Friends is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time - and why wouldn’t it be, there's a lot to enjoy. It has a good script, a great cast, and hilarious jokes. The show is just "kick you in the crotch, spit on your neck fantastic."
Creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman originally pitched Friends to NBC with the simple one-liner: "This show is about six people in their 20s who hang out at this coffee house.” Before Friends aired for the first time on September 22, 1994, director James Burrows said that he “had a good feeling” about the show. "I took them [the cast] to Vegas.” Burrows said. “...I had me and six of them and I said 'This is your last shot at anonymity. Once the show comes on the air, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded.'”
He was right. Despite having ended its run over 14 years ago, Friends is still one of the most syndicated shows on TV. While there’s currently a surge of '90s reboots in the works, talk of a Friends reunion remains a moo point, so fans must turn to the internet to get their fix of their six favorite best buds.
While most fans are well-versed in important on-screen moments, like whether Joey shares food and all eleven of Monica’s towel categories, much of what went on behind-the-scenes remains a mystery. This list sets out to change that. Do they know that we know about these behind-the-scenes photos? Maybe.
Here are the 20 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change Friends.
20 The one where they film with babies
"The One With the Cake" had a lot of fun on-screen moments. We learned a lot about Ross’s hidden talents - some can sing, some can dance, while he, apparently, can turn phallic cakes into woodland creatures. Off-screen, the fun moments included playing with baby Emma between takes.
Emma was actually played by twins Noelle and Cami Sheldon.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to be a baby on the set of a hit series, the twins' mom had this to say: "Everyone was really, really nice to Noelle and Cali, and treated them like little princesses on the set. [Friends] filmed before a live audience, and Cali and Noelle would come out, and they would be waving and engaging with the live audience. It was a lot of fun."
19 The one where Gunther shares a snack with an extra
Gunther was not originally supposed to have any lines on Friends. The actor who plays Gunther, James Michael Tyler, was originally cast as a background extra. However, Tyler was upgraded to a recurring role after the first few episodes because he was the only extra who knew how to work an espresso machine. Despite his rise to fame, James Michael Tyler still hung out and fooled around behind the scenes with the other extras.
What many fans don't know about Tyler is that his hair wasn’t dyed for the part. According to him, it was just "a happy coincidence." "I have a friend who wanted to practice on my head because they wanted to be a stylist, so I offered what hair I had left to turn white. It definitely completed the character,” he said. However, the upkeep was brutal. Tyler had to bleach his hair every week for ten years.
18 The one where the girls are nervous about Joey
The show was as funny behind-the-scenes as it was on-screen. The cast was a true ensemble, and they often bounced ideas off of each other and found time to make each other laugh. However, the actors also had some preconceived notions about each other before they actually met.
Some of the female cast has said that they were nervous about working with Matt LeBlanc. All they knew about him was that he was a Levis model from Newton, MA whose father was a mechanic. “I was scared of that type of guy,” said Jennifer Aniston. However, once they all met, those notions flew out the purple door. “He thinks it’s very funny now. And actually, he can sit down and comfort me just like Courteney or Lisa could.”
17 The one where Ross and Rachel study their lines
Ross and Rachel’s relationship was a central storyline in Friends, and even though Ross mentions in the final season that “they haven’t been a couple in 6 years,” it never really felt that way. On-screen, their chemistry drove the show, and off-screen, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer worked hard to make sure that this was the case.
The photo above shows the actors rehearsing a scene for season 10 episode 16 “The One With Rachel’s Going Away Party”.
James Burrows, the show’s director, once explained why the duo had to break up in season 3: "It’s the same as Sam and Diane [from Cheers]. They flirted for a lot longer, but you have to shake it up.… If you don’t fight, and if you don’t get angry, you have no place to go.”
16 The one where the gang fools around
The Friends cast was tight both on-screen and behind the scenes. They felt that they had to be in order to make the show work. "I think it was unspoken but we instinctively felt like we need to be friends, we need get along, we need to connect,” Lisa Kudrow said. "We spent 10 years together, almost every day... we all went through something significant together, and that's a strong bond. As you get older, you realize, oh, you don't have that with just about everybody."
When this photo was taken in 1994 during the first season of Friends, Matt LeBlanc stated "We're a really tight ensemble, we get along really well. It's just a real productive environment and a great time."
15 The one where they thank the live studio audience
This photo shows the gang entering the studio and clapping for their live audience for (almost) the last time. This was part of the pre-show entrance for season 10 episode 17 "The Last One: Part 1". While each Friends episode was only about 22 minutes long, a typical episode took roughly 5 hours to shoot. There were multiple takes of each scene and at least 20 minutes of set changes during each episode.
The live studio audience was an integral part of Friends and many '90s sitcoms. The audience was there to build excitement, but also as a way to test the jokes before they went to air. The only things not shot in front of a live audience were certain plot surprises or season cliffhangers.
14 The one where Christina Applegate guest stars
Friends had many famous guest stars throughout its ten seasons, including Brad Pitt, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, and John Stamos, just to name a few. Pictured above is a behind-the-scenes look at Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, guest star Christina Applegate as Amy Green, and Friends creator David Crane giving the two actors notes.
It’s rumored that Christina Applegate was only asked to appear in Friends due to a scheduling conflict with Reese Witherspoon. The episodes that Applegate appeared in were supposed to feature Rachel’s sister Jill (played by Witherspoon). However, she was unavailable, so the writers brought Rachel’s second sister into the picture. It’s a good that thing they did. Christina Applegate ended up winning an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Amy in “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister”.
13 The one where Joey & Rachel are adorable
While Jennifer Anniston and Matt Le Blanc had a great relationship on and offscreen, things got a bit more complicated when it came to the relationship between their characters.
Many fans disliked the couple, and as it turns out, several cast members voiced their aversions as well.
"It felt wildly inappropriate," Matt LeBlanc stated. "Everybody got super-defensive about the whole thing. We went to David and Marta as a group and said, 'We're really concerned about this. It doesn't feel right. We have a problem with it.'" In 2017, Jennifer Aniston said: "I just don't think Joey and Rachel could have made it. I think it was more physical than emotional with them." Even though Joey/Rachel didn’t happen, at least this adorable behind-the-scenes photo did.
12 The one with Phoebe and Chandler rehearsing
When the script for Friends was first written, it only focused on four friends. Phoebe Buffay and Chandler Bing were originally only going to be supporting characters who appeared in a few episodes. Phoebe's character was also originally written to be goth. It’s hard to imagine the group dynamic if either of these original ideas had come to be.
This behind-the-scenes photo shows off Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry as we know and love them - two main Friends cast members sharing a laugh between scenes. "I find myself sort of reminiscing about how much fun the show was, and the hours that we worked," said Perry. "You know, you can see how much we laughed and everything"
11 The one with Ross directing
David Schwimmer was the very first actor cast in Friends. In fact, the writers created the role with him in mind, so he was invited to join the cast without an audition. When Schwimmer was contacted about being Ross on Friends, he almost turned it down. He had given up on testing for TV shows and was working on starting a theater company in Chicago.
“It was hugely flattering, and I thought, well, it's quite disrespectful with all this talent asking to meet and just consider it. I'd be an idiot not to go,” Schwimmer said. Schwimmer is pictured above with the Friends writers, going over jokes for an upcoming scene. He starred as Ross Gellar (occupation: dinosaurs) for ten seasons and also directed ten episodes of the series.
10 The one with Chandler & Rachel laughing between takes
Pictured above are Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry sharing a close moment together during rehearsal. While the cast often talks about all of the fun that they had on set, they also faced some hardships. Perry went through arguably the most change out of any of the cast members. He battled substance and alcohol addiction while shooting Friends. Because of this, he was admitted to rehab twice during filming. “[I] can’t remember 3 years of shooting,” he said.
However, Perry was able to overcome his addictions. He then made it his mission to help other addicts and transformed his former home in Malibu, California into a sober living home for men called the Perry House. Perry was also honored with the Champion of Recovery award from the White House.
9 The one where Joey and Phoebe have all the chemistry
This photo was taken behind-the-scenes of "The One With The Cake", an episode centered around Emma’s first birthday.
Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow loved laughing together offscreen and were great at making audiences laugh on-screen.
Their chemistry begged the question: why didn’t Joey and Phoebe ever get together? According to LeBlanc, “Towards the end, we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been [sleeping together casually] the entire time.” They wanted to go back and shoot all of the most iconic scenes, in order to reveal that Joey and Phoebe had just been getting together, but the writers said no because it didn’t “fit the tone of the show.”
8 The one where it's all about Chandler and Monica
Chandler carries a slightly injured Monica over the apartment door threshold in "The One After Vegas". This hilarious behind-the-scenes photo was snapped at the moment right before the director yelled “cut.” Courteney Cox had been hanging off of Perry’s neck for just a bit too long, and both of them were laughing but relieved to move on to the next scene.
Friends producer and writer Scott Silveri has addressed the Monica/Chandler relationship and its impact on the series countless times. “If you didn’t have a Monica-and-Chandler relationship, if the center of Friends had remained Ross and Rachel, you would’ve seen a much shorter shelf life for the show,” Silveri said. “Without Monica and Chandler, it ends three years earlier."
7 The one with the cast huddles
This photo captures an emotional behind-the-scenes moment on Friends. The cast often huddled before each episode to wish each other luck. The photo here shows one of the very last cast huddles before the cast filmed "The Last One: Part 1".
When the final episode of Friends aired in 2004, fans weren’t the only ones grieving. The cast also had a very difficult time saying goodbye. “I don’t think we’ve ever taken more time in hair and makeup in between scenes,” Jennifer Aniston said. “...we kept crying all our makeup off, over and over again.” Things also weren't easy for David Schwimmer. “I started to lose it... that was the moment I was dreading for a long time,” he said.
6 The one where Lisa Kudrow is actually pregnant
Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox were all smiles between filming takes in “The One With All The Wedding Dresses". In this episode, Monica tries on Emily’s wedding dress and Phoebe, who wants to get-in on the fun, rents one of her own.
However, Kudrow’s real-life pregnancy meant that Phoebe had to rent her dress from a store called It's Not Too Late.
Kudrow had nothing but warm things to say about being pregnant while acting on Friends. “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!’…. so sweet, they included my little fetus in the huddle.”
5 The one with Ross and some awesome guest stars
This photo captures David Schwimmer posing with two excellent guest stars, Aisha Tyler and Greg Kinnear, during their stint on Friends. The story arc of Ross dating Charlie (Tyler) was a notable moment in the show’s history. After all, Tyler was the first black actress to become a (temporary) series regular.
“The cast was incredibly welcoming when I first joined," Tyler said. "I think they were very aware that it could be an intimidating set, and they made a special effort to be kind and open towards me... The night of my very first live performance in front of a studio audience, as the cast came together... to take a bow in front of the crowd, Matthew Perry made a point of saying to me as a quiet aside, 'Get ready for your life to change,' and it did!”
4 The one with Rachel and Joey being adorable, again
This sweet photo shows Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc striking a pose while filming season 10 episode 10 "The One Where Chandler Gets Caught". Aniston and LeBlanc were close on-screen and off, and the whole cast remains close today. “We’re lucky to actually love each other,” Aniston said of her castmates. “We’re really fortunate that there’s not a bad seed in the bunch, and yes, we were all really friends and cared about each other and had each other’s backs. We went through some really challenging times personally and were there for each other.”
It’s fun to search for moments that show off the cast’s friendship and closeness, especially unintentional moments. Another great example can be found in "The One Where Ross Dates a Student" - if you look closely, you can spot LeBlanc mouthing Aniston's line, “I love it at Joey’s!"
3 The one where Monica reads through a script
The cast used their fleeting downtime to relax, focus on the day’s work, and study their lines. This photo from the early seasons of Friends shows Courtney Cox in a rare moment of solitude reading through the script for an upcoming episode. Cox is a lot of things. She’s Monica Gellar, she’s Monana, and she’s in the prime of lime. However, she almost wasn’t.
When Cox was originally being considered for Friends, the producers wanted her to play Rachel Green. However, Cox wanted to play Monica instead. She felt that Monica was a stronger character and therefore told producers that she felt that she really understood Monica. “I thought I related more to Monica, which maybe it’s because I do," Cox said. "I’m very similar to her."
2 The one where it’s the last episode
This now-iconic photo shows the main cast bowing after the last episode of Friends. After 236 episodes, Friends came to an end on May 6th, 2004.
At this point, the cast had been through a lot together, whether it be personal struggles or negotiations.
In fact, it was David Schwimmer’s idea for the cast to form a mini-union. They decided that each one of them would be paid the same amount or they would all leave the show. Thankfully, the decision paid off big time. During the first season, the main cast earned $22,000 each per episode. In 1997, they banded together to negotiate an increase of $100,000 per episode. By the time this photo was taken, they were each earning $1,000,000 per episode. It was the first time in TV history that cast members had demanded a group negotiation.
1 The one where the iconic picture frame was installed
This photo shows the now iconic peephole picture frame being installed on set. Friends set decorator Greg Grande bought the frame from the Rose Bowl Swap Meet and originally incorporated it into the set as a normal picture holder that sat on a table.
However, Grande let audiences in on a secret about the frame during an interview in 2017. “I originally had it as a picture frame that had a back on it,” Grande said. “And while we were dressing, the glass in it broke and I told one of the guys, ‘Well let’s see what that frame looks like around the peephole.’ And they put it up there for me and that’s where it lived for the next 10 years.”
What do you think of these behind-the-scenes Friends photos? Sound off in the comments!