Friends had no shortage of huge celebrity guest stars and appearances over the duration on its 10 seasons; Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts, to name just a few. However, there have also been many appearances from stars who acted in the show before they had their big break, or were famous in their own right. Yes, these stars were not appearing in the show due to their fame, but instead in an attempt to make them famous. Friends, being the biggest show on television at the time, was an excellent platform for actors to get themselves noticed, or at least, an extremely impressive addition to their resume.
After their roles on the show, the stars on this list were lucky enough to continue on successfully with their acting careers. Some went on to become movie stars while others ended up starring in their own successful TV shows. This list will take a look at the specific episodes in which these now-famous stars popped up along with the parts they played. You may find it interesting to see these actors in the early days of their careers or may even be surprised that you never noticed them in the show before…
16 Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson’s part in Friends may have gone unnoticed by many due to how brief his moment on screen was. The actor made his appearance in the season 10 episode, ‘The One with Princess Consuela’ as an office clerk Phoebe talks to about wanting to change her name. As many know, Robinson went on to have great success with his part in the hit NBC comedy The Office. The actor played the part of warehouse foreman Daryl Philbin from the years 2005-2013. Robinson has also had movie success due to his roles in Hot Tub Time Machine, Miss March and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Robinson also co-starred in movies with Friends recurring guest star Paul Rudd; these movies include Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin and This Is the End.
15 Dan Bucatinsky
Dan Bucatinsky appears in ‘The One with Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner.’ The actor plays the part of a less than pleased waiter as he tries to deal with the chaos of Phoebe’s birthday dinner. The actor has had great success since this point. In 2005, Bucatinsky teamed up with Friends star Lisa Kudrow when they not only produced but acted in HBO series, The Comeback. The pair once again reunited in 2008 to produce and act in the web series, Web Therapy. Bucatinsky’s most notable performance to date is his work in the drama series Scandal. In 2013, Bucatinsky won an Emmy award for his portrayal of journalist James Novak in the hit show.
14 Mark Consuelos
Mark Consuelos plays the part of a police officer in the season 7 episode ‘The One with Chandler’s Dad.' After Rachel learns that she is the only member of the gang who is not allowed to drive Monica’s Porsche, due to her bad driving, she steals the keys from Ross. In a panic, Ross jumps in the car only to learn that Rachel’s license has expired. After being pulled over by Consuelos’ character for speeding, Rachel asks Ross to switch places with her, but he refuses. Nevertheless, Rachel is able to charm her way out of getting a ticket due to her flirting with the police officer. After his appearance on the show, Consuelos went on to appear in movies such as My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Wedding Daze and Cop Out. The star also had a recurring role in the second season of the cult horror show, American Horror Story.
13 Mae Whitman
Mae Whitman made her appearance in Friends when she was just 8 years old. The actress appeared in the season 3 episode ‘The One Where Rachel Quits.’ Whitman’s character plays a little girl whose leg Ross accidentally breaks. Feeling guilty, Ross tries to sell 400 boxes of cookies so Whitman’s character will win a competition. The same year that the actress appeared in this episode, she also appeared in two movies; Independence Day in which she played the president’s daughter, and One Fine Day, where she played George Clooney’s daughter. In the 2000s Whitman took on a number of TV roles, most notably her recurring role on Arrested Development. In 2010, Whitman became a series regular on NBC’S Parenthood. The actress has also had movie success due to her role in 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and comedy movie The Duff, released in 2015.
12 Christine Taylor
Christine Taylor made her debut in the season 3 episode ‘The One with the Fighting Champion’ as Bonnie, a woman Ross is dating. Taylor appeared in the 3 episodes of the show with her final appearance being in ‘The One with the Jellyfish.’ Bonnie and Ross break up thanks to Rachel’s meddling; having recently discovered she wishes to get back with Ross, Rachel goes to extreme lengths to break the couple up. This subsequently leads to Rachel convincing Bonnie to shave her head. After her time on the show, Taylor went on to appear in a number of movies alongside her husband Ben Stiller, including Tropic Thunder, Dodgeball and Zoolander 2.
11 Rebecca Romijn
Rebecca Romijn appears in the season 4 episode ‘The One with the Dirty Girl.’ Romijn plays the part of Cheryl, a girl Ross is dating who appears to be perfect, at least that is until he sees her apartment. Cheryl turns out to have the messiest apartment ever; after killing some type of creature Ross is alarmed it may be Cheryl’s hamster, yet he still somehow manages to be relieved when he realizes it’s just a rat. Moving on from her appearance in Friends, Romijn had success playing the part of shape-shifter Mystique in the X-Men movies (you probably didn’t recognize her under all that blue make-up). Apart from this, Romijn had a recurring role as Alexis Meade on the TV series Ugly Betty. The actress is currently playing the part of Eve Baird in The Liberians, a show that is a spin-off to the Liberian film series.
10 Steve Zahn
Steve Zahn (left) can be found in the season 2 episode titled ‘The One with Phoebe’s Husband.’ Zahn plays the part of Duncan, a gay Canadian ice-dancer Phoebe previously married in order for him to secure a green card. The fact that Phoebe didn’t tell the rest of the gang that she has been married for the last six years, leads Monica to get mad. This ultimately leads to the entire gang yelling out each other’s secrets in a scene that leads to hilarious television. Moving on from his part on the show, Zahn had success starring in a number of movies such as That Thing You Do!, You’ve Got Mail, Reality Bites, Forces of Nature, Riding in Cars with Boys and Daddy Day Care. Zahn also teamed up with Friends star Jennifer Aniston for the movie Management, released in 2008.
9 Emily Osment
Emily Osment plays the part of a young trick-or-treater in the season 8 episode of Friends titled, ‘The One with The Halloween Party.’ Osment, is one of many trick-or-treaters who comes to the door of a Halloween Party being held by Monica and Chandler. Rachel, having recently found out she’s pregnant with Emma, takes on the job of handing out candy to the children, including Osment’s character. The year following her appearance in the sitcom, the actress made her movie debut in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams. Osment played the part of Gerti Giggles, a role in which she reprised for the final installment of the series Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. Osment is most famous for her portrayal of Lilly Truscott in the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana. The show which starred Miley Cyrus was record breaking for the Disney Channel, with the series premier securing 5.4 million viewers.
8 Paget Brewster
Paget Brewster made her first appearance in ‘The One with Joey’s New Girlfriend’, as Kathy a woman who becomes caught up in a love triangle with Chandler and Joey. Brewster was a recurring character throughout the fourth season of the show and appeared in numerous episodes. The actress is said to have gotten along so well with her castmates on the show that the female characters asked writers for Brewster’s storyline, regarding her departure to be changed. Brewster’s character departed the show after she cheated on Chandler, however, her castmates asked if her reason for leaving could be altered. Since her appearance in Friends, Brewster has gone on to become one of the leading stars of the CBS show Criminal Minds. Brewster plays the part of Special Agent Emily Prentiss and has appeared in the show since it premiered in 2005.
7 Leah Remini
Not many people know but in 1994, Leah Remini actually auditioned for the part of Monica Geller on Friends (just think of how different things would have been if the actress had gotten the part). Although the role later went to Courtney Cox, this did not discourage Remini from making an appearance in the 1995 episode ‘The One with the Birth.’ The gang are all gathered at the hospital for the birth of Ross’ son Ben; Remini plays the part of a pregnant woman whom Joey ends up accompanying through labor. After her stint on the show, Remini went on to have her own very successful sitcom, The King of Queens in which she co-starred alongside Kevin James. The show was a huge hit with audiences and spanned nine seasons until its conclusion in 2007.
6 Jim Rash
Jim Rash made an appearance in the final ever episode of Friends ‘The Last One’, as a nervous airplane passenger seated next to Rachel on the plane. Rash’s character can be seen listening into Rachel’s phone call from Phoebe, who is telling her that there is something wrong with the plane’s ‘Left Phalange.’ Of course, Phoebe is doing this in an attempt to stop Rachel from leaving before Ross gets to the airport. However, Rash’s character hearing this causes havoc on the plane, causing all the plane’s passengers to get off. Since this point, Rash has had a hugely successful career. The actor played the part of Dean Craig Pelton in the NBC sitcom Community. In 2012 Rash won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film The Descendants which starred George Clooney.
5 Kristin Davis
Kristin Davis appeared in the season 7 episode ‘The One with Ross’s Library Book.’ Davis plays the part of a woman that Monica and Rachel set Joey up with; although Joey is really into her, she just doesn’t feel the same. At the time of Davis’ appearance in Friends, she was already beginning to make a name for herself due to her portrayal of Charlotte in Sex and the City. In the years following, Sex and the City became a huge hit with audiences and Davis, along with her fellow castmates, was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award in 2004 due to their tremendous performances. Davis reprised her portrayal of Charlotte for both Sex and The City movies. The actress has also taken on parts in movies such as The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Deck the Halls and Couples Retreat.
4 Cole Sprouse
Prior to starring on hit Disney show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Cole Sprouse could be found appearing in Friends. The actor appeared in numerous episodes as Ben, Ross’ son from his first marriage to Carol. In the early seasons the part of Ben is played by a couple of different actors but between seasons 6-8, Sprouse could be found taking on the role. This role was not the first big part for Sprouse; in 1999 the actor (alongside his twin brother Dylan) played the part of a 5-year-old boy in Adam Sandler’s hit comedy Big Daddy. However, it was in the years after his appearance on Friends that Cole Sprouse found himself being catapulted to fame. Once again acting with his brother Dylan, the actors portrayed identical twins Zack and Cody Martin in the Disney Channel original series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Between the years 2011-2015, the pair both took time out from the acting world to study at New York University. Both brothers have spoken out about how they wish to pursue acting careers moving forward.
3 Anna Faris
Anna Faris appeared in four episodes of the final season of Friends; the actress first appeared in the episode ‘The One with the Birth Mother’ and made her final appearance in the penultimate episode 'The Last One: Part 1.’ Faris plays the part of Erica, the birth mother of the baby Chandler and Monica are going to adopt. Around the time of her appearance on Friends, Faris’ fame was constantly on the rise due to her role in comedy movies such as the Scary Movie franchise and The Hot Chick. Faris continued on with similar movies roles including Just Friends, The House Bunny, What’s Your Number? and The Dictator. Currently, Faris can be found starring in hit CBS comedy Mom.
2 Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning played the part of Makenzie in the episode ‘The One with Princess Consuela’. Fanning, who was just 10 at time of her appearance on the show plays a young girl who tries to help Joey come to terms with the fact that Monica and Chandler are leaving New York City, to move to the suburbs. Fanning had previous acting success before her appearance in Friends due to her performance in the 2001 movie I am Sam; this role earned Fanning a Screen Actors Guild Award when she was just 8 years old, making her the youngest actress in history to be win this award. However, it was the years after the actress appeared on Friends that her career started to take off. Fanning went on to appear in movies such as Man on Fire, War of Worlds and Charlotte’s Web. The star also made a smooth transition into adult roles such as her parts in The Secret Life of Bees, The Runaways and The Twilight Saga.
1 Ellen Pompeo
Long before her days of being life-saving doctor Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo made an appearance on Friends. In fact, the part she played on Friends was one of Pompeo’s first ever acting roles. The actress appears in the season 10 episode ‘The One Where the Stripper Cries.’ Pompeo plays the part of Missy Goldberg in flashback scenes of Ross and Chandler’s college days. Since her appearance on Friends, Pompeo has had huge success due to her leading role in Grey’s Anatomy, a show which is currently filming for its thirteenth season. Pompeo has received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and The Screen Actors Guild Award due to her work on Grey's Anatomy.