When the show *Friends* premiered in 1994, no one could have foreseen it becoming a cultural phenomenon. How many of your own friends obsessively listened to its theme song, “I’ll Be There For You?” Every time I finished watching an episode, I always wanted to meet up with my friends at a coffee shop and emulate the playful banter the stars of the show mastered so beautifully. It’s hard to believe that it has already been 11 years since the series ended. For those wishing to reminisce on the show of our youth, here are some fun and interesting facts.
David Schwimmer was the first actor cast, Jennifer Aniston was the last. In fact, the character of Ross was written specifically for Schwimmer. Aniston had to audition for the role.
Ellen DeGeneres turned down the role of Phoebe. Kathy Griffin, Jane Lynch and Megan Mullally also auditioned for the role. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the six main characters.
Courtney Cox was the most famous actor at the beginning of the series. She was “that girl” in Bruce Springteen’s music video, “Dancing In The Dark.” She was dating actor Michael Keaton at the time, making her new cast members feel a bit intimidated by her.
Lisa Kudrow admits Phoebe’s hippie personality was inspired by Jennifer Aniston. Aniston is interested in the ‘spiritual.’ For example, Aniston turned to yoga following her split from Brad Pitt. This probably explains her amazing figure.
Jennifer Aniston’s hair became known as, “the Rachel” and was copied around the world. The style is described as a bouncy hair shag. It was impossible to not pass someone on the street in the 90’s with the iconic hairdo.
The six cast members were paid $22,000.00 per episode in the first season. By the last season, they each received $1,000,000 per episode. The six actors always negotiated their salaries together, an unheard practise at the time. Kudrow said, “the six of us are far stronger than just one person.”
The orange couch in the opening credits and in Central Perk was “discovered” in the basement of Warner Bros. studio. On the show, the couch was reserved for the characters given they lived upstairs and how Rachael worked the longest as a waitress in the coffee shop. The sofa is considered one of the most recognizable props in TV history.
The six cast members would huddle together before shooting each episode. No cameras or other people were allowed. All six are still close to this day. Even the word,’ friend’ or ‘friends’ was spoken at least once in most episodes.
The show was criticized for having the friends living in a huge apartment despite New York’s high real estate cost. It is estimated, based on size, the apartment would cost approximately $3,500,000. Who knows how much that apartment would cost today?
Despite the show being depicted in New York, it was actually filmed in California. Each 22-minute episode took five to six hours to film. The crew worked tirelessly to create an authentic Big Apple experience.
Joey’s pick-up line, “How you doin’?” was ranked #4 in TV Guide’s list of “TV’s 20 Top Catchphrases,” 2005 issue. Even Chandler’s voice inflections rose in popularity.
Talk about a bachelor pad; Joey and Chandler’s apartment had two microwaves. They also had a foosball table and lots of space to throw house parties and have ‘Friends’ over.
The frame on the door’s peep hole originally had a mirror. It fell and broke, but producers liked how it looked so it was kept. This frame has become an icon for the show.
The London episodes were taped in front of a live audience of 500 people, the largest number in the show’s history. Speaking of records, the final episode on the sitcom ranks fifth as the most-watched series finales ever with 52.5 Million viewers in the US alone.
The number of Hollywood A-listers that made guest apperance were endless: Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Danny DeVito, Brooke Shields, Robin Williams , Susan Sarandon, and Reese Whiterspoon. There was no other show on TV at the time, aside from late night, that could get the stars like Friends did.
The show’s theme song “I’ll Be There For You,” by the Rembrandts, was #1 on the pop chart in 1994. It was perfect timing as networks were looking to eliminate theme songs in opening credits altogether. The show also considered REM’s, “Shiny Happy People” as the title track.
Kathleen Turner played Chandler’s transgender dad, probably cast in the role because of her deep and raspy voice. Despite the show being over, Kathleen Turner admits that Matthew Perry still calls her ‘dad.’
Every friend was unemployed at one point during the series. Ross had a self-imposed sabbatical. The careers were vast for the characters: Assistant buyer for Bloomingdale’s, chef, self-taught musician, model/actor, statistical analyst and paleontologist.
Courtney Cox was offered the part of Rachel. She turned it down and asked to play Monica as she felt she was that character. Given how brilliantly each character was cast, it’s hard to imagine any of the six actors playing anyone else.
Talk about star power. Tom Selleck’s guest appearance had to be re-shot without a live audience as he received outstanding ovations every time. He played Monica’s love interest.
Gunther, portrayed by James Michael Tyler, got his role as a barista because he knew how to operate an espresso machine as he worked in a coffee shop between auditioning for work. He kept his barista job for the first four seasons of the show.
Rachel and Joey are the only two friends who worked at Central Perk at one point. Although, both characters were inefficient at their jobs as servers.
Phoebe was the surrogate mother to her TV brother Giovanni Ribisi’s triplets. In actuality, Lisa Kudrow was pregnant with her son Julian. It probably wasn’t hard for Kudrow to prep for her scenes
Courteney Cox had recently suffered a miscarriage when she shot the episode where Rachel gives birth to Emma. It had to have been bitter-sweet for Cox who later gave birth to daughter Coco Riley Arquette in 2004.
While filming the movie, The Whole Nine Yards, Matthew Perry bet Bruce Willis that the movie would debut at #1. Willis consequently lost the bet and made a guest appearance on the show. He donated his earnings to charity.
David Schwimmer directed 10 episodes of the series. He also directed two episodes on the Friends’ spinoff show, Joey He would make his film-directing debut in 2007 with Run Fatboy Run. Although it seems he is more busy these days with acting jobs than directing gigs.
The executives at NBC found Central Perk to be too trendy. They were hoping for a hang out more like Seinfeld’s diner. Luckily, the coffee shop was endearing for fans of the show and producers decided to make it a Friends’ mainstay.
Lisa Kudrow was scared of the duck in season 3. A monkey named Marcel was also featured in the series but later written out of the show because its scenes took too long to shoot. Other animals appearing in the series: a chick, cat and dogs.
Monica and Chandler may have ended up together but producers were initially working on a Monica-Joey hookup. In the last half of the series, a possible love interest was explored between Joey and Rachael but didn’t go anywhere.
Lisa Kudrow had been playing the role of waitress Ursula Buffay in the show Mad About You. The producers decided to make that character Phoebe’s twin. Ursula did appear in several episodes of Friends and like Phoebe was a bit aloof but didn’t come as adorable.
Jennifer Aniston’s father is a famous soap star on Days Of Our Lives. Ironically, on the TV show Friends, the character Joey is a struggling actor who lands a recurring role on Days Of Our Lives as Dr. Drake Ramoray.
The six friends are named after All My Children (1970) characters. Ross for Ross Chandler, Joey for Joey Martin, Chandler for the Chandler family, Monica for Monique/Daisy Cortland, Rachel Greene for Janet Green, and Phoebe for Phoebe Tyler Wallingford.
Except for Monica and Phoebe, all the characters have kissed each other and not just once but several times throughout the show’s run. Season five’s second episode was aptly named, “The One with All the Kissing.”
While cosmetic surgery is common in show biz, the character Rachel, had a nose job during her time at college. Aniston did not have the procedure done in real life.
When the exterior of the building is shown on TV, there are no balconies. Yet many conversations happened on Monica’s mysterious balcony.