Friends is one of those shows that won't be forgotten anytime soon. Along with likes of Seinfeld, the hit-series holds a special place in peoples' hearts- and for good reason. But while the series has long finished, fans continue to get their fix by watching countless re-runs and discovering new things about the show years on from its last episode.
In fact, the cast of Friends had many on-set secrets that weren't revealed until after the show finished, and after reading this article, we're sure you'll watch Friends in an entirely different light. From secret pregnancies to body doubles, the Friends cast was far from boring!
Here, we take a look at 11 Friends secrets that even ardent fans probably weren't aware of.
1. The actors who were almost cast
The characters on Friends had a great rapport and chemistry with one another, and it's hard to imagine anyone else in the roles, but at one time, many different actors were almost cast. The part of Chandler, for instance, almost went to Craig Bierko which was confirmed by NBC's Executive VP of Prime-Time Programming."We kind of talked Craig Bierko out of being in Friends. Ultimately, he made his own decision, sort of. He took another pilot where he could be the lead and the only star."
Other well-known thespians linked to roles included Nancy McKeon for the character of Monica, who was intially supposed to be the mean one in the group. In fact, David Schwimmer was the only actor who didn't have to fend off competition as the part of Ross was written specifically for him. However, the biggest actress who could have appeared in Friends was Kathy Griffin, who came close to playing the ditzy blonde, Phoebe.
2. The hugging ritual
It seems rather apt that the show was called Friends considering all cast members got along and were friends off-set. And while they may not see each other as much as fans would like, fans can rest assured that if a movie ever were to be made, the on-set chemistry would remain strong. This bond was proven time and time again when all six members would gather in a circle and motivate each other before a studio performance. As always, they would end the huddle by exclaiming, "Have a good show".
This incredible kinship made the cast feel like family, and it made David Schwimmer very emotional shortly before the final episode "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."
3. Chandler's sexuality
Though Chandler eventually fell for Monica, fans long speculated (and still do) that Chandler batted for the male team instead. When he was with his best friend Joey, for instance, viewers often speculated as to whether his close ties with Joey were deliberate to highlight the coming out process. Loren Javier, director of information for GLAAD, believed that this rumor wasn't as farfetched as many might have you believe. "Sure, there are all the little clues, the little in-jokes about his sexuality. And since the coming-out process is often a long one, it wouldn’t be insane for Chandler to realize he’s gay. Many gay people see Friends [which recently showcased the lesbian commitment ceremony of Ross’ ex-wife] as the kind of show something like that could happen on.”
However, executive producer David Crane quickly dismissed these fan theories. "It's not like he has a choice, he either is or isn't." That said, Lisa Kudrow initially presumed the character of Chandler was gay after reading just two pages of the first script!
4. Bad hair day, Jen?
For a lot of teenage boys, Jennifer Aniston was probably their first celebrity crush, but despite her burgeoning male fanbase, and increased stardom, the Friends actress wasn't much of a fan of her 90s bob.
The hairstyle was even nicknamed "The Rachel", but in retrospect, Aniston regrets rocking the groovy hairstyle. Speaking in 2011, she said, "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."
5. A 10th season almost didn't happen
As is the competitive nature of American tv, it is often considered a success if a show gets renewed for a second season, so the fact that Friends lasted an astonishing 10 seasons is a big deal and will likely never be seen again. But unbeknownst to many, the tenth season was touch and go due to the cast and crew worrying that the show would overstay its welcome. This was echoed by one of the creators who said, "It took us a while to get onboard with the idea of season 10. We had to really sort of examine what stories we have left to tell that would justify coming back. I'm glad we did because I really liked this season a lot. But you don't want to overstay your welcome."
However, star power also played a role. By season 10, Aniston was the breakout star, and with her movie career already established, she appeared to have had had enough. "I had a couple issues that I was dealing with, 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?'"
6. The Joey & Rachel storyline wasn't popular with the cast
Joey and Rachel pairing up was super weird, don't you agree? Many fans and cast members (including the LeBlanc and Aniston) believed it wasn't believable due to their platonic ties, and Matt LeBlanc even said that it felt like he was dating his sister. "It felt wildly inappropriate," he said in an interview. "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.'"
7. Matthew Perry can't remember filming 3 seasons of the show
Following the show's success, Matthew Perry battled some serious drug problems which lasted for at least 3 seasons of Friends. After receiving treatment, he admitted that that period of his life was a blur, so much so that he can't remember filming anything between seasons 3-6.
"I had a big problem with [substance abuse], and I couldn’t stop," he admitted. "Eventually, things got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, and then everybody knew....I’m a pretty private person, but I was on a TV show that 30 million people were watching, so people knew. It was so public what was happening to me.”
Now clean, Matthew Perry has turned his life around and even uses his mansion as a place to help addicts get clean.
8. Matt Le Blanc had just $11 to his name before being cast as Joey
Now worth a cool $60m, Matt Le Blanc never has to work another day in his life, but before being cast in Friends, Le Blanc was on the verge of poverty. "When it came my way, it was my fourth TV series - and the other three had failed," Le Blanc explained in an interview, when talking about his early carreer. "I had exactly $11 in my pocket the day I was hired. I had to go back and read for the part of Joey a total of six times. It was far from certain I would get the role."
9. Unscripted comedy
Filming Friends was unconventional, and it's part of what made it a winning formula. Typically, filming one episode would last up to six hours as the writers would evaluate a scene and then work together to see if they could write a better joke.
Explaining this in more detail, Matt LeBlanc said, "On show night we'll do the first pass of a scene, and if something doesn't pop really great, they'll all huddle together and they really rack their brains and take as much time as it takes to come up with something that scores better or that makes more sense or that's clearer or drives the story better. You know what I mean? They're tireless. And they're great. And they're passionate about what they do, and it makes our jobs, the actors', incredibly easier."
10. Seinfeld, anyone?
Arguably the only show to prove more popular in its cultural legacy, Seinfeld remains the best show around, at least to industry players and its fans, but Friends and Seinfeld shared many similarities. Both were shows fundamentally about nothing aside from strong friendships, yet people related to the characters, and with good jokes and excellent casting, viewers didn't mind what the storyline was, so long as the characters were likeable and funny.
The writers, producers and directors even went as far as to analyze past Seinfeld episodes to gain valuable insight into the writing and comedy.
11. Monica and Pheobe were both pregnant during filming
Friends was smart in that it used the cast's real-life pregnancies and injuries to their advantage by playing them out in the show. However, this proved impossible when Courtney Cox became pregnant at the same period her character was struggling to conceive. This meant the crew had to hide Courtney Cox's pregnancy during the filming of that particular season. When Lisa Kudrow became pregnant, however, writers had enough time to create a story of her being a surrogate for her brother.
Another example of this was a scene where Joey injured his shoulder while jumping on the bed. When he fell he injured his shoulder in real life. Speaking about the ironic moment, he said, "I remember, as Joey jumping on the bed. Yeah, but get this... the audience was full of Diet Coke contest winners flown in from all over the country, and I did two scenes, popped my shoulder, and they had to cancel it. So they all got flown home and then flown back for another week. So it cost Coca-Cola a lot more than they anticipated. What are you going to do?"