The premise of Friends was pretty basic, really – six young twenty-somethings hanging out in a Manhattan coffee shop apartments talking about love, life, careers and friendship. However, the chemistry of the group and the solid writing catapulted the sitcom into the stratosphere. Friends was in the top ten throughout its ten seasons, hitting the number one spot in its eighth year. When its finale rolled around in 2004 it earned the title of having the most watched television episode of the entire 2000s decade. The series was nominated for 62 Emmy awards in its run, and it’s still extremely popular today. Here’s some behind the scenes dish and dirt you may not know about the beloved show.
The cast didn’t want Rachel and Joey to get together any more than you did.
A subplot involving Monica and Chandler being interrogated by airport security was pulled at the last minute.
The scenes were pulled from season eight’s The One Where Rachel Tells Ross’, because the episode was due to air a few weeks after 9/11. The episode aired with a hastily filmed replacement plot involving the pair trying to get an upgrade. The scenes have now been made available to watch on YouTube, and while they’re really funny, you can definitely see how badly they would have played at the time.
The cast of six was originally meant to be four.
There were a few titles before they settled on ‘Friends’
Sometimes simpler is better, but that doesn’t mean everything starts out that way. Before Friends became Friends it was originally a pilot called Insomnia Cafe. Then the name was changed to Friends Like Us, and Across the Hall was considered. Next it was changed to Six of One, before finally settling on one simple word that encapsulated it all, Friends.
THEY SHOT IN FRONT OF A LIVE AUDIENCE
Like most sitcoms, Friends was shot in front of a live audience with as many as 300 people. Each episode took about five hours to shoot, which included 20 minutes between scenes to change the sets. The only time they filmed on a closed set was for cliffhangers like “The One With Ross’s Wedding.”
THERE ARE CENTRAL PERK CAFÉS BASED ON THE FAMOUS COFFEEHOUSE FROM THE SHOW.
Before the show had been cast, Monica and Joey were intended to be the central couple.
Although that was swiftly abandoned after the pilot, we got a glimpse of their dynamic in ‘The One With The Flashback’ where Joey mistakes Monica’s offer of lemonade for an invitation to sex.
THE OPENING SEQUENCE WAS NOT SHOT IN NEW YORK
This might not be a total shocker, but despite how much the fountain in the opening credits looks like the Pulitzer Fountain in Central Park, the shoot actually took place on the Warner Brother’s lot in Burbank.
The real address of the Friends’ apartment, as used in the exterior shots, is 90 Bedford Street in Manhattan’s West Village.
Remember that guy who accidentally threw a condom into Phoebe’s guitar case and then ran back to get it?
He seemed familiar, right? That was Giovanni Ribisi, who later starred as Phoebe’s half-brother Frank – we like to think it was Frank with the condom too, but he and Phoebe had no reason to recognise each other at the time.
Phoebe was originally conceived as a goth girl.
The refrigerators in both apartments really worked.
Fittingly, Monica’s was always well stocked with drinks for the cast and crew, while Joey’s was generally empty.
THE CAST COULD HAVE GONE IN SO MANY DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS
ROSS WAS WRITTEN FOR DAVID SCHWIMMER
While some of the roles were open and auditioned for, the newly divorced, slightly neurotic, paleontologist Ross was the first to be cast because it was written for David Schwimmer specifically. Executive producer Kevin Bright had worked with David before and used his voice to develop the character.
LISA KUDROW WAS NOT INTO PHOEBE’S GUITAR PLAYING
Having been turned down twice for the role of Joey, Hank Azaria ended up playing Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend David.
The one who she should really have ended up with instead of Mike.
LISA KUDROW THOUGHT CHANDLER WAS GAY
THE CHARACTER URSULA STARTED ON MAD ABOUT YOU
The character Phoebe was created as a twin sister for a reason, because when Lisa Kudrow was cast on Friends she already had a role playing Ursula, the airheaded waitress on Mad About You. The producers encouraged her to do both shows and fixed her recognizability by deciding that the characters would be identical sisters.
BRUCE WILLIS DIDN’T GET PAID FOR HIS ROLE ON THE SHOW BECAUSE OF A LOST BET
THE APARTMENT NUMBER CHANGED DURING THE SERIES
When the show started, Monica’s apartment was number five and Chandler’s was four, but then they realized that this didn’t make sense because they weren’t on the ground floor. (Think about all those balcony scenes.) They then changed the numbers to 20 and 19 instead. Did you notice?
COURTENEY COX’S PREGNANCY WAS NOT WRITTEN INTO THE SHOW
THE CAST TOOK A GROUP TRIP BEFORE THE SHOW AIRED
Before the show aired, director James Burrows took the cast on a trip to Las Vegas because he sensed it would be their “last shot at anonymity. Once the show comes on the air, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded.” He was right.
THE CAST WOULD HUDDLE BEFORE SHOOTING EVERY EPISODE
JENNIFER ANISTON ALMOST LEFT BEFORE THE LAST SEASON
There could not have been a proper season of Friends without one of the six characters, but apparently Jennifer Aniston was considering not returning for the final season. “I had a couple issues that I was dealing with,” she has said. “I wanted it to end when people still loved us and we were on a high. And then I was also feeling like, ‘How much more of Rachel do I have in me?’”
THE CAST WAS THE FIRST TO NEGOTIATE A SALARY AS A GROUP
EVERYONE’S AN ARQUETTE
In homage to Courteney Cox’s marriage to David Arquette, the opening credits of the episode “The One After Vegas” rolled with everyone taking on the name Arquette.
A BIT ABOUT GUNTHER
The Friends have pretty much all kissed each other.
One hard-working Tumblr fan did some serious research on this, confirming that the only two characters who have never locked lips in any way are Monica and Phoebe – everyone else has, if you include off-screen moments and hypothetical ‘what if?’ episodes.
A PARTING MEMENTO
14. JOEY’S MAGNA DOODLE ART BECAME A JOB FOR THE CREW.
Over the years, a few crew members were responsible for drawing on the Magna Doodle on Joey’s door. But in the later seasons, it was primarily a job for Paul Swain, who was the best boy on the electric crew.
The Magna Doodle became one of the show’s stars. It sat right in the middle of Joey’s door, so whenever a character walked through that door, the Magna Doodle was prominently displayed. Fans became obsessed with the drawings. Swain said, “They were looking for hidden meanings being given through the Magna Doodle.” You can read descriptions of every Magna Doodle drawing that appeared on the show on this Friends fansite.
THEIR CHARACTERS MAY HAVE, BUT THE ACTORS DIDN’T ALWAYS PLAY WELL WITH ANIMALS.
COX AND MATTHEW PERRY CONFRONTED JUDD NELSON ON A NEARBY SOUNDSTAGE ABOUT AN ON-SET BET.
While promoting the show on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Cox told the story of an elaborate bet between her and Perry that later involved the major ’80s star. “One day I was on the set, and I was sitting around, reciting this line, like, doing this imitation of Anthony Michael Hall,” she told Leno. “He has this line in a movie. The line is, ‘Chicks cannot hold their smoke, that’s what it is.’ And Matthew Perry walks over to me and very adamantly says, ‘Oh, Weird Science.’ And I said, ‘No, Matthew, that’s The Breakfast Club.’ And he was 100 percent sure that it was Weird Science and I was 100 percent sure it was The Breakfast Club.” More and more crew members got involved in the debate and the stakes kept rising. “We realized that Judd Nelson was over on stage 29, doing Suddenly Susan,” said Cox. “So, we ran over there and found out that yes, indeed, it was The Breakfast Club.” As for the bet, once Cox finishes telling her story to Leno, she rings a bell and Perry brings her a tissue. She tells Leno that Perry has five more months of being her “man slave.”
BRUCE WILLIS APPEARED ON THE SHOW FOR FREE AFTER LOSING A BET TO PERRY.
FOR “THE ONE WITH THE DOLLHOUSE,” THE PROPS DEPARTMENT HAD TO MAKE SIX DIFFERENT CARDBOARD DOLLHOUSES.
In the season three episode, Phoebe makes a dollhouse out of cardboard. But the dollhouse ends up catching on fire, which meant six identical ones had to be created from scratch. And in true television deadline fashion, they were put together in three days. The Friends props master, Marjorie Coster, described it as the “pièce de résistance” of the department.
IN “THE ONE WHERE OLD YELLER DIES,” A FEW TAKES WERE MESSED UP THANKS TO A CHATTY KID.
MATTHEW PERRY STRUGGLED WITH ADDICTION DURING PRODUCTION.
In 1997, Perry went to rehab for an addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol. He went again in 2001. He later told People, “I was never high at work. I was painfully hung over. Then eventually things got so bad I couldn’t hide it and everybody knew.”
A (REAL) REUNION ISN’T HAPPENING.
Back in April, Cox went on the Late Show with David Letterman where he asked her about the possibility of a reunion. Cox responded, “It’s not going to happen.” She went on to explain that it’s difficult enough for the six of them to get together for a cast dinner, let alone a full-fledged reunion. Kauffman and Crane have similar views about a reunion. In a 2014 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Crane said, “People say they want it, and the more that we say it’s a bad idea, people . But I think if we actually gave it to people, there would be such backlash.” This Jimmy Kimmel segment from August may be as close as we’re going to get: