The Wrong Coast
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Friends is supposed to take place in New York. The opening credits feature the cast dancing in a Manhattan-based fountain. However, this was not the case. The shot was actually filmed on Warner Brothers Ranch in Burbank, Calif. For those desperately puttering around Manhattan in search of the fountain, you’ll be sorely disappointed to know that it’s not there.
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The creators of Friends (Marta Kauffman, David Crane) initially had wanted Courteney Cox to play the role of Rachel. However, Cox personally found Monica’s role to be far more appealing. As such, Cox took that role, and the world became introduced to Jennifer Aniston (we feel like this worked out for both — particularly Aniston).
Brewing With Lies
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In Central Perk, there was a real-life antique espresso machine stationed next to barista Gunther (played by James Michael Tyler). Cast members were also sipping on actual coffee when filming scenes. However, the espresso machine was never turned on during filming because of its loud noise. As such, Gunther never actually made a drink whilst behind the coffee bar.
What’s My Age Again?
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Many people have a habit of lying about their age. For three consecutive seasons of the show, Ross (played by David Schwimmer) is said to be 29 years old. Additionally, there were two months (October, December) in which his birthday was celebrated. Clearly, the creators of the show were not worried about being exact.
He Forgot His Suit and Tie
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Justin Timberlake was a massive fan of Friends. So much, in fact, that the pop star met with show creators to discuss the possibility of garnering a guest role. However, creators weren’t able to find Timberlake the perfect part. As such, he never appeared on the show (much to the chagrin of a million teenagers from the early 2000s).
Tardy For The Party
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Jennifer Aniston had a penchant for always being late to the set. It got to a point where co-creator David Crane staged an intervention to try and fix her tardiness problem. Considering Aniston was the biggest star on the show by far, I think the production heads were willing to give her a pass.
Smoking or No Smoking?
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Matt LeBlanc had successfully quit smoking during the filming of the show. For four years, he had warded off all advancements from the tobacco monkey creeping up his back. However, he started smoking again two weeks before the show completely ended. This was due to the anxiety in knowing that his time on Friends was quickly coming to an end.
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When Lisa Kudrow got pregnant, the writing team used her real-life pregnancy as a storyline for the show. This resulted in her on-screen character Phoebe carrying her brother’s triplets as a surrogate. Cox also got pregnant in real life. However, the show’s arc already had dictated that characters Monica and Chandler (played by Matthew Perry) were unable to have children. As such, Cox’s bulging belly was hid with larger outfits, various costumes, and movable props.
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Prior to the show starting, the main cast took a trip together to Las Vegas. At the time, all of them were relative unknowns to the public. This trip provided them a chance to get to know each other. Additionally, one of the show’s main directors orchestrated the trip to give cast members their last chance at anonymity. Everyone on the show felt as if Friends was primed to be a huge deal (and it ultimately was).
The Unexpected Emergence
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As the show was being developed, Friends was initially slated to focus around four main characters (Joey, Rachel, Monica, Ross) with the other two (Chandler, Phoebe) acting in complementary roles. However, the chemistry of Kudrow and Perry with the other cast members made this initial plan a faulty one.
What Could’ve Been
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Aniston, Schwimmer, Kudrow, Cox, Perry, and LeBlanc are all iconic figures in today’s acting world. Virtually every one of them garnered this sort of publicity from Friends. However, this almost wasn’t meant to be. Tea Leoni was originally cast as Rachel. Famed director/actor Jon Favreau passed on the role of Chandler. Hank Azaria was a finalist for the role of Joey, and Jane Lynch almost was cast as Phoebe. Also interestingly enough, co-creator Marta Kauffman wanted Joey and Monica to be a couple (before Chandler was thrust into the mix).
The Name Game
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Before Friends became the title of the show, there were others heavily considered. Insomnia Cafe was a front-runner — as was Six of One and Friends Like Us. Eventually, the ‘like us’ part was dropped in favor of the truncated title Friends. We feel as if the show’s creators made a wise choice with that one.
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Most of the time, the show was filmed in front of a live studio audience. However, the creators insisted on filming ‘cliffhanger’ episodes without live audiences. This included the famous season four finale wedding scene between Ross and Rachel.
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During the production of the show, Perry was in-and-out of rehab over issues with alcohol and prescription drugs. While never under the influence on set, Perry admitted that he was often hungover — something the cast and crew could clearly see.
Perry Problems Part 2
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Perry’s drug problem was so bad, that he doesn’t remember filming three seasons (3-6) of the series. When asked about his least favorite episode, Perry had this to say:
“I think the answer is, I don’t remember three years of it. So none of those … Somewhere between season three and six … I was a little out of it.”
There Was Almost No ‘Smelly Cat’
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Phoebe is prominently known for her rendition of “Smelly Cat” on the guitar. Ironically enough, Kudrow hated playing the guitar. She had issues learning how to play it, and even asked if she could play the bongos instead. We just don’t think “Smelly Cat” would’ve had the same ring to it if Phoebe was slamming the bongo rather than strumming the guitar.
Appearances Can Be Deceiving
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Multiple people on the show (including Kudrow) thought that Chandler’s character was gay. This was solely based upon Perry’s interpretation of the role during table reads. However, co-creator Crane squelched that rumor during an interview on a talk show.
Doing It For Charity
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Perry and longtime Hollywood actor Bruce Willis acted together in The Whole Nine Yards. Willis lost a bet to Perry in which the veteran actor had to guest star on Friends. Willis wasn’t exactly known as a television actor. Apparently, Willis donated his entire salary from the guest spot to charity.
Oh. My. God.
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Janice (played by Maggie Wheeler) was a highly popular character. Known for her crazy laugh, audiences went wild whenever seeing her. In order to keep audiences in the dark, Wheeler would be hidden until the very last second before entering the stage. Additionally, Wheeler in real life sounded nothing like her character.
An Interesting Tryst
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LeBlanc was chock-full of ideas. He opted to play Joey as a dolt even when he wasn’t written as such in the original script. One day, LeBlanc came to creators with the idea of unveiling the secret that Joey and Phoebe had been casually having sex for the entire series. This fact would then be unveiled to the audience in an episode towards the end of the final season. Though LeBlanc was psyched on the idea, the creators of the show quickly shot down this storyline pitch.
Life Imitates Art
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James Michael Tyler — the actor playing barista Gunther — was actually working as a barista when cast in the role. He was a barista at a Hollywood coffee establishment called The Bourgeois Pig. Though Tyler never really made coffee on the show, at least he had experience moving around the coffee bar.
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We all know Phoebe is a bit weird…or shall we say eccentric. Interestingly enough, the original character of Phoebe was supposed to be goth. This fact dissuaded Janeane Garofalo completely. She turned the role down upon hearing the goth angle. This then opened the door up for Kudrow to crush the role.
A Parting Gift
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Upon the show ending, all cast members got to take home a memento. By memento, we mean a piece of Central Perk. This included pieces of the fake sidewalk outside of the makeshift coffee shop.
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Before every episode, the cast decided to huddle up in order to prepare for the upcoming show. Schwimmer recounted the somber moment when he realized it wasn’t going to last forever:
“I started to lose it in this ritual that we had before the show, which is just a group hug, kind of get in a little circle, right before we come out. And that was the moment I was dreading for a long time because I knew that moment of just looking at everyone in their eyes, and saying ‘Have a good show,’ and knowing that was the last time we were going to be able to be in our little circle.”
Feeling Left Out
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Every single cast member on the show — except for Cox — received an Emmy nomination during the show’s 10-year run. Even Monica’s mom (played by Christina Pickles) received a nomination for her work. We still love you anyways, Courteney.