit TV shows over the years. Of course, included among that list is Friends, in which she played Ross’ girlfriend Mona during 8 episodes of the series.
Sharing the majority of her scenes with David Schwimmer, Sommerville has spoken especially highly of working with him when he directed an episode of Friends she appeared in. Sommerville said, “it was great working with him as a director because here’s a guy who was so experienced and knows so much of what he’s doing but he was so into my ideas and what I thought.”
14 Loved It: Lisa Kudrow
The first of Friends’ six main stars to appear on this list, it likely won’t surprise anyone that Lisa Kudrow enjoyed her 10 seasons starring on the hit show. Still, it is lovely to read a story Kudrow told about working on the show while she was pregnant that epitomizes why she looks back on that time with fondness:
“The six of us would do a huddle backstage and just say, ‘All right, have a good show, love you love you love you love you.' And when I was pregnant, then they would say, ‘Have a great show, love you love you — love you, little Julian!’ ‘Cause we knew it was a boy and that was his name.”
13 Loved It: Debra Jo Rupp
No stranger to the world of sitcoms, Debra Jo Rupp starred in 200 episodes of the beloved TV series That ‘70s Show from 1998 until 2006. Prior to that, she appeared in 6 episodes of Friends as Alice Buffay, a home economics teacher who met Phoebe’s newly half-brother in her classroom before marrying him.
Perfectly cast in the role, Rupp was originally only meant to appear in a single episode. However, the character was brought back after Lisa Kudrow became pregnant and Rupp has said she “very grateful” for that. Speaking about her experience working on Friends, Rupp has said it was interesting to see how sitcoms are “done right” and that she was “very impressed.”
12 Loved It: Lauren Tom
In retrospect, Lauren Tom’s character Julie deserved better all around. First off, Julie and Ross clearly were in a committed relationship but he broke up with her as soon as Rachel confessed she had feelings for him. On top of that, many fans disliked Julie simply because she kept Ross and Rachel from being a couple for a while.
Despite all of that, Lauren Tom was overjoyed to be a part of Friends for 7 episodes. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight about that time, Tom said: “I thought it was really incredible that they would include someone who just had a recurring part in their little tight-knit group.” On top of that, she says David Schwimmer was “a great guy” and she shared most of her scenes with him.
11 Loved It: Matthew Perry
Cast as the most sarcastic lead Friends character, Matthew Perry’s pitch-perfect delivery of Chandler’s many jokes helped make him one of the most popular parts of the show. Since Friends finished, Perry has starred in shows like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Go On among others. No matter how many other jobs he has received, Perry knows he will “never has a job like [Friends] again” even though he both starred in and developed a TV version of The Odd Couple.
Knowing full well his time on Friends is unlikely to be surpassed, Perry has said “it’s a really great job I had” and “it was amazing” in reference to starring in the series.
10 Loved It: Dakota Fanning
One of the best child actors in the history of the business, Dakota Fanning did stellar work in films like I Am Sam and Man on Fire while she was still very young. Able to turn enough heads that she landed a guest-starring role on Friends, Fanning played a sad little girl whose parents may sell their home to Monica and Chandler.
Sharing the screen with Matt LeBlanc’s Joey, Fanning’s character helped him to accept the idea that his friends may move out of the apartment across the hall from his. In a funny twist of fate, years later Fanning and LeBlanc appeared on a talk show together and she happily revealed how “starstruck” she was to even speak with him prior to shooting their scenes on Friends.
9 Regretted: Tate Donovan
Despite never really being a household name, Tate Donovan still managed to attain a great deal of success due to his part in shows like The O.C. and the Disney animated movie Hercules. Though he's been able to steer clear of the tabloids for the most part, that changed for a time in the late ‘90s when he dated Jennifer Aniston.
Though he was cast as a love interest of Aniston’s Friends character Rachel when they were still a couple, by the time Donovan began to shoot his part they had already broken up. That made the fact that the pair had to portray characters who were falling for one another so painful for Donovan when they shot their scenes. At least it wasn’t all bad, since he said the show’s stars were amazing to him.
8 Loved It: James Michael Tyler
Quite possibly the luckiest extra in the history of the acting business, James Michael Tyler appeared in 147 episodes of Friends largely because he had experience as a barista. Hired by an assistant director on the Friends crew who knew he was a trained actor that had worked in a coffee shop, Tyler wasn't originally intended to have a speaking role. However, that all changed when his character was given the name Gunther and a never-ending and unrequited crush that amused Friends fans for years.
Fully aware of how fortunate he was to be a small part of the Friends cast for so many years, Tyler has time and time again professed how grateful he is to his former bosses.
7 Loved It: Courteney Cox
Arguably the most famous Friends star when the show began, in her youth Courteney Cox appeared in a memorable Bruce Springsteen music video and the movie Masters of the Universe. Of course, these days those credits have been all but forgotten and entire generations of people will forever know her best for playing her Friends character, Monica Geller.
In fact, Cox has said that she is “thrilled” that the young people of today have discovered the show after streaming it on Netflix. Perhaps she feels that way because she loved working on Friends so much that she claimed she “would do anything to be in a room with all of those people” in reference to her Friends co-stars.
6 Loved It: Aisha Tyler
A multi-talented woman who has made a name for herself as a comedian, host, and actor, Aisha Tyler has played parts in the Santa Clause films and shows like Talk Soup and Archer among others. Also notable since she was the first black actor to appear in several episodes of Friends as a love interest for one of the main characters, Tyler was great in her role and it was about time.
Speaking about what it was like to be Friends’ first black recurring character, Aisha Tyler said: “Honestly, it was a great experience personally and creatively.” On top of that, she went on to say “it was really wonderful to just be on the show and be a love interest." Tyler also made it clear that she did not think she was hired because of her race.
5 Loved It: Paul Rudd
One of the most beloved actors in the world today, Paul Rudd has starred in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Anchorman movies, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and This Is 40. Years prior to becoming a big movie star, however, he first earned the affections of many television fans when he appeared in 18 episodes of Friends.
Cast as Mike Hannigan, the man that would go onto marry Phoebe Buffay, Rudd was charming enough for fans to love seeing him in the role. Already a longtime pal of Jennifer Aniston’s before landing his role on Friends, Rudd revealed that made his time on the show better since “there was a 20-year history, so it made working more fun.”
4 Loved It: Jennifer Aniston
Obviously, the most successful member of the core Friends cast today, Jennifer Aniston remains one of the biggest stars of film and television in the world. Even though she has earned the opportunity to work on many projects that challenge and excite her, and to turn down or take roles as she wishes, Anniston still proclaims her love for the show that made her famous.
She has referred to working on Friends as the “greatest job I ever had”, which is really saying something. If that didn’t speak loudly enough about how much she cherished starring in Friends, she also claims that she fantasizes about the series getting a reunion.
3 Loved It: Alec Baldwin
An actor who has proven to have a great degree of staying power, Alec Baldwin has been a big star for decades and has headlined a long list of movies and TV shows during his life. One of his many career highlight was appearing in 2 episodes of Friends as an overly enthusiastic romantic interest of Phoebe’s.
He was perfectly cast for the role, since Baldwin seems to be extremely passionate in real life as well. When asked about his brief time on the show he did not hold back. Especially happy to share the screen with his character’s love interest, Baldwin said “I was very grateful I had my scenes with Lisa because she is so unique, beautiful and funny, but slightly odd in a wonderful way.”
2 Regretted: David Schwimmer
To be fair, David Schwimmer has spoken highly about many aspects of starring in the show Friends. For instance, he has nothing but kind things to say about his 5 main costars, the show’s various behind the scenes staff, and even his time on set. However, he also said of fame “ 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.”
More than that, he also revealed that for a long time fame made him “want to hide under a baseball cap and not be seen” which is why he pulled back from the public eye for many years.
1 Loved It: Matt LeBlanc
At one point, the busy Matt LeBlanc was starring in Man with a Plan, Top Gear, and Episodes all at the same time. With all of that work to be done, you may think that he didn’t have time to reminisce about his most famous role from the ‘90s and 2000s, but interviews are bound to bring up a star’s greatest hits.
Thankfully, LeBlanc has nothing but good things to say about being a major part of Friends and he has even called his job on the series “the greatest gig ever.” That makes a lot of sense, since it seems like LeBlanc would have turned down starring in the Friends spin-off Joey if he did not like portraying the character he played in both shows.
Who's your favorite actor from Friends? Share your thoughts in the comments!