If NBC made a list of all the famous stars they got to appear on Friends, it would read like the who’s who of A-list Hollywood celebrities. Viewers typically remember the celebs like Tom Selleck, Paul Rudd, and Giovanni Ribisi for their recurring roles throughout the show.
But there are others who only made an appearance in an episode or two. While their time on the show was brief, their talent and star prowess made the episodes they appeared in some of the best of the entire series. Here are the 15 Stars You Forgot Appeared on Friends.
15 Julia Roberts, The One After the Super Bowl Part II, (Season 2, Episode 13)
Part I and II of episode 13 aired immediately after Super Bowl XXX in 1996. NBC knew that in order to keep viewers watching after the biggest sporting event of the year, they were going have to make it special. And so what did they do? Nailed down some big A-list celebrities, including Brooke Shields, Jean Claude Van Damn and Julia Roberts, and marketed the hell out of the episode. The efforts paid off, as the episode goes down as having the highest viewer ratings in Friends history.
Of all of celeb appearances in the episode, Julia Roberts is arguably the most memorable because of her plans of sweet revenge for Chandler (Matthew Perry). Julia played Susie Moss, one of Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) former schoolmates, who (thanks to Chandler) was known as “Susie Underpants” for most of her childhood. This is because during a school play, Chandler lifted her skirt up, exposing her underwear to the audience and classmates. Susie pretends to be interested in Chandler, and before their dinner date, convinces him to wear to her underwear.
During dinner, they sneak into the men’s bathroom, as Chandler thinks he's gonna get lucky. Susie tells Chandler to take everything off but the panties. When he does, Susie takes all of his clothes, leaving Chandler in the stall wearing nothing but her underwear. Payback at its finest!
14 Winona Ryder, The One with Rachel’s Big Kiss (Season 7 Episode 20)
It was the same year as her notorious shoplifting arrest when Winona Ryder appeared on Friends as Rachel’s (Jennifer Anniston) former sorority sister Melissa Warburton. The episode is one of the most popular of the show, as it features some memorable girl-on-girl action.
After bumping into Melissa at The Central Perk, Rachel reveals that during senior year the two made out after getting drunk on sangria. Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) doesn’t believe her, so Rachel invites Phoebe to dinner where Melissa can confirm what happened. Unfortunately for Rachel, Melissa says she doesn’t remember that ever happening. This confirms Phoebe’s belief that Rachel is “too vanilla” to ever do something like that.
To prove Phoebe wrong, Rachel kisses Melissa outside of the restaurant. Melissa then reveals that she remembers the first kiss and has been in love with Rachel for the past seven years. When Rachel doesn’t reciprocate the feelings, Melissa leaves embarrassed. Phoebe then kisses Rachel to see “what all the fuss is about.” Phoebe burns Rachel by proclaiming, “I’ve had better.”
13 Danny DeVito, The One Where the Stripper Cries (Season 10, Episode 11)
Monica and Rachel plan to throw Phoebe a sophisticated bachelorette party, but unbeknownst to them, Phoebe really wants a typical wild and raunchy girl’s night out. To rectify their mistake, Rachel and Monica quickly go through the phone book to find a stripper.
The girls are excited when the stripper arrives. But when they open the door, they see Danny DeVito, i.e. “Officer Goodbody,” who is out of breath from walking up the stairs to Monica’s apartment. Obviously, the irony of the name is because DeVito is a far cry from what mainstream media typically classifies as a “good body.” But viewers have to give DeVito props for committing to his stripper routine, shaking his ass and trying to be sexy ripping his shirt open. “Goodbody” sees Phoebe cringe during the routine and starts crying after she calls him old. The ladies are left consoling him for the remainder of the episode.
12 Brad Pitt, The One with the Rumor (Season 8, Episode 9)
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the “it” couple of the early 2000s, so it was a great thrill for fans when Pitt made his guest appearance on Friends. But it was a twist for viewers when it’s revealed that Pitt’s character, Will Colbert, hates Aniston’s character Rachel because of how she treated him in high school.
Monica (Courtney Cox) invites Will to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. He is excited to see Monica and Ross (David Schwimmer), but he is nasty to Rachel throughout the course of dinner. Rachel reaches her wit's end and demands to know why Will is being so nasty to her. Will reminds her how horrible she was to him, and tells her that he was part of the “I Hate Rachel Green” club (the other founder was Ross).
Will admits that he started a rumor that Rachel was a hermaphrodite. Rachel then admits that she started a rumor that Ross made out with the 50-year-old school librarian, which ends up being true. Everyone gets mad at Will for his hostility, except for Phoebe who takes the opportunity to give him a long hug. Female viewers couldn’t be mad at her for taking his side – it’s freaking Brad Pitt after all.
11 Jason Alexander, The One Where Rosita Dies (Season 7, Episode 13)
There’s often a debate as to whether Friends or Seinfeld was the greatest sitcom of the 90s. So it was a pleasant surprise when Jason Alexander, who played George Constanza on Seinfeld, made a cameo appearance on Friends.
In the episode, Phoebe gets a job as a telephone operator selling computer toner to pick up some extra cash. On her first day, she calls supply manager Earl (Alexander) who is depressive and says he doesn’t need any toner because he is going to kill himself. Earl explains that he is has been at the same meaningless dead end job for 10 years and no one knows he exists. To prove that no one cares about him, Earl announces to the office that he is going to kill himself and no one even blinks an eye.
It’s up to Phoebe to talk Earl down and convince him not to kill himself - no pressure!
10 Robin Williams/ Billy Crystal, The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion (Season 3, Episode 24)
At the beginning of this episode, the gang is hanging out in their usual spot – The Central Perk. Monica is about to tell them a story, when Billy Crystal and Robin Williams appear, asking the gang to scoot over, so they can also sit on the couch. Not only was their cameo shocking and unprecedented for viewers – but it’s one of the only times in the show when outsiders are seen sitting on the gang’s couch!
Monica tries to go on with her story for a second time, but the gang gets distracted when Tomas (Williams) bursts into tears and tells Tim (Crystal) that he thinks his wife is cheating on him with her gynecologist because “he has access.” Tim confesses to Tomas that it’s actually him who is sleeping with his wife. Tomas declares that he and Tim are no longer friends and dramatically storms out of the coffee shop. Tim follows Tomas, but before he reaches the door, he turns around to give the gang an embarrassed, apologetic look.
The aftermath not only left the friends in a state of shock – Monica can’t even remember what she was going to say – but it left viewers thinking, “WTF just happened?” in the best way possible! It’s hard to take the attention away from the main characters on Friends, but Williams and Crystal definitely stole the scene.
9 Alec Baldwin, The One in Massapequa (Season 8, Episode 18)
In this episode, Alec Baldwin plays Parker, Phoebe’s date for Ross and Monica’s parent’s 35th wedding anniversary. Alec Baldwin is memorable in the role with his over-the-top excitement for mundane things, like thinking that the Long Island Expressway is a “concrete miracle.”
Immediately, the audience gets how annoying Parker is going to be throughout the episode. Upon meeting the gang, Parker asks them each to tell him something about themselves. When Ross says there isn’t enough time because they have to get to the party, Parker laughs and states, “Classic Ross…” He then asks to touch Rachel’s pregnant stomach and talks about the precious gift of life.
The gang can't take it anymore when Parker states how lucky he feels to be in “Event Room C” because of all of the joy that must have taken place previously in the room. The gang start making fun of Parker, but Phoebe overhears them and stands by her man. Later, she realizes just how annoying Parker actually is, and says she’s going to kill him. The audience has the same sentiment.
8 Isabella Rossellini, The One with Frank Jr. (Season 3, Episode 5)
In this classic episode, the gang discusses the top five celebrities they are allowed to sleep with without their significant others getting mad. While Chandler and Rachel are quick to formulate their list, Ross doesn’t take the decision lightly – he has to start by making categories for his top women, and filtering the list down from there.
Midway through the episode, Ross decides on his top three: Elizabeth Hurley, Susan Sarandon, and Isabella Rossellini. Chandler convinces him that Rossellini, best known for her roles in Blue Velvet and Death Becomes Her, is “too international” and will never be around. Later, Ross reveals his final five picks, which he wrote down on a note card and had laminated. He ended up bumping Rossellini for Wynona Ryder.
He regrets his decision when at the end of the episode Rossellini appears in the flesh at The Central Perk. Rachel tells Ross that he has her permission to try and pick up Rossellini even though she’s not the final list – like he has any chance in hell of making that happen! As expected, hopeful Ross crashes and burns pretty quickly.
7 Brooke Shields, The One After the Super Bowl Part I (Season 2, Episode 12)
Brooke Shields makes her appearance in Part I of the “After the Super Bowl” episode. She plays Erika Ford, who is obsessed with Joey’s Days of Our Lives character Dr. Drake Ramoray. After receiving her fan mail, Joey decides to take Erika on a date at an upscale restaurant. He soon discovers that Erika is crazy and actually thinks he is his character Drake. Brooke Shields plays the psycho character to a tee. One moment she is laughing hysterically; the next, she licking Joey’s hands.
Suffice to say, Joey wants to get rid of Erika as quickly as possible. Problem is – she won’t go away. Toward the end of the episode, Erika hits the peak of lunacy when she storms in Joey’s apartment after seeing him kiss one of his costars on Days of Our Lives and demands to know why he is cheating on her. Ross knows the best way to relate to psychos is to get down to their level. He helps out Joey by telling Erika that he’s actually Dr. Ramoray’s evil twin Hans.
6 Kathleen Turner, The One with Chandler’s Dad (Season 7, Episode 22)
Kathleen Turner is perhaps the most convincing male drag queen in TV history. She plays Chandler’s estranged dad, Charles Bing, who has his own drag show in Las Vegas where he goes by “Helena Handbasket.”
In the episode, Monica is planning her and Chandler’s wedding and asks him why his father hasn’t been invited yet. Chandler reveals that he’s not inviting his dad because he embarrassed him a lot as a kid by coming to his events as different Hollywood starlets to cheer him on. Watching this episode in 2015, the audience would most likely be put off by Chandler’s treatment of his loving dad – especially when he reveals that his dad has tried to keep in contact with him over the years. But 14 years later, it’s still enjoyable to see Kathleen Turner belt out “It’s Raining Men” in full drag queen style.
5 Sean Penn, The One with the Halloween Party (Season 8, Episode 6)
Sean Penn plays humble, gentle 2nd grade science teacher Eric who is engaged to Phoebe’s manipulative twin sister Ursula. Phoebe runs into Ursula in the beginning of the episode and invites her to Monica’s Halloween party. Eric arrives in a sweater donned with the solar system. While super dorky, it’s not as bad as Chandler’s pink bunny costume or Ross’s “Spud-nik” getup, which is a cross between a potato and the Russian satellite Sputnik. Still, seeing the normally badass Sean Penn geeking out is reason enough to check out the episode.
Later, Phoebe finds out that Ursula lied to Eric about being a teacher and is serving in the Peace Corps, among other things. Dressed as Superwoman, Phoebe uses her powers of good to break up the couple by exposing Ursula’s lies to Eric. Phoebe’s super powers fail when Eric kisses her toward the end of the episode, but it just reminds him of kissing Ursula.
4 Freddie Prinze Jr., The One with the Male Nanny (Season 9, Episode 6)
In this episode, Freddie Prinze Jr. plays Sandy, a sensitive male nanny who applies to care for Ross and Rachel’s child Emma. Even though Ross is uncomfortable with Sandy, he lets Rachel hire him because of how much she adores him. Sandy starts crying with joy when he is hired. He also cries with Rachel when explaining how he proposed to his fiancé. The number of times Freddie Prinze Jr. cries would actually make for a fun drinking game.
If the crying isn’t enough, Sandy reveals that he also plays the flute and likes to hold puppet shows. Ross eventually fires Sandy, stating that the “chemistry” between them just isn’t right and that he is not comfortable with someone so sensitive. Sandy, psychoanalyzing Ross, asks why he thinks he is uncomfortable with sensitivity. After admitting that his dad was tough on him as a kid because he liked to play with dinosaurs instead of playing sports, Ross breaks down crying and leans on Sandy for support.
3 Gary Oldman, The One with Monica & Chandler’s Wedding (Season 7, Episodes 23/24)
In episode 23, part I of Monica and Chandler’s wedding, Joey is starstruck when he he is cast opposite of Richard Crosby (Gary Oldman) in a movie about World War I. Joey is less thrilled during filming when Richard constantly spits in his face as he over-enunciates his words. Joey eventually gets fed up and asks Richard what’s with the spitting. Richard explains that all good actors spit when delivering lines; when filming the next scene, Joey and Richard go toe-to-toe spitting in each other’s faces.
While Oldman is a great spitter, he is even a better drunk. In Part II, his character Richard is hammered on the set, causing Joey and him to have to re-film the same scene over and over again. Joey is supposed to be officiating Monica and Ross’s wedding, so he freaks out about the prospect of being late or missing it altogether. Joey walks into Richard’s dressing room, where he’s trying to cut a steak with his prop sword, and tells Richard that all of their scenes have been shot and that he can go home for the day. Richard is too drunk to walk, so Joey puts him over his shoulder and carries him off the set.
2 Susan Sarandon, The One with Joey’s New Brain (Season 7, Episode 15)
Susan Sarandon is one of the most respected leading ladies in Hollywood, with groundbreaking roles in Thelma & Louise and Dead Man Walking. And of course, how could anyone forget her appearance on Friends as soap star Cecilia Monroe?
In the episode, Cecilia is being written out of Days of Our Lives by having her brain transplanted in Joey character’s body. Cecilia is the ultimate soap opera diva, slapping faces and throwing drinks in people’s faces better than any other soap actor. Although furious that she is being killed off, Cecilia shows Joey how to play her character, Jessica Lockart, once his character, Dr. Drake Ramoray, becomes her. One of the techniques Cecilia teaches Joey is how to kiss a costar while ensuring his face will be onscreen. Sparks fly during the kiss, and in true cougar style, Cecilia walks out of Joey’s room in the next scene in just a button-down shirt.
1 George Clooney/Noah Wyle – The One with Two Parts: Part II (Season 1, Episode 17)
After Rachel sprains her ankle by falling off the balcony trying to take down Christmas lights, Monica takes her to the hospital. Rachel doesn’t have insurance, so she poses as Monica in order to use her insurance and get treated. It’s a good decision too because Rachel is seen by ER heartthrobs George Clooney and Noah Wyle.
The docs ask Monica and Rachel on a double-date, which Monica thinks is a horrible idea because they could get in trouble for insurance fraud if the doctors find out what they did. The date goes horribly awry when Monica and Rachel, posing as each other, can’t stop talking about each other’s flaws in front of the doctors. The date goes code red when Rachel’s father calls, and Monica posing as Rachel, tells him that she had sex with one of her high school boyfriends on his bed.
Do you disagree with a celebrity on this list, or think we should have included someone else? Let us know below.
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