The concept for this sitcom was simple. Six young singles navigating the concrete jungle of New York City, as they struggle with relationships and their careers, all with a comedic twist.
Friends became an extraordinary success, running for ten seasons between 1994 and 2004. By the end of its run, it had gathered an amazing 62 Emmy nominations, and the series finale was the most watched television episode of the 2000s. Thanks to the success of the show, the six main cast members were thrown headfirst into the public spotlight.
But the problem with this newfound fame and fortune was that it became difficult for the cast to keep things private. Both during the show’s run and in the thirteen years since, some of the darker secrets of the Friends gang has surfaced – and we’ve gathered some of them for you to read.
Which cast member had an awkward encounter with a stripper and nearly got sued for it? Why can’t Matthew Perry remember three years of the show’s production? And did any of them ever sleep together? Read on to find out.
15. They All Went To Vegas Together Before They Were Famous
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – unless you’re rich and famous, in which case it gets plastered across the press. It must also be much more difficult to have a good time when you’re constantly drawing the attention of fans as well as the paparazzi.
It’s for this reason that director James Burrows took the six young cast members of his new show Friends on a trip to Vegas before the premiere of the first season. Predicting that the show would become a hit, he wanted them to enjoy their last chance at anonymity. Burrows ate with them in Caesar’s Palace and then sent them off into the casinos.
We’ll never know for sure what went down on that trip – and that was the whole point of it – but we assume nothing quite as dramatic as the shotgun wedding that took place when their characters went to Vegas in Season 5. Either way, Burrows’ prediction proved correct, and the six friends were soon unable to avoid the public eye.
14. Matt LeBlanc Was Arrested For Drunk-Driving… Twice
Matt LeBlanc’s most famous post-Joey role is that of a heightened version of himself in sitcom Episodes, and in the third season of this, fictionalized Matt gets arrested for driving his kids to Disneyland after having a few too many.
But in a 2014 interview, LeBlanc admitted in his younger days, he really was arrested for driving under the influence – more than once. “Twice, I think. When I was young and stupid. I wasn’t driving fast, just crooked. The press never got hold of the mugshots. I was lucky.” Lucky for it not to get in the press, and lucky he was stopped before he hit something…
Thankfully since then, Matt’s cleaned up his act. However, he’s still causing problems behind the wheel as the new host of driving show Top Gear – a stunt he did last year driving donuts around London’s Cenotaph war memorial was criticized by many as disrespectful.
13. Jennifer Aniston Really Hates Her Mother
The character of Rachel Green had a strained relationship with her mother, but in real life, Jennifer Aniston had it much worse. Her parents split up when she was just nine years old, and afterwards she lived with her mom Nancy Dow, a model . It was a difficult upbringing, with Dow constantly demeaning Jen and holding petty grudges.
“She was very critical of me,” Jen revealed in 2015, “Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn’t. I never was. I honestly still don’t think of myself in that sort of light, which is fine. She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty.”
Things only got worse when Jen was grown up, with Dow publishing a tell-all memoir, Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir, in 1999. This led to mother and daughter barely speaking to each other for over a decade. Nancy wasn’t invited to Jen’s weddings and Jen was left out of Nancy’s will. They started to reconcile in the 2010s, as Dow’s health was worsening, and Jen attended her mother’s funeral after she sadly passed away in 2016.
12. Courteney Cox Stopped Cougar Town Filming For Unknown Reasons
Five years after last portraying the character Monica, Courteney Cox landed a starring role – and an executive producer credit – in ABC’s sitcom Cougar Town, in which she plays a recently divorced mom in her 40s.
But in November 2009, Cox called off the show’s production for a week due to what her representatives described as a “private family matter”, with the exact details of that a mystery. However, almost a year later, in October 2010, Cox did announce she’d separated from her husband David Arquette. This divorce was never finalized until 2013, and the couple have always seemed to be on friendly terms, but we don’t know just how far back the rift in their marriage went, or whether it was related to what happened on Cougar Town.
11. Matthew Perry’s Struggles With Addiction
The filming of Friends may have been a happy time for much of the cast, but for Matthew Perry, it was plagued by a constant struggle with both alcohol and pills, including two trips to rehab.
“From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism,” Perry admitted. He went on to explain: “I was never high at work. I was painfully hungover. Then eventually things got so bad I couldn’t hide it and everybody knew.”
Most shockingly, Perry struggles to remember three whole years of production from when Friends was at its peak. When asked by BBC Radio to recount his least favourite episode, he replied: “I think the answer is, I don’t remember three years of it. So none of those … somewhere between Season 3 and 6.”
This story has a happy ending though – Perry’s now sober and working hard to help other people with similar problems. He opened a facility to help former addicts transition from rehab back to normal life, and even received a Champion of Recovery award from the White House.
10. Some Of Them May Have Slept With Each Other
When the Friends cast reunited in 2016 for an on-air tribute to veteran director James Burrows, one awkward moment suggested that there may have been some saucy off-air antics between the friends.
Host Andy Cohen asked the ensemble cast whether they ever asked to sign contracts saying that they wouldn’t sleep with each other, which was followed by embarrassed giggles and an awkward silence – and even a commercial break. However, After the break, the cast revealed these rumoured contracts never existed, and David Schwimmer suspiciously said “well, that was broken!”
Annoyingly, the conversation moved swiftly on before we learned exactly who got cozy with whom, but it seems like at least two of the cast were actually Friends with Benefits. To be honest, given that they’re a group of very attractive people who worked closely together for over a decade, we’re hardy surprised, though we’d love to know more.
9. Matt LeBlanc Slapped His Wife With A Divorce
Matt LeBlanc’s marriage to former model Melissa McKnight seemed to be going well at the beginning of 2006. They’d just moved into a new home and their two-year-old daughter, Marina, who had previously suffered from seizures was now a healthy and cheerful kid. But then Matt blindsided Melissa when he moved out and filed for divorce.
McKnight, who hadn’t expected this at all, initially hoped for a reconciliation with her husband, but it didn’t take long for Matt to be seen with another woman. This was Andrea Anders, the actress who played his neighbour and love interest Alex Garrett on Friends spin-off Joey. In fact, his relationship with Anders may have been the cause of his split with Melissa.
While this certainly doesn’t seem like Matt treated Melissa fairly, and the pair remained in contact and shared custody of Marina. Matt’s relationship with Andrea lasted almost a decade, but they too split in January 2015.
8. Matthew Perry Missed A Crucial Friends Reunion…
In January 2016, Friends fans were highly excited by the news that they might get to see all six lead members together for the first time in twelve years, as it was announced that the friends would be reunited as part of NBC’s tribute to director James Burrows.
However, it was always a long shot, with previous efforts to get them together had fallen through. “I’m hoping all six will be in same room at same time; I’m not sure we can logistically pull it off,” NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters.
This proved true, as Matthew Perry’s representatives confirmed the actor was unable to make it due to rehearsals for a play in London. Perry did send a video message that played during the show, but the cast felt incomplete and the whole reunion felt unsatisfying and wrong. You can’t have Friends without all six friends!
7. …But David Schwimmer Didn’t Want A Reunion In The First Place
Previous attempts to get the Friends cast back together had fallen through, and there was always one or more of the cast member who was either busy or reluctant. And while it was Matthew Perry who missed the 2016 reunion, it was in fact David Schwimmer who’d been opposing of the idea.
In a 2015 interview, Courteney Cox was asked why the reunion had never happened. “Let it go! We’re not doing it! It’s just not going to happen. We’ve gotten about 80 percent there, but there’s always one person who flakes at the end,” she answered, before knowingly adding “I’m not going to name names, but it may not be [David] Schwimmer.”
Dammit, David. While we’re sure he had his reasons for avoiding a reunion, it would have been great for the gang to have got back together for a special episode. Maybe in another twelve years, it’ll finally happen.
6. Jennifer Aniston Almost Quit The Final Season
Still, even if it’s impossible to get them back together, we can be thankful all of the Friends cast stayed on board throughout the ten seasons, even as their fame skyrocketed and other work offers must have been coming in from all directions. But this almost wasn’t the case.
By the end of its run, Aniston had become more famous than any of the other five, thanks to starring roles in films like Bruce Almighty and Along Came Polly and to her high-profile marriage to Brad Pitt. This led to her being hesitant to return to the sitcom. “I had a couple issues that I was dealing with,” she explained. “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?”
5. David Schwimmer Tore Down A Historic Building
Like Ross, David Schwimmer doesn’t have the wildest of lives – as far as dark secrets go, he’s no Matt LeBlanc. But he did manage to annoy a lot of his new neighbours when he purchased a historic townhouse in New York’s East Village and proceeded to knock it down.
The property, which dated back to 1852, was under consideration for landmark status, and was protected it under New York City law as a historically important building. But it obviously wasn’t to Schwimmer’s taste, so before that status was made official, he brought in a demolition crew. Schwimmer then built his own six-storey mansion – which apparently looks like an eyesore.
4. Matt LeBlanc’s Weird Encounter With A Stripper
Oh, Matt. This is your third entry on this list. In 2005, LeBlanc recounted an incident at a strip club in Victoria, British Columbia:
“The stripper was all over me. I was drinking, and she was crossing the line,” he said. “She was in my face, pushing her breasts into me and grabbing my hands to go all over her body. She was telling me to caress her and in my head I’m thinking, ‘What’s going on?” He added. This all sounds like an odd reaction, as LeBlanc seems to have been surprised by the fact a stripper gave him a lap dance – which is surely her job. Then again, he was married at the time of the incident, so we can see why he might warrant some sort of backlash.
Making the situation more awkward, the stripper in question then tried to sue LeBlanc for what he told the press about their encounter – this lawsuit was later dropped, but it just made it more embarrassing for him.
3. Lisa Kudrow’s Manager Sued Her For A Lot Of Money
This is one legal battle that a Friends cast member didn’t walk away from easily. After parting ways with her manager Scott Howard in 2007, Lisa Kudrow soon found herself in the midst of a lawsuit over residual payments.
After she parted ways with Howard, he claimed he was owed a portion of the residual fees Kudrow receives for the syndicated episodes of Friends. Anyone who’s watched television in the last decade will know there’s a whole lot of Friends re-runs.
The case somehow went on for six years, but in 2014, Howard finally won out before a Los Angeles jury. Kudrow was forced to pay him $1.6 million. While that’s not much more than she was paid for a single episode of Friends Season 10, it’s not exactly the outcome she wanted.
2. Jen Didn’t Invite Her Cast Mates To Her Wedding
Jennifer Aniston’s 2015 wedding to Justin Theroux was kept top secret, as the couple didn’t want the paparazzi ruining their big day. What’s more of a surprise is the guest list. While Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox were in attendance, Aniston’s other Friends co-stars Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry never received invites.
Reacting to this snub, LeBlanc said: “I think they’re a great couple. I think she’s happy. And that’s all I care about is that Jen’s happy. If she wanted me there, I would have been there,” while Perry added: “It was a surprise to me as well. They’re a lovely couple, and I’m happy for them.”
Both of them seem like they’re cool with not getting to go, but it does sound like Jen’s not as close to her co-stars as she once was, which is undoubtedly a shame for all of us who want to keep on assuming that the Friends gang are a little family of their own.
1. Their Salaries Grew Exponentially Throughout The Seasons
Friends may have started out as a modest enough sitcom, but by the end of its run, it was an international phenomenon, and the cast certainly took advantage of this around the negotiating table. For Season 1, each of the main cast was paid $22,500 per episode, but for the second season, they were paid different salaries, ranging from twenty to forty thousand. This didn’t seem fair given the ensemble nature of the show, so the six actors decided to enter collective negotiations from then on. Each of them was paid $75,000 per episode in Season 3, which had multiplied by ten by the time of Season 7. For the final two seasons, they earned a whopping million dollars each per episode.
Add to this the residuals from all repeat broadcasts, and the future work the actors would never have secured if not for Friends, and it looks to have been a staggeringly lucrative show to have been involved in.