There never was a sitcom this hilarious before Friends, and while funnier stuff may have come after, none of it was held together by the magic that the cast of six managed to create. The very first episode got us hooked when the door of Central Perk jingles to let a bedraggled Rachel in (who just dumped her fiancé at the altar), right on the cue of Ross lamenting that he just wants to be married.
Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Mathew Perry, David Schwimmer and Matt Le Blanc – or rather Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, and Joey, as we got to know and love them – made TV screens light up with their antics, and moved us with their earnest naiveté as well. The series was cute and funny, moving and hilarious and made us all want to up and go and live in Manhattan – more for the Central Perk than the Park. But like it is with all good things, the series too came to a natural end, with the six moving out to get coffee (what else) and the camera panning to the empty room with just a bunch of keys on a table. While the show was fun while it lasted and funny enough to still watch, the cast of Friends has not fared as well as the series itself. And in case you didn’t believe us, here’s proof that the gangs from Friends have been aging not so nicely.
Courtney Cox was actually chosen to play Rachel and it was Jennifer who auditioned for the role of Monica – and while they got the roles the writers envisioned them in – they switched to be the Monica and Rachel we all remember. And Courtney Cox, born June 15, 1964, fit Monica to a tee perfectly. She began her career as the girl who was pulled onstage to dance with Bruce Springsteen in his song “Dancing in the Dark” way back in 1984 but Friends, her biggest role to date, came along a decade later when she was 30. At the time she joined Friends, she was the most famous of them all… Conversely, Courteney Cox is the only regular cast member who never got an Emmy nomination for the show. This goes on to say something about the Emmys, right? And funnily enough, before the show was cast, Monica and Joey were to be the central couple – not Monica and Chandler.
Once a fresh-faced hottie, Courtney now looks nothing like Monica. Her face has definitely changed and signs of enhancement are clear and present. She does admit that playing around with these enhancements is a definite regret she’s had and aging naturally would have been a better choice for her. And we agree Courtney was the prettiest young thing back in the day, though her life has been slightly choppy every now and then. However, in the history of all Hollywood divorces, Courtney and David Arquette had the most peaceable one when they announced they were separating after 11 years of marriage in 2010. Oddly enough, the divorce was ultimately settled in June 2013 and the couple has since remained completely pleasant and committed to raising their only daughter, Coco. This goes on to prove that there is some good left in the world, or at least in the Friends' world…
Rachel is shown to be quirky, slightly naive but good at her job. She is the kind of girl who wants to marry for love and not just into a rich family. This is the reason she dumps her philandering fiancé at the altar and runs to get help from Monica, her childhood friend, considering her father had cut off all her funds. She starts out by supporting herself as a waitress at Central Perk and slowly moves on to get her dream job in fashion. And this is mostly how young Young Jennifer Aniston started out in Hollywood. She was born on February 11, 1969, to Days of Our Lives actor John Aniston and Beverly Hillbillies actress Nancy Dow. When she was cast in the series, Aniston was at a career low and her casting as Rachel Green basically revived her career. But that wasn’t enough for her to invite the full cast to her second marriage to Justin Theroux. While Courtney and Lisa were on the guest list, the three guys – Matt, Matthew, and David were left off.
For a while, it seemed like Jen was the girl on top of the world – beautiful, vivacious, and successful. And married to Hollywood’s iconic Brad Pitt! But then Friends ended in 2004 and a year after, so did that fairytale wedding. To say that Jen was shattered by Brad’s closeness to Angelina Jolie would be an understatement. And that brought about a slight change in her appearance – though she is actually one of the few actresses who is aging gracefully, and has embraced health and fitness rather than getting work done as an option. However, she was also estranged from her mother for a long time, who was not invited to her second wedding to Justin Theroux as well. “She was very critical of me," Aniston said of Dow, "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…”
If you remember Chazz Russell from the 80s series Second Chance (later branded as Boys Will Be Boys), you just remembered a very cute, fresh-faced Matthew Perry. He was born August 19, 1969, to Suzanne Marie Morrison, a Canadian journalist (and former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau) and actor and model John Bennett Perry. He started acting as a teen. Despite getting plenty of accolades for Friends, Perry was the only one who missed the much-hyped 2016 reunion where the six were to get together to honor the career of director James Burrow. But Perry just couldn’t get away from rehearsals for a play in London, though he did tape a message for Burrows that aired during the program. That said, his reason for his absence was real, and made the reunion less than what it could have been. In fact, his taped message also had a strange vibe to it.
Despite his very successful and popular stint as Chandler Bing in Friends, Matthew Perry doesn’t remember almost three seasons of the series because he was mostly high at the time. In an interview, Perry was asked to reveal his least favorite of the episodes. He went on to shock fans when he claimed that his addictions caused him to forget filming three years of Friends. "I think the answer is, I don't remember three years of it. So none of those… somewhere between season three and six." Admirably, He has been vocal about his battles with addiction and seemingly has a big heart, for he received a Champion of Recovery award in May 2013 from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for opening Perry House, a sober living home at his former mansion in Malibu, California.
Born November 2, 1966, David Schwimmer had his first experiences of acting at the age of 10 when he was cast as the fairy godmother in a Jewish version of Cinderella! He almost turned down the role of Ross Geller but something made him take it, and the rest, as they say, is history. There’s a whole sect of Friends fans though, who believed that the storyline of Rachel finally getting back together with Ross was lame, like Ross Gellar himself. Frankly, Schwimmer's personal life is no great shakes per se, except when he decided to demolish a preserved 1852 townhouse and build a completely new one from scratch. His neighbors got so annoyed with the unending construction; they spray painted the words "Ross Is Not Cool" on a nearby fence. Harsh, but perhaps true? Schwimmer didn’t care all that much though and carried on doing his thing like the dork he portrayed.
Schwimmer also voiced the hypochondriac giraffe in the Madagascar franchise and was also lauded for playing the protagonist in Duane Hopwood, shown to be an alcoholic looking to turn his life around after a divorce. His performance in the independent film received rave reviews from the critics. In 2007, Schwimmer began to date Zoe Buckman, a British artist 21 years his junior. A marriage and a daughter later, the couple is “taking some time apart” in 2017. However, 2017 has seen a few magazines make claims about David and Jennifer Aniston’s “secret hook-ups.” While all this may come back to haunt these publications for lack of veracity, Ross and Rachel did share an unmatchable chemistry all through the show and perhaps it’s only natural for some flirtation to carry over to the real life as well. Meanwhile, Jennifer is married to Justin Theroux, though 2018 is the year many are predicting they just might split up!
Lisa Kudrow was born June 30, 1963. Her mother was a travel agent, and her father was a physician who specialized in the treatment of headaches. In fact, she herself meant to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor who specialized in headaches before she was bitten by the acting bug. One of the stranger plots to swallow is Phoebe’s belief that a cat is her dead mother, reincarnated. Why was this plot line even allowed? Well, rumor has it that the idea was pitched by co-creator Marta Kauffman soon after the death of her own mother. It should have been shot down then and there but at the time, nobody felt comfortable saying no and so in it went. Also, Phoebe was first imagined as a goth girl and the role was offered to Janeane Garofalo, who passed on it. And so Lisa Kudrow became the lovable goofball who sang as badly as she played the guitar!
The oldest of the six friends, Lisa Kudrow played Phoebe to perfection, being zany and zanier in turns. Season 4 and 5 showed Phoebe having triplets as a surrogate mother for her brother Frank and his wife Alice because they were not able to have children – but she was pregnant in real life and this was written in the script. In fact, her fluency in French was also written into Phoebe's character when she struggled to teach Joey, unsuccessfully, the nuances of this language. In fact, one of the plot lines that never came through was when Lisa and Matt suggested to the writers that it be revealed the pair had been occasionally hooking up for years. The idea was shot down for being out-of-step with the show's tone, but it really would have made a whole lot of sense for both characters. Somehow thinking about it even now, long after the series ended, makes it appealing all the more.
Matt LeBlanc was born to parents Patricia, an office manager, and Paul LeBlanc, a mechanic on July 25, 1967, and from very early on, his good looks ensured that he would soon be on TV. After doing commercials for Heinz, Coca-Cola, Levis and more, he landed the role of Vinnie Verducci, the boyfriend of Al’s daughter on the Fox sitcom, Married… with children. In 2014 he let it slip that that he's been arrested multiple times in the past for DUIs: "Twice, I think. I was young and stupid. I wasn't driving fast, just crooked. The press never got hold of the mugshots. I was lucky.” That's true, Matt, but fans didn’t particularly care for how he dumped his wife Melissa when he filed for divorce in 2006. Sources say that Melissa was blindsided by the divorce and hoped for a reconciliation but LeBlanc was already “dating” his Joey co-star, Andrea Anders by then and had long moved on…
LeBlanc not only found success in the role of Joey Tribbiani on Friends, he was the only cast member to play this character for 12 years – 10 seasons of Friends and two seasons of Joey, since he got his very own spin-off. Joey roughly picks up where Friends left off, with Joey at the beginning of the show making a move from New York to Los Angeles to carry on ahead with his acting career. As usual, he is constantly talking about food or eating sandwiches or pizza, or women, or lack of roles. The series carried on for two years but soon was pulled off due to low ratings. The show’s creator, Kevin S Bright said, “On Friends, Joey was a womanizer, but we enjoyed his exploits. He was a solid friend, a guy you knew you could count on. Joey was deconstructed to be a guy who couldn't get a job, couldn't ask a girl out. He became a pathetic, mopey character. I felt he was moving in the wrong direction, but I was not heard.”
Originally, Kauffman and Crane began developing Friends under the title Insomnia Cafe between November and December 1993. They presented the idea to Bright, and together they pitched the show to NBC. After several script rewrites and changes, including a title change to Six of One and Friends Like Us, the series was finally named Friends. Once all the six had been cast, the director James Burrow gave them one solid warning: "Once the show comes on the air, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded." So the gang who wasn't yet famous headed to Caesars Palace for an impromptu holiday, a location which later became central to Friends' Vegas-centric episodes. Another interesting tidbit is that the only two characters who have never locked lips in any way on the show are Monica and Phoebe – everyone else has kissed when you count all the off-screen moments and the hypothetical "what if?" episodes that mostly came from Joey's imagination.
The ending of this 10-year long series was as satisfying as the rest of the series – though with Rachel coming back to Ross, it did seem like an effort to tie up loose strings and ends and neatly wrap up a severance package for the viewers. So the six end up taking one long look at what was now Chandler and Monica’s apartment, now devoid of all furniture and trinkets that had once made it everyone’s favorite hangout place… And the group move out to get some coffee, the camera pans back to the empty apartment, gently feathering the counter with six lonesome keys out. It’s a befitting end to a series that made us believe that the six were actually pals – and when they take a bow in front of the live audience, that’s the way you want to remember the six actors. While they were all shown to be 20-somethings, most of them were already 30 or near it when the show started.
In 2016, the cast got back together onstage to honor and celebrate Jim Burrows – but there were five on the stage, since Matthew Perry was in London doing a play. The audience, casts and members of other sitcoms cheered as the five made their way on stage and fumbled around their seating until Joey finally yanked Rachel beside him. Somehow, seeing the five minus Perry, unraveled it all for the audience. They all looked old, and mildly uncomfortable in each other’s presence. Though they managed to crack a few jokes and audience clearly found them a riot, this time the five looked exactly what they were – five actors reminiscing about roles that had made them famous minus the on-set camaraderie that had made this sitcom such a must-watch for nearly all of the world. And with Perry missing, it’s all the more strange to imagine that originally, Friends was going to focus on Monica, Rachel, Ross, and Joey, with Phoebe and Chandler as supporting characters.