Central Perk Secrets: 40 Hidden Details About Friends Only The Crew Knew
If we were to dish out the ultimate list of top-notch sitcoms, NBC’s Friends would undoubtedly snag the crown. Picture this: six pals navigating life’s rollercoaster in the heart of New York City, featuring the megastars Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt Le Blanc, David Schwimmer, and the late Matthew Perry, all skyrocketing into stardom thanks to their roles in the show.
But hold onto your Central Perk mugs because behind the scenes, there’s a treasure trove of moments that only those lucky enough to be in the live audience got to witness. Yup, while you were snuggled up on your couch, there were hidden gems and inside scoops galore that didn’t quite make it through the screen. Ready to dive into the juicy secrets that made Friends even more legendary than you thought? Let’s spill the beans!
Reese wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing
There’s this thrill we derive from seeing our favourite hollywood actors appear as guest stars on shows. That’s what we felt when the one and only Reese Witherspoon graced us with her presence on an episode, little did we know she was struggling a bit.
She played Jill, Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston’s character) sister on an episode and apparently had a hard time performing in front of a live studio audience. She was even asked to come back for later episodes in the series but turned down the offer because she was way too nervous.
Lisa has a fear of birds and that was a problem
We all have our phobias and some celebs are known for theirs. A certain cast member on the sitcom also had one that posed a bit of an issue for the executives since what she was afraid of had to be on the show at some point.
Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe, is infamously scared of birds and that was kind of something people picked up on after the duck was introduced in the series. It goes to show how great of an actress she is because watching those scenes where she’s with the animal, we’d never have guessed!
Lisa Kudrow wasn’t the best on a guitar
It’s quite often to see stars learn a skill to help them take on a role better, but that doesn’t mean they’ll exactly get the hang of it regardless of them needing to for the show. That’s exactly the case when it came to Lisa and playing the guitar.
Apparently, she had to take up lessons to learn it and still couldn’t get a hang of it so the producers settled for her character just being a bad player. Good call, we say. Those not so great moments she had on the instrument really made for some added comedy.
Set designers thrifted
One recurring criticism we seldom see for TV series and movies is how unrealistic places look and seem. The set designers for this sitcom wanted none of that so they opted for a budget friendly way they could achieve a realistic apartment for Monica.
This means they went thrifting for most of her furniture and the other things found in her apartment, all done to fit her style. It’s a simple, smart and inexpensive way to get around the fact that Monica wouldn’t be able to afford expensive stuff for her place in NYC.
The animals were a problem
It’s one thing to tell humans what to do on set, whether they want to go with it or not is a different issue. It’s a whole other thing trying to tell animals how to coordinate themselves in front of the screen because they’re not the greatest at listening.
Over the course of the series, we had seen quite several animals make appearances. From geese to dogs, goldfishes to even monkeys, it’s been a literal zoo sometimes, especially with Marcel the monkey not wanting to stick to the script.
It’s almost impossible to go an entire series, especially when it went on for as long as Friends did, without a single plot hole or inconsistency. So we weren’t too shocked when we learnt about this one concerning Ross.
Very observant fans seemed to have noticed that Ross remained the same years for seasons 3-5 which should have covered a span of three years, even on the show. Ross said he was 29 in all three seasons which wouldn’t check out with… reality.
Crazy over salads
On the show, Phoebe, Monica and Rachel were totally different women. Their personalities, wants and likes were usually miles away from one another but it might not have exactly been that way for the actual actresses behind the scenes.
Sources have it Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow would seldom have lunch together, and it was surprisingly almost always the same thing – a cobb salad with an unusual recipe made by Jen herself. The dish even recently got famous on TikTok!
Courteney played… herself
There are loads of times when fans would have interacted with Hollywood stars and propose they play characters that are just like themselves in reality. Adam Sandler and Ryan Reynolds are two instances and apparently, Courteney Cox is another too.
She was sort of a clean freak in the show and it has been revealed that so was she behind the scenes. A source has it Courteney had the cleanest dressing room and would clean up those of the other stars if she would have to be in there. She even owns a cleaning line!
Scared of a backlash
Although things have changed in and there’s now widespread acceptance of members of the LGBTQ+ community, it wasn’t like that a little while ago. That’s why NBC executives were skeptical of the feedback they’d get over one Friends episode.
Carol and Susan got married which was the first time a lesbian wedding was ever shown on TV and NBC was scared of the complaints they’d get. Surprisingly, they got little to none which came as a big relief to them all.
Monica and Chandler weren’t meant to be
We’ve seen a lot of couples throughout the entirety of the Friends series, but by far the one that stood out to us (and many other fans of the iconic sitcom) have got to be Chandler and Monica… which makes it hard to believe they weren’t meant to be.
The co-creator of the show said during an interview that the two were going to end up together until after an episode they wake up in bed together. The crowd went wild over the surprise and they decided to roll with it, eventually allowing the two get married.
A tragedy changed an episode
9/11 really did a number on the entertainment industry. A lot of things that connote the incident were taken off the air after the tragedy and even a Biggie song relating to it led to a plethora of conspiracy theories.
Even Friends had to rethink a scene in an episode after the 11th of September in 2001, not wanting to offend the audience. It was one where Chandler would make a joke about a bomb in an airport and it was replaced with Monica getting jealous over a couple.
Economic crisis shaped an episode
No matter how big a tv show or movie franchise is, it’s always smart to be budget friendly to get greater profits and that’s the route this sitcom took for a particular episode. “The One Where No One’s Ready” had a unique storyline and for economic reasons.
The budget cut shaped this episode, where everything is filmed in one single location; Monica’s apartment. It would even go on to become an incredibly iconic episode even being an inspiration behind the music videos of one of Jay-Z’s songs.
Jen was not a fan of the hair
Besides having to learn all kinds of skills, actors are also seldom required to put up with a lot of stuff they don’t usually feel the greatest in. One prime example of this was Jennifer Aniston’s character on the show, Rachel Green and her iconic haircut.
Apparently, she was not the biggest fan of the “Rachel cut” even describing it as one of the ugliest hairdos she’s ever seen! We’re definitely not saying it’s the most fashionable, but it certainly isn’t half bad for the era.
Carol was changed after just one episode
Things don’t always go exactly as planned and we often see cast members cut off for one reason or another. For instances where the character isn’t let go, they have to find a replacement for whoever played them in the series.
In Friends, the lady who played Carol (Ross’ ex-wife) was changed for another just after a single episode, the very first one to be exact. She wanted a more regular acting role which Friends did not offer for her so she had to let it go.
Negotiated for higher pay together
It’s common to see pay inequality and unfair pay, especially in the workplace. During the earlier seasons of Friends, the cast had a decent compensation for their work but as the popularity of the show grew, they expected their paychecks to as well.
So, all six teamed up and put their foot down for greater pay, and they got it! By the end of the series, each of the six main characters was taking home a whooping $1m for each episode of the show!
Lisa Kudrow was actually pregnant during the show
Having a show comes with its complexities and one of the biggest the creators seldom have to face is accommodating the personal lives of the stars on the show. This was evident when Lisa Kudrow was expecting a child and how the show’s creators incorporated it into the sitcom.
Since they couldn’t simply just hide her growing belly, producers decided to actually make her pregnant on screen as well. They decided to make her a surrogate for her brother’s kids and it was one of the most memorable times on the show.
An average episode took six hours to film
A lot of work goes into everything we get to see on TV and in the cinema and the timestamps on these pieces of work are nothing like what it took in reality. For instance, each episode of Friends is about 23 minutes long but takes hours to film.
Reports have it an episode takes an average of 5-6 hours to film in front of that live studio audience. That’s why they were seldom treated to snacks and freebies during the entirety of the show. Seems like a win on all fronts to us!
Matt Le Blanc was broke before being on Friends
It’s safe to say every single cast member got their big break by being on the show. But it’s also safe to say no one needed it more than Matt Le Blanc did for Joey and we’re almost certain he feels the same way too.
Reports have it the actor had just $11 to his name when he got the call that would change his life for eternity. He is now worth $85m dollars, so far removed from the life he used to live prior to being on the hit sitcom.
Phoebe’s twin sister was on another show
We live for cross overs. It’s just so exciting whenever we get to see our favourite characters from different series or universes in one sort of like what went down on Friends. Ursula was a character Lisa was playing on another show as well as on the sitcom.
The creators decided to take the hilarious character, sort of borrowing her and making Lisa play her on the show as well. It’s a nice move that would excite viewers who were fans of the two shows at the time.
Cliffhangers weren’t filmed in front of an audience
We absolutely hate spoilers and we’re sure many people do too, including the makers of shows and movies. It might cause a lack of interest in audiences, so we totally understand why executives of the shows went for this approach to make sure there were no leaks.
Friends was usually filmed in front of a live studio audience, but for certain episodes that ended in cliffhangers, the audiences were asked to leave so that info on those episodes wouldn’t be leaked. A smart way to protect the series we’d say.
Bruce Willis appeared on Friends after losing a bet
This is one of the most incredible things we’ve seen on Television, hands down. The Die Hard actor, the legendary Bruce Willis made a guest appearance on the comedy show after losing a bet to the late great Matthew Perry.
But, that’s not even the great part. He played Paul Stevens on the show and would go on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a comedy series for his role! He got an opportunity to be in a series alongside a friend and won an award for it, truly living the dream.
Cast didn’t love the opening
To us, the title sequence of a series can be one of the most iconic moments in all of the episode. Think how short and effective Breaking Bad’s was or how unique CSI: Miami’s as well. That’s what we felt for Friends but unfortunately, the main six didn’t share that sentiment.
Reports have it Jennifer Aniston revealed that they weren’t the biggest fans of the opening and dancing in the fountain felt weird. They did it anyway because… showbiz, but at least most viewers would think a bit otherwise.
Another pregnancy that had to be worked around
It wasn’t only Lisa Kudrow that was pregnant during the show. The second actress who played Ross’ ex-wife, Emily, was also expectant when she was supposed to film a lot of important scenes for the show, so they had to work around that.
Creators felt her character having a baby just like she was would be sort of out of place so they had to work to hide her tummy. They had to alter her dress so the baby bump would not show and scenes were shot in such a way her pregnancy was not obvious.
Secret messages on the doodle board
This is probably one of the few if not the only hidden details we caught on to and we’re really proud of ourselves for that. The sitcom decided to make the show even more wholesome by including an easter egg in most episodes.
The doodle board was present in many episodes that featured Joey and Chandler’s apartment and it usually included messages or drawings relevant to the episode. We think it’s a super fun detail and a nice thing to look out for in the episodes.
Christina Applegate was already acquainted with cast
When you’re already a name in Hollywood, making friends with and meeting other people in Hollywood won’t be a big deal, and that goes for just any other sphere besides entertainment. That’s why we weren’t so shocked when we got this revelation.
Reports have it Christina Applegate, a guest star that played Rachel’s sister, already knew some Friends cast members. In fact, she says she’d known Matthew Perry since they were kids and also knew Courteney, Lisa and David Schwimmer.
Sarah Ferguson was scared about her cameo
If you’re not a natural in front of the screen or haven’t been practicing your whole life, it might be a bit scary to appear in front of a show. That’s probably what the Duchess of York, Sarah Fergusson, felt when it came to her cameo on Friends.
She wasn’t very at ease to do it on an episode filmed on London, feeling nervous about the appearance somewhat being coerced to be a guest star by her daughters who were big fans of the show. Nonetheless, Matthew and Matt LeBlanc helped her learn her lines and relax so she could nail it.
Real Barrista on set
We personally think audiences get a way more authentic viewing of the show when people and actors who are experienced in what they play are hired for the roles. Being a barista already was probably a bonus when it came to hiring this beloved Friends cast member.
The late amazing James Michael Tyler was an actual barista at the gang’s favorite coffee shop and was indubitably one of the most beloved members of the cast. “Gunther” appeared in most episodes and even though he barely had any lines he was still an icon of the show.
A disliked pairing
For the most part, Friends was a likeable show with loads of iconic moments. But as much as we’d have hits, there were also a few misses here and there and a certain pairing between two of the main cast members was one of them.
Apparently, no one liked the whole Joey and Rachel thing behind the scenes, saying it was wildly inappropriate and that they felt uncomfy about the whole thing. Even viewers share that sentiment with some claiming it flat our ruined the show. Yikes.
Jennifer nearly didn’t return for the last season
All the main six cast members are what make the show… the show. Without either of them, things would have felt very incomplete that’s why we were a bit shell shocked when we learnt Jennifer Aniston nearly didn’t return for the series finale of the show.
This was due to a number of reasons, mostly because of her personal convictions. She wasn’t sure how much of Rachel she had left in her and worried that the quality of the show would decline as the writers continue to seek for new storylines.
Two beloved characters were supposed to be secondary
Just as we couldn’t dare imagine the last season or any season for that matter without Jennifer Aniston as Rachel, we can not imagine the series where two of the main cast members would have been secondary. Those two were Phoebe and Chandler.
The creators of the show initially had plans to make Phoebe and Chandler sort of the comic reliefs for the show and not a part of the main cast. Thank goodness they didn’t go for that, can’t for the life of us imagine the show without those two in the main.
Show name underwent some changes
We’ve never actually given it much thought, but naming a series would probably be one of the most difficult parts of creating one. It has to resonate with the audience, be catchy, unique and summarise the show. When it came to this one, the creators had a bunch of initial ideas.
They originally named it “Six Of One” and other names like “Across The Hall” and even “Insomnia Cafe” were initially suggested. “Friends Like Us” was another name but we’re glad they settled for the simple and iconic friends.
A different face to Joey
We think a cast can make or break a show and selecting the right people for the right roles can be instrumental in it’s takeoff. Just like how Tom Hiddleston auditioned as Thor but got cast as Loki in the MCU and it worked amazingly, the same phenomena can be found here.
Hank Azaria, The Simpsons alum actually auditioned to play the role of Joey twice but got rejected and the offer was given to Matt Le Blanc. He later got cast as David, a character who had an on and off relationship with Phoebe and we think it worked best.
Another nervous cameo
Seems like appearing on Friends didn’t just give the royals cold feet, even veteran actors were a little scared to appear on the show too. And not just any veteran actor, Tom Selleck for that matter when he played Richard Burke.
This isn’t a unique thing as he revealed during an interview with Kelly Clarkson that he often feels this way when he’s asked to guest star in series, and this one was especially worse since he hadn’t done one in a sitcom before. Nonetheless, Courteney helped him through it and Tom said he had a nice time working with them.
Monica was supposed to be… different
Characters seldom undergo evolution during the course of a series and turn out to be very different people compared to who they started as, completely switching up the story. Take Walter White from Breaking Bad for instance. But how would the story be if they were different to begin with?
That’s what we were left wondering when we got the shocking revelation that the character, Monica Geller, was supposed to be very different. She was supposed to be tough, sarcastic and cynical but we’re glad they went with obsessive-compulsive, caring and friendly.
Joey and Monica were supposed to be together
It’s very common to see things not turn out to be the way they were planned for at the beginning of the series, in the end. Loads of concepts were changed and ideas thrown out the window when the natural course of things took their place.
According to show executives, Joey was actually supposed to end up with Monica. But, spoiler alert, after the whole deal with Chandler was revealed, viewers loved it so much that they decided to roll with that instead, giving us a much more satisfying ending.
Trip to Vegas
A lot of people have high hopes for a project and in the end, it doesn’t sell quite as much as they’d hoped it would. Director of one of the best sitcoms of all time, James Burrows, had a good feeling about the show and he was right.
He was so pumped about it all that he took all six main cast members out to Vegas before the shooting began, telling them to enjoy the time while they can as that would be their last chance at anonymity. And, he certainly was right!
David Schwimmer directed several episodes of the show
Instead of seeing actors learn new skills for the show, we love seeing them lend the ones they have already got to improve it. David Schwimmer isn’t just an actor, but he’s also a director and did some of that during the course of the show.
Reports have it David directed not one or two but ten whooping episodes of the show, making him the only cast member to do so throughout it’s entirety. After watching a couple of them, we have to say he did a pretty good job.
A cast member’s father made a cameo too
Besides Paul Rudd, Brad Pitt, Tom Selleck, Bruce Willis, Ben Stiller, Brooke Shields, Julia Roberts and the multitude of other a-list actors that have made cameos on the show, one particular member of the cast had his father in one too!
John Bennet Perry, actor and former model, plays the father of one of Rachel’s love interest and happens to be the father to none other than the late and great Matthew Perry himself. He’s on screen for a short while but nonetheless a memorable one.
Matt got injured on set
It’s very often to see things go south during the course of a shooting but never did we think that would be the case for a sitcom! During one iconic episode we mentioned earlier, the one with the budget cuts, Matt actually suffered a painful injury by the end.
He was supposed to perform a little harmless “stunt” but tripped in the process and dislocated his shoulder. It was so bad they had to get him to a hospital and the injury had to be written into the following episode.
Lovely pre-show ritual
Over the course of the show, it’s not surprising to know that the cast actually became super close. That’s the ensemble cast effect coming to life. Not only would they do things together but they even had a ritual they would do before every show.
They’d have a little huddle before the taping began and it’s one they continued to do even till their very last episode. David Schwimmer described the one for the series finale being very emotional and we totally understand why.