We Were On A Break: Interesting Trivia About The Beloved TV Show, FriendsBy Iulia P
In 1994, on September 22, a show produced by Warner Bros. was aired for the first time on NBC. From that moment, the show, named Friends, shot off and gained popularity at a rapid clip. And it reached such a level of popularity that even now, after almost 2 decades, people are still obsessed with this North American pop culture diamond. Multiple award nominations, all the awards that it won, and the spot it was given in TV Guide’s Best Shows Of All Time – all of this shows what an impact it had on the public. For those who are still obsessing over Friends, like us, we have some facts that you probably did not know about our favorite TV Show.
Right after the TV show ended, the world learned about Mathew Perry’s some of the intense struggles he went through during the time he was filming for Friends. Because he kept it quiet, not even his colleagues knew about it until later on.
Although an intervention for Perry would have been beneficial, there was an intervention for none other than Jennifer Aniston, who was always late. This is so Rachel, right? This is what happens when you get too deep into the character you play.
The advantage of being a non-English speaker who watches North American TV shows is that you not only relax and kill boredom in front of the TV like everyone else, but you will, unquestionably, learn the language too. All this without any effort.
There are many people and quite a few celebrities from overseas who admitted learning English by watching Friends. One of these celebrities is RM, the South Korean leader of boy group BTS, who called the show his personal “English teacher.” Now that’s probably the best English teacher ever!
The ugly naked guy
If you watched Friends, then you remember the ugly naked guy for sure. He was the characters’ neighbor who lived down the hall and appeared now and then in front of his window, showing himself to the cast without any clothes on.
One thing about the ugly naked guy? His identity was never revealed. And if you are still triggered about this, the way we were, we have some news for you. It turns out that the reporter Todd Van Luling found him. His name is John Haugen, and trust us; he is not ugly at all.
Breaking the rules
Apparently, there is an unwritten rule going on among actors of Hollywood in order to avoid drama on the set, and this is: never, ever rate your colleague’s performance. But this rule was completely ignored on the set of Friends.
It turns out that the main cast agreed to give honest notes about each other’s acting, also agreeing that no one will get upset if the remarks are too honest. The main reason behind their agreement was to improve their acting and so the quality of the show.
It is fair to say that Joey (Matt LeBlanc) was probably the hottest out of all the male characters. He was fit, his wardrobe was pretty trendy, he was an actor, and that perfect hair of his… the boy was on point.
Except that… he was not really that on point. Because it turns out that we were stanning his dark hair all that time, but it was not the actor’s natural hair! Instead, it was a hair salon’s piece of art. Yeah, LeBlanc’s hair was white!
You might have missed this one, and with a good reason because it was indeed very subtle (and cute). The first episode of the 6th season, which aired in 1999, was dedicated to Courtney Cox and her new husband, David Arquette.
And what other way to pay homage to the newlyweds and to Cox changing her last name other than changing the last names of the entire cast in the opening credits? Whoever came up with this was a lovable genius.
Celebrating their anonymity
It is said that if you visualize your dreams and live like they have already come true, you will attract them and eventually achieve them and then live the reality. This is exactly what happened with the cast and producers of Friends.
Before the first episode aired in 1994, the TV show’s director, James Burrows, invited the cast to Las Vegas, so they all celebrate their last moment of anonymity. The director had a feeling about his project that turned out to be true.
The contracts of the actors that were established before the show started shooting were different. The discrepancies between some of their salaries were significant. The six actors were all putting in the same amount of effort for the production, so they protested.
David Schwimmer, who was paid the most, led the protest, and eventually, all of them were paid the same. Not to mention their salaries went from $22,500 an episode to $100,000 an episode. There were 236 episodes made in total!
Do you remember when Phoebe is asked by her brother and his wife to be their surrogate, and she actually accepts? Many of us probably know she accepted because she had no other choice. It turns out that Lisa Kudrow was really pregnant.
The producers managed to rewrite the story and incorporate Kudrow’s growing belly in it too. One funny thing? Kudrow was pregnant with only one baby, but they added padding to make her look bigger to account for being pregnant with triplets.
Central Perk has become maybe one of the most known fictional bars. Wait, did we say fictional? Because what you can see in the picture below is something far from fictional. It’s a real Central Perk bar located in Beijing.
Yes, people are so obsessed with this TV show that some investors saw making it a reality very profitable. And they were right because tourists are going to Beijing only to have a coffee at Central Perk. If Beijing is too far, there is another Central Perk in Liverpool too.
The white dog
Do you remember Pat the Dog, the white dog gifted to Joey by his father when he started getting famous due to his role in Days of Our Lives? Yes, we’re talking about that ugly dog that nobody liked, especially Monica.
Even if nobody likes it, Pat the Dog somehow manages to make it till the very last episode when Monica and Chandler move to the suburbs. The truth is that Pat the Dog was actually a gift for Jennifer the first day she arrived on the set of Friends.
The mysterious Magna Doodle
Most of us most likely did not notice this, but if you re-watch the show, you will see that on the door of Chandler and Joey’s apartment, there is a doodle board that has different messages every time it is shown.
It turns out that there is a whole conspiracy going around this doodle board. A lot of fans think that the drawings on that board were meant to send secret messages, but the cast of Friends assures us that that was not the case.
Soap opera inspired
Matt LeBlanc’s character, Joey, is an actor and lands a role in a very famous soap opera, Days of Our Lives. The soap opera he plays in is ridiculed the whole time, and this is an inside joke of the producers.
We were surprised that Friends was inspired by a top-rated daytime drama called All My Children. Our favorite group borrowed their names from prominent players in that show. It’s fair to say that the producers were real soap opera fans.
All this time
Phoebe and Joey were pretty close in the sitcom. They were good friends and the only ones that did not have more than a platonic best friends relationship. We, of course, cannot say the same about Ross, Rachel, Monica, and Chandler.
Towards the end of the TV show, the two actors came up with an idea. What if their characters, all that time, were friends…but with benefits. As much as the producers loved soap operas and their predictability, they thought this would have been too predictable.
So there is no doubt that Friends was filmed with a live audience always ready to give their authentic reactions and the most contagious laughter. But did you know that the audience was not there during the filming of some cliffhangers?
When Ross got married, or when the father of Rachel’s baby was revealed, no audience was present. And according to Jen Aniston, the producers wanted it this way so no one would spoil the surprises. These aren’t laughing moments, so we didn’t miss them!
Buh-bye Central Perk
Do you remember one of the final scenes from the last season of Friends in which Ross runs to stop Rachel from moving abroad? That was a pretty impactful scene for those rooting for a happy ending to their love story.
The airport was, in fact, the Central Perk set, which was destroyed and redecorated to look like an airport. This is probably why, in the last episode, the characters did not go to Central Perk to have their usual coffee.
The cleaning obsession
The more Courtney Cox played the character of Monica Gellar, the more she realized that this character and she were simply made to be. The two are strikingly similar when it comes to a few things, one of them being neatness.
Courtney Cox is a neat freak, too, according to her castmates. She used to have the cleanest and tidiest dressing room and she would be so disturbed if one of her colleagues had any lint on their clothes that she would go ahead and clean it for them. That’s so Monica!
When Friends started to become famous, a lot of A-list actors from Hollywood asked to be a part of the cast for an episode. We have several famous supporting characters during the 10 seasons of Friends, and one of them was Bruce Willis.
Willis played the scary dad of Ross’s girlfriend, and this was not because he really wanted the role. It turns out that Willis lost a bet he made with Mathew Perry. The result of that bet? He won an Emmy award for his role.
Chandler was not gay
Yes, we agree! Chandler’s character was a bit feminine. He was more emotional, and his dad was trans. Maybe some thought that he was indeed a part of the LGBTQ community. We say some because the rest us didn’t really.
Lisa Kudrow, too, thought Chandler was gay until the very first table read when she was shocked to find out that Mathew Perry’s character was straighter than a straight line. He just has that (sometimes) nontoxic masculinity we all love.
Everybody but Monica and Phoebe
Friends aired in 1994, and back then, network TV was a lot more conservative than it is today. Not to mention that the TV show was criticized back then for the characters’ openness and their promiscuity. If it’s hard to imagine, don’t worry.
Speaking of promiscuity and “never seen before” TV moments, it is worth remembering that 4 out of the 6 main characters kissed at least once in the 10 seasons. The only two that did not were Monica and Phoebe.
Starting with a hug
This is a cool one that probably not many know. Apparently, before every episode, the cast would gather for a big group hug. This was their pre-show ritual, and we are sure we speak for you when we say that our hearts melted when we heard.
Our favorite friends were not only friends in the TV show, but outside of it too. According to the cast, their hugging ritual would help them feel like friends and deepen their friendship. No wonder the relationships looked so real.
We were stunned to find out that one of those celebs who asked for a bit part in the TV show was Justin Timberlake. The singer wanted to be part of the show so badly, but the producers couldn’t find the right role for him.
Poor guy was probably really disappointed, and honestly, we are too. Having watched him blossom into an amazing performer on both stage and screen makes us wonder: did the producers regret passing him by? Maybe they did, but he made it anyway.
Rachel and Joey
When a potential love story between Joey and Rachel was introduced to the public, most of us hated the idea. Better said, all of us hated it. We have not heard about anybody who shipped them. And guess who else did not like it?
The actors themselves. They had a big problem with this, and they even teamed up and spoke with the producers about it. They claimed that it felt inappropriate and that Rachel and Ross should find their way back together. Lucky for us, the producers listened to them.
Hidden in plain sight
If the producers incorporated Lisa Kudrow’s pregnancy into the storyline, they did not do the same with Courtney Cox’s. Instead, they managed to hide her bump for the entirety of her pregnancy with baggy clothes, obstacles, and clever camera angles.
And they did a good job with one exception. In one of the scenes, you can clearly see Courtney Cox’s growing belly. This scene was so quick, not many noticed it. Oh well, we are all human, and even award-winning producers make mistakes.
The peephole frame
Do you remember the iconic frame that hung above the peephole of Monica and Rachel’s door? How many of us copied this awesome idea? No one knows, but we now know it was a trend that lasted no more than 10 years.
And it was not even supposed to be there. The frame actually had a picture in it, and one of the staff bumped into it and broke the glass. The set director suggested hanging it on the peephole, and this is where it stayed till the very last episode.
It was meant to be a diner
Another fact you can pull out on trivia night is the famous cafe, Central Perk, was actually meant to be a diner. At first, the directors were inspired by the diner where the characters on Seinfeld used to meet up. They decided to go for a coffee shop instead.
And it was maybe the best direction they could have taken. The coffeehouse/bar was such a sensation that it’s still a place people want to go and enjoy their coffee. There are a couple of Central Perks around the world, as we’ve mentioned.
Bonding time, please!
If you watched Friends from the first episode to the very last, you must remember Marcel, the monkey Ross brought home. The two seemed to have such a good relationship, and since animals can’t really act, this had to be authentic.
David Schwimmer really liked the monkey, and he felt like he needed to bond with it to give the best performance they could give together. He complained to the directors that Marcel’s trainers were really possesive and didn’t give him much time to bond with it.
They chose Christina Applegate
Christina Appelgate, the actress from The Sweetest Thing, also made an appearance in the famous sitcom. She played the role of Rachel’s older and super spoiled sister, Amy. She was superficial and careless, and Rachel did not really like her.
Christina Applegate was chosen only because Reese Witherspoon, who played Jill, the younger sister of Rachel, was not available at the moment. Well the role earned Applegate a big, fat Emmy award. Fans also thought the casting choice was superb.
Time stood still for Ross
Time stood still for Ross and not only for this character but also for the actor, David Schwimmer. For three full seasons, the character of Ross was 29 years old. And he mentioned his age in every season as a running joke.
In those three years, the character did not age a bit and nor did the actor. It was probably a subtle joke about the fear people in their 20s have of turning 30. But it’s pretty fair to say that this little “age move” the producers made was not that noticeable.
David wanted to be Joey
At one point, Phoebe fell in love with a pretty weird scientist. His name was David, and he did not hang around long because the two had to call it quits due to David moving away. We didn’t have a lot feelings about this, but other fans probably did.
Hank Azaria, the actor who played David, auditioned first for the role of Joey. He tried out not once but twice. The casting directors were not convinced he was a good fit but kept him in mind and called him to play the role of David. We’re happy he accepted.
Ross and Rachel were not planned
When the script for Friends was in the making, David Crane and Martha Kauffman did not plan for Rachel and Ross to end up together. But due to the chemistry they had in front of the camera, the two producers ran with it.
And it’s good they did because the love story between the two is probably the best in this sitcom. Their love story goes way back. From their awkward teen years (the prom episode, anyone?!) to having a child and ending up together – it’s beautiful.
Ellen tried too
There are so many famous actors and TV personalities that auditioned for the roles of the sitcom’s main characters, and there are some that turned offers down. One of them is Ellen DeGeneres, who almost became our beloved Phoebe Buffay.
She was too busy with her own project (the sitcom named after her, Ellen). If you ask us, there was not a better actress to play Phoebe other than Lisa Kudrow. We could not imagine her played by anyone else.
Courtney Cox loved Monica
At first, Courtney Cox was called to come and audition for the role of Rachel. After reading the script, she fell in love with Monica’s character and even identified with her. So she asked to audition for that role too.
And the moment Cox started to act as Monica, the two producers were convinced that the role fits Cox like a glove and that they should start looking for their Rachel elsewhere. And they did. And everything turned up *chef’s kiss*.
They took their time
With the perfect actress for Monica’s part squared away, they needed to find Rachel. The producers kept auditioning different famous and undiscovered actresses. They took their time until they found the perfect fit. This is another character who couldn’t have been played by anyone else.
And the perfect fit was none other than Jenifer Aniston. She played in different movies prior her big role in Friends. Tea Leoni, Jane Krakowski, and Tiffani Thiessen also tried out for the role, but the producers made the best choice, hands down.
The silent Gunther
This is a fascinating fact that was noticed by someone who is probably super obsessed with the sitcom. Gunther, the eccentric waiter who worked at Central Perk, did not say a sound until the 33rd episode. But he was there all along.
As a matter of fact, the producers thought that Gunther should be silent. The actor was not even an actor, but a barista, and he was hired to make Central Perk look more authentic. His first-ever line in the sitcom was “Yeah” in the second season.
Phoebe’s guitar skill
We all laughed out loud the moment Phoebe started playing the guitar. Those moments were easily our favorites, and probably got some of the biggest laughs. And when it comes to actress Lisa Kudrow’s guitar skills, they are as good as Phoebe’s.
Lisa Kudrow hated playing the guitar. She had to take guitar lessons so she would be able to play the few chords Phoebe knew. All this happened after her failed attempts to make the producers turn Phoebe into a bongo player.
No audition for David Schwimmer
If Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Perry, LeBlanc, and Lisa Kudrow auditioned for their roles, one actor did not. And no, we are not talking about Gunther. David Schwimmer was the one cast member who never tried out. No wonder it was so perfect!
It turns out that David and the co-creator of the sitcom, Kevin Bright, worked together on another production, and Kevin liked David’s acting so much that when we wrote the script for Friends, he wrote Ross’s character specifically for David.
Janice was a secret
Janice was a secret for a while, both for the public who watched the sitcom from home, and for those who watched it from the set. Yes, the audience only saw Janice when the directors wanted them to see her.
The rest of the time, Janice was hidden in her dressing room behind a black screen. The actress who played Janice, Maggie Wheeler, remembers that it was a real mission to be so low-key on a set full of people.
Courtney Cox was the famous one
Even if nowadays the 6 stars are icons and have been household names for 20 years, back when they started filming for Friends, none of them were that well known. The exception was Courtney Cox, who appeared in a pretty famous horror movie.
But what really sparked her rise to fame was her appearance in the Bruce Springsteen music video for “Dancing in the Dark,” where she dances and plays the drums. No wonder she looked so natural when she played those drums in the opening sequence.
The two monkeys
Marcel, Ross’s exotic little pal, he was indeed one naughty monkey. In reality, he was played by not just one monkey but two. Marcel was played by Monkey (the irony, right?) and Katie, neither of whom had never appeared onscreen before.
As professional as the two animals were, it was a real mission for the directors to film with them. They would have to film several takes to different scenes, so the actors did not really enjoy filming with the pesky primates.
Did you know that Jayne Lynch almost got the audition for the role of Phoebe Buffay? After seeing 10 seasons of Phoebe, we cannot really see Lynch playing her either. However, she did appear ion the sitcom, as other celebrities did, in a bit part.
In the last season, when Chandler and Monica are looking for a house in the suburbs, the realtor that shows them around is played by none other than Jane Lynch. The episode is called ” The One in Which Estelle Dies.”
They were not comfortable
One remarkable scene from Friends that will go down in television history is definitely the scene in which the 6 actors are dancing in the fountain. Everything seems just right, and it looks like they were having such a blast.
It looks fun but, in reality, they were a bit uncomfortable filming that scene. They felt really weird dancing in a fountain and could not find any connection to the actual plot. We didn’t either, but this does not mean that the scene isn’t epic.
It was fake!
And if we are speaking about the famous fountain in which the actors are dancing, splashing and having so much fun, here is an interesting fact about it. What we all thought was the Pulitzer Fountain in New York actually wasn’t.
The famous fountain was fake, and it wasn’t even located in New York, as we all thought, but in Los Angeles on one of Warner’s Bros.’s properties. It was a huge disappointment to hear this, and we choose to ignore this information.
The name was different
Here is another fact you probably didn’t know, and neither did we. It turns out that, in the early stages, the name of the sitcom was not Friends but Insomnia Cafe. Now that is a name we cannot associate with what we watched growing up.
They also thought of naming it Six of One and Friends Like Us, but eventually, they thought that they weren’t snappy enough and decided to stick with just Friends. And it was a good decision. Imagine wearing a T-shirt with any other name on it.
You must remember Ursula Buffay, Phoebe’s evil, selfish, and hilariously mean twin. She was the opposite of the lovable Phoebe. Ursula actually came way before her twin, as her character was inspired from the sitcom Mad About You.
The three creators loved the character so much that they had to add her into the story. And what better way to introduce a nefarious character than putting her in the frame with a very nice and innocent one? What a smart move.