When Friends first aired in 1994, no one knew quite how huge it would become; it was just another sitcom, but it became the biggest sitcom of the ‘90s, and is still attracting new fans today thanks to its addition to Netflix.
The crazy lives of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courtney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Ross (David Schwimmer), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) were such a smash hit that they propelled the cast to the heights of fame and earned them up to one million dollars per episode in the final seasons.
Friends fans might think that by now, they know everything there is to know about the show. They know what Chandler did for a living (not a transponster) and how his mail was addressed (to Miss Chanandler Bong). They know who Rachel dated (throughout her on-again, off-again relationship with Ross), how Monica organizes her photos, and how much, exactly, Joey owes Chandler after all these years.
You may know all these plot points, but do you know all the secrets from behind the scenes too? Quite a few secrets about the cast have been revealed in the years since the show first aired, from addictions and pet peeves, to plot points, deleted scenes and on-set injuries. How many of these behind-the-scenes secrets about Friends did you already know?
Here are the 15 Secrets Behind Friends You Had No Idea About.
15. Jennifer Aniston Nearly Quit The Show
Aniston was the last to sign for the final, tenth season of Friends, and very nearly didn’t return at all. Part of this was down to her busy career– at this point, she was definitely the most “famous” of the Friends (although they were obviously all extremely well known), and had several movies on the slate.
She also later revealed that she was debating not coming back because “I had a couple issues that I was dealing with. I wanted it to end when people still loved us and we were on a high. And then I was also feeling like, ‘How much more of Rachel do I have in me?’”
14. Matthew Perry Struggled With Addiction During Filming
Many of the Friends cast struggled to deal with their newfound fame, and for Matthew Perry, this led to problems with addiction.
The actor has been candid about the fact that he spent much of the time between seasons 3 and 6 in the grips of serious addiction to both alcohol and pills, although Perry has also said that his issues with alcohol began in the years before he was cast on the show.
Although Perry does say that he was never drunk on set, he admits to being “painfully hungover” to the point that everyone became aware of his issues. After more than one stint in rehab, the star got clean, and he opened up about his issues and became passionate about helping others who were struggling.
13. Lisa Kudrow Was Sued For Breach Of Contract
Lisa Kudrow’s manager, Scott Howard, sued her in 2008, the year after she ended her contract with him, and four years after Friends ended. Howard claimed that Kudrow owed him residuals for reruns of Friends and other projects that she had worked on while under his management, to the tune of 10% of everything she got.
Kudrow had stopped paying him when the contract was dissolved, and argued that the 10% was only payable when he was managing her. Howard eventually won the case in 2014, with the judge awarding her ex manager 1.6 million dollars.
12. David Schwimmer Struggled With Fame
David Schwimmer also struggled with the fame that came from being in such a huge hit at such a young age. Of the six main actors in Friends, Schwimmer is the one who has shied away from the limelight most.
Although he continued to work after the show ended, he spent many years preferring to do voice work, directing and producing, and has been candid about struggling to find a way to continue acting as such a huge celebrity.
“It was pretty jarring and it messed with my relationship to other people in a way that took years, I think, for me to kind of adjust to and become comfortable with,” he said. “It made me want to hide under a baseball cap, not be seen. So I was trying to figure out: how do I be an actor in this new world, in this new situation?”
11. Phoebe Can’t Play Guitar Because Lisa Kudrow Refused To Learn
Everyone knows that for a guitar player, Phoebe is actually pretty terrible. Not only does she only know a few cords, but she doesn’t even know the names of them.
However, she was originally going to be a good musician, but Lisa Kudrow hated playing the guitar and refused to learn. Friends even brought in a guitar tutor for Kudrow, but it just didn’t last.
Kudrow says that she even suggested another instrument for her character to play– a slightly easier one. “I didn’t like the guitar,” he stated. “I wasn’t getting it. I think I even asked ‘what if she plays the bongos?’”
10. Matt LeBlanc Badly Injured Himself On Set
In ‘The One Where No-One’s Ready”, Joey and Chandler get into a (hilariously) ridiculous feud over a spot on one of Monica’s chairs, and end up both rushing to sit in it at the same time.
It’s a silly moment, but it’s one that actually ended up seriously injuring Matt LeBlanc. As he explained on Jimmy Kimmel; “So we both race to the chair, and I have to step over the coffee table and land on this big, huge comfortable chair. I ended up completely upside down. I was going to land on my head between the table and the chair, so I put my arm up to break my fall and exploded my shoulder.”
9. Matt LeBlanc Was Arrested For Drunk Driving…
Before he became famous, Matt LeBlanc was already getting used to that crazy party lifestyle that most people associate with being a celebrity. After Friends was finished, LeBlanc admitted that he was arrested for drunk driving… twice.
“When I was young and stupid. I wasn’t driving fast, just crooked,” he said. This came up when the star was cast as one of the hosts of the new Top Gear (after the very public firing of Jeremy Clarkson)– and fans weren’t sure whether a predilection for reckless driving was a boon or a hindrance when it comes to presenting a show about having fun with cars.
8. …And Nearly Had A Nervous Breakdown
While his drunk driving record happened before fame and fortune came to the star, LeBlanc (like many of his co-stars) also got into some dark times when it came to dealing with his newfound fame.
The star nearly had a breakdown due to the intensity of working on Friends, especially when the show (and the failed spin-off, Joey) came to an end. Of that time, LeBlanc has said “For years and years, I barely left the house. I was burnt out. I wanted to not have a schedule, not be somewhere.”
He continued: “I was in a position to do that. My agent was bummed. 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.”
7. Jennifer Aniston Didn’t Invite Her Castmates To Her Wedding
While not every cast is close off-screen, the cast of Friends was known for being… well, friendly.
As well as having a huddle before each episode started filming, and negotiating their salaries as a team, the cast were often snapped out and about together, and talked in interviews about how close they remained, even after filming ended. Jennifer Aniston is even godmother to Courtney Cox’s daughter.
However, in 2015, when Aniston married Justin Theroux, she didn’t invite any of her male co-stars to the ceremony. It was a small wedding of only 70 guests, but that included Cox and Kudrow. Matthew Perry said that he was “surprised” that he wasn’t invited, but very happy for the couple, despite the snub.
6. David Schwimmer’s Neighbors Hated Him
Even stars have feuds with their neighbors, and David Schwimmer is no exception. In 2010, the star bought a property in the East Village, a townhouse from 1852 (and the land it stood on, of course).
However, Schwimmer decided that rather than renovate it to keep the facade, he would just tear the whole thing down and start fresh. It’s something that a lot of property developers are known for doing, but it’s rarely a popular decision.
As a result, an anonymous neighbor left a message for the star. Spray painted in huge letters on the construction site fence were the words “Ross Is Not Cool.” This hilariously echoed a storyline from the show, where Ross moves into a new building and becomes enemies with the neighbors by not chipping in for the maintenance man’s retirement gift.
5. An Airport Scene Was Cut After 9/11
When Monica and Chandler went on their honeymoon, they ended up competing with another newlywed couple who was ahead of them in every lineup. It was a cute storyline that suited their characters, but it wasn’t the original one intended for the episode.
The first scenes shot included the two getting bumped up to first class, but then getting pulled aside by airport security when Chandler makes a joke about a bomb. It dovetailed nicely into another storyline about Joey and Phoebe being locked out of the apartment, as well.
However, the episode was set to air two weeks after the events of 9/11, so the network made the (obvious) choice to re-shoot, although they later released the original scenes to be viewed “in the spirit in which they were originally intended.”
4. The Cast Wanted To Reject The Reincarnated Mom Story
Another awkward storyline that did make it onto the small screen was in ‘The One With The Cat”. This episode involved a cat jumping into Phoebe’s guitar case, with Pheobe deciding that it was actually the reincarnated form of her mother.
Even for Phoebe, this one got a little weird, and allegedly, the rest of the cast and writers weren’t keen on including it. However, it is rumored that the story idea was pitched by writer Marta Kauffman after the passing of her own mother, and none of the others felt comfortable shooting it down as a result.
3. Chandler’s Awkwardness Is Based On Matthew Perry
It’s been said more than once that each of the Friends characters bears more than a little resemblance to the actor who plays them– Rachel’s style, Monica’s drive, Joey’s womanizing.
However, Chandler was actually based on Matthew Perry– or at least some elements of his personality were. His awkwardness with women came from a conversation that Perry had with the producers about his own life, and even his distinctive emphasis on the word “be” (could he be any more famous for that?) was based on how Perry naturally spoke in real life.
2. The Rest Of The Cast Was Afraid Of Matt LeBlanc
Joey is far from a scary guy, but when Matt LeBlanc was first cast in the role, some of the other cast members were a little bit afraid of him.
This fear was based off of what they knew of LeBlanc himself (that he was raised by a mechanic and had done a stint as a male model) as well as what they knew about the character of Joey, who was known as a very forward womanizer.
Aniston in particular remembers being intimidated before she met LeBlanc himself. “I was scared of that type of guy. He thinks it’s very funny now. And actually, he can sit down and comfort me just like Courtney or Lisa could,” she said.
1. Jennifer Aniston Hated The ‘Rachel’
For those who didn’t live through the ‘90s, the “Rachel’” was the name for Rachel’s iconic short layered hairstyle… which needed a name, because half the women watching the show immediately rushed out and asked their hairstylists to recreate it for them.
The layered style of Rachel Green’s hair became so popular that even celebrities and supermodels were getting that signature shag. However, the one person who hated the “Rachel” was actually Rachel herself.
Jennifer Aniston has that the haircut “was kind of cringe-y for me.” She also stated that “that was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen.” We guess she was just willing to wear it for her shot at the big time.
Can you think of any other dark secrets about Friends? Sound off in the comment section!
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