The ’90s sitcom “Friends” remains a touchstone in television history. Whether you’ve recently discovered it on Netflix or you’ve been quoting it your entire life, here are 20 facts about the filming of “Friends” that will probably surprise you.
Ross and Rachel were always endgame.
Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) may have become the quintessential “will they won’t they” couple in pop culture, but there was never any doubt in David Crane and Marta Kaufmann’s minds that they wouldn’t end up together.
Even when looking at alternative endings, it seemed impossible for them to end the show with Ross and Rachel completely over. “We did talk about, with Ross and Rachel, a grey area of where they aren’t together, but we hint there’s a sense that they might be down the road,” explained Crane to Entertainment Weekly. “But we thought, ‘No, if we’re going to do it, let’s do it.’ It’s the nature of our show. It’s not a show about grays. Let’s deliver not just what the audience wants, but what we want, which was to see them finally together.”
Monica and Joey were originally meant to end up together.
“Friends” co-creator and executive producer Marta Kauffman explained to the Hollywood Reporter that a lot of aspects of the show changed as natural chemistry developed between cast members. “You set out to do things, and then actors come in and they breathe life into it, and it’s not quite what you imagined it was going to be,” said Kauffman.
For instance, Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) were only supposed to get together briefly before she was slated to end up with Joey (Matthew LeBlanc). But when Monica and Chandler did get together on screen, viewers had such an enthusiastic response to the pairing that the Joey and Monica plotline was discarded.
“We were stunned,” said Kauffman. “So that’s when we sort of went, ‘Huh, guess this is going in a different direction.'”
Jennifer Aniston was the last of the main six to officially join the cast.
Now one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood, Jennifer Aniston was still new to acting when they filmed the pilot of “Friends.” Aniston revealed to Us Weekly that she was the last of the six main cast members to be added onto the series.
Unsure of her longevity on the show, she was asked to sit out of the main cast photos for the majority of the shoot because producers did not know if she would stay on as Rachel.
Aniston proved herself to be integral to the cast and would go on to win an Emmy for her performance as Rachel Green.
The entire cast went on a trip to Vegas before the show premiered.
“Friends” director James Burrows had such a good feeling about the show’s success before it premiered that he decided to treat the cast to a trip to Vegas before their careers took off.
“I took them to Vegas,” said Burrows. “I had me and six of them and I said – I don’t know why I said this – 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.’ I knew the show had a chance to really take off.”
Kudrow and LeBlanc wanted Phoebe and Joey to have a secret tryst.
In a joint interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Kudrow (who played Phoebe Buffay) and Matthew LeBlanc shared the fact that they had pitched an ending to the producers where Phoebe and Joey were revealed to have been sleeping together throughout the series.
“Towards the end we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been having casual sex the entire time,” said LeBlanc. “We’d go back and shoot all the historical scenes and just before a moment that everyone recognises, there’s Joey and Phoebe coming out of a broom closet together. But they were like, ‘Nah.'”
Courtney Cox was a neat freak on set just like Monica.
Kauffman gushed about working with Courtney Cox in a 1995 issue of The Los Angeles Times, noting the similarities she shared with her character.
“Let’s face it, she’s adorable and intelligent and really together. She is Monica,” said Kauffman. “She has the neatest dressing room. She even cleans up the other actors’ dressing rooms because she won’t go in there if they are too messy. Yet at the same time, she can do things that are unexpected and wonderful and really funny. Courteney is sarcastic. She makes me laugh all the time. We’re really lucky to find an actress who can do that.”
Budget cuts led to the famed “The One Where No One’s Ready” episode.
In the episode “The One Where No One’s Ready,” the episode is filmed entirely in Monica’s apartment. The episode is so notable that Jay Z later parodied it in his “Moonlight” music video.
Following arguments, clothing changes, and hummus disasters, the friends don’t make it out the door to Ross’ museum function until the last few seconds. In the television special “Friends: Final Thoughts” the producers reveal that the episode was restricted to Monica’s apartment due to budget cuts. Low on money for multiple filming locations, the “bottle episode” of “Friends” was created.
NBC’s broadcast standards kept changing throughout the show’s run.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, co-creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman expressed their exasperation with the network’s constantly changing rules.
“For a long time, we couldn’t show a condom wrapper,” said Kauffman.
“The rules kept changing,” added Crane. “For the first three years we could say ‘penis.’ Then we couldn’t say ‘penis.’ Then we could say ‘penis’ again.”
Ross didn’t age for three years.
In seasons three, four, and five of “Friends” Ross (David Schwimmer) references being 29 years old, which means that he did not age for three years on the show. Although it’s probably just a writing goof that was overlooked, perhaps Ross just lied about his age because he was insecure about turning 30.
Justin Timberlake wanted to guest star on the show.
“Friends” had a slew of popular actors and celebrities guest star on the show throughout its run. Despite getting big names like Bruce Willis, Robin Williams, and Julia Roberts, Kauffman and Crane still regret the fact that they couldn’t find a way to fit Justin Timberlake into the show.
“We got a call that Justin Timberlake wanted to do the show,” said Kauffman.
Crane jumped in to add, “We had a meeting with him and he was lovely, but we didn’t have a good part for him.”
“My kids were furious,” Kauffman said. “They wanted to kill me.”
Jennifer Aniston hated her iconic haircut.
Often dubbed “the Rachel,” a short haircut with full-bodied layers became a huge trend after Jennifer Aniston styled her hair that way on “Friends.”
“I was not a fan of the ‘Rachel.'” Aniston told Glamour in 2015. “That was kind of cringe-y for me. Looking back-honestly, even during that time-I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed [my hairstylist] Chris [McMillan] attached to my hip. Left to my own devices, I am not skilled with a hairbrush and blow-dryer.”
The character Ross was created with David Schwimmer in mind.
Warren Littlefield, the president of NBC from 1990 until 1998, said that the character of Ross was created specifically for David Schwimmer.
“Marta and David early on were big fans of David Schwimmer and really wrote the character of Ross with Schwimmer in mind,” Littlefield told the Emmys. “At the time, David was thinking, ‘You know what. I’m just going to go back and do theatre.’ But his agent doggedly pursued him to read the script and come back from Chicago to read for the role. God bless her for that pursuit.”
The cast leveraged their pay as a group, a first in TV history.
During payment negotiations for the third season of “Friends,” the six stars worked as a team to get equal pay to the tune of $US75,000 per episode.
“Stars of hit shows often threaten to boycott their series in pursuit of higher salaries,” The New York Times reported in 1996. “What is unusual is this cast’s effort to use solidarity as leverage.”
They eventually earned $US1 million each an episode.
Matthew LeBlanc’s dislocated shoulder had to be written into the show.
In an interview with Glamour, Matthew LeBlanc discussed how he injured his shoulder on set and it had to be written into the show.
“The commando episode [The One Where No One is Ready] was the week I dislocated my shoulder, and I had to go to the hospital,” said LeBlanc. “They wrote that in I remember, as Joey jumping on the bed.”
Three of the “Friends” stars were featured on “SNL.”
In 1995, David Schwimmer hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” During the opening monologue, Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Aniston jumped up from the audience to help him with his rendition of their show’s theme song “I’ll Be There For You.”
“I’ll be there for you, David!” Lisa called from the audience.
“When the rain starts to pour, Lisa?” David asks.
“We’ll be there for you, David!” Aniston said, as the crowd cheered.
The showrunner doesn’t want the show to be rebooted or revived.
Although there are rumours of a “Friends” reunion constantly swirling around the internet,Kauffman has frequently dispelled the idea of doing a continuation of the show she helped create.
“The show is about that time in your life when your friends are your family – that’s what the show was about,” said Kauffman. She felt that when Monica and Chandler started their own family and left the apartment in the finale episode, the story had finally moved on beyond the characters.
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