Monica got a roommate and television and our lives changed forever. With all Friends seasons in endless syndication, it’s easy for die-hard fans to watch and re-watch the series, I watched the series like literally 100s of times and still watch it when I work to keep me in peace, Discovering new things with every rewatch. But have you ever questioned what was going on off-camera? Thought the cast became best friends for real and that is what chemistry on-screen shows, was there any notable behind the scenes drama on the Friends set?
While Friends was clearly light on on-set drama, especially when you compare it to other hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy or Two and a Half Men, it still had its good share of off-screen tension during its 10-year run. From one Matthew’s struggle with addiction to serious contract negotiations, this list gathers all.
Andre Agassi smashed his prized tennis trophies in a jealous fit of rage after watching his then-girlfriend, Brooke Shields, film a scene for Friends. Shields played a deranged fan of Joey’s and had to shoot a scene where she licked LeBlanc’s fingers, much to her boyfriend’s dismay.
Before meeting LeBlanc, Aniston took one look at his resume, assumed he’d be a tough guy, and was a little intimidated by him. “He thinks it’s very funny now. And actually, he can sit down and comfort me just like Courteney or Lisa could,” explained Aniston. That Joey Tribbiani and his big heart.
The cast really hated the idea of Rachel and Joey getting together. “It felt wildly inappropriate,” LeBlanc explained. “I was like, ‘That’s Rachel. She’s supposed to be with Ross.’ Everybody got super defensive about the whole thing. We went to David and Marta as a group and said, ‘We’re really concerned about this. It doesn’t feel right. We have a problem with it.'”
Perry’s addiction problems are no longer a secret but they sure made his life difficult while on the set of Friends. He once confessed that his substance abuse problem caused him to forget filming three seasons of the show. While he said never used on set, he admitted to going into work hungover on several occasions.
The chick and the duck weren’t a delight for everyone on set. Kudrow isn’t a big fan of birds and was actually really afraid of the duck. By how flawless their on-screen interactions were, no one would have guessed anything other than pure chemistry.
According to David Schwimmer, Cox was the one who made everyone else nervous in the beginning because “she was the one big name in the cast.” However, she ended up pushing them to become a team and have each other’s backs. “It was our second day of work, and we went outside on a break together,” said Matthew Perry. “She said, ‘This is an ensemble show. I think we should really all try to help each other out.’”
There’s no doubt that Friends was an important show for showcasing equality on screen in various forms. However, NBC expected to get a lot of hate mail after the 1996 episode with the lesbian wedding aired. Surprisingly, the network only received four complaints – all via the telephone.
When Friends started filming, Aniston wasn’t technically available. She was already starring on a show that was on the air called Muddling Through. The series was short-lived, however, and Aniston was eventually able to commit to Friends full-time. It’s hard to imagine a world without “The Rachel.”
The Friends cast famously negotiated their salaries together, eventually earning $1 million per episode. They were the first cast in the history of television to score such a huge number. It was David Schwimmer’s idea for them to band together and form a mini-union. However, network execs weren’t always happy with these negotiations, and Marta Kauffman, one of the creators, even went so far as to call the salaries of the six friends “ridiculous.”
Remember the episode where Joey has to smoke for a role and can’t seem to figure out how to hold a cigarette? In real life, LeBlanc was actually a smoker. The fact that Friends was coming to an end prompted him to pick up the habit after a four-year break. “I had quit smoking for four years, and in that final two weeks I started again because we were so aware that our time together was coming to an end,” he once said.
By the time the show ended, Aniston was arguably the most famous of the six friends. In a 2004 interview, she admitted she had hesitations about returning to play Rachel for the final season because she wasn’t sure about “how much Rachel” she still had in her. Thankfully, she agreed to stay on. Ultimately, the episode order was cut from 24 to 18 to accommodate her schedule.
“When we first pitched the show, although we always said it was an ensemble show, we kind of thought of Phoebe and Chandler as a little more secondary, that they’ll provide humor when we need it”, Marta Kauffman explained. That said, she admitted the pair brought much more to the table than just comedic relief.
Matt LeBlanc was struggling to make it as an actor for years before he landed the part of Joey. He only had $11.00 in his pocket when he started Friends and admitted the show saved his career. Come to think of it, the role of a broke actor fit him like a glove.
Just like her character, Courteney Cox struggled with fertility issues during the show’s run and suffered several miscarriages. “I remember one time I just had a miscarriage and Rachel was giving birth. It was like that same time,” Cox once said. “Oh my God, it was terrible having to be funny.”
“Our hours were crazy. There were so many mornings when we were all finishing the rewrites. We’d get notes from the studio and the network,” David Crane recalls in the Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV book. Kauffman added that they paid special attention to how the audience reacted.
“But it was our notes that killed us. We knew we had to listen to the audience. Their silence tells you a lot. Laughing in good and bad ways. Laughing at setups instead of jokes,” she said.
Filming the final episode of Friends was very emotional for everyone involved. “I mean, the last scene we just wept, cried our eyes out… [A]nd then a couple of us stayed really late and we crawled up to the roof of Stage 24 [at Warner Bros.] and we drank champagne and watched the sun rise. It was really wonderful,” Aniston recalls.