“FRIENDS” debuted in 1994, bringing perpetually quotable catchphrases (how you doin’?), one much-replicated hairdo and six characters whose amusingly relatable misfortunes stick with us 25 years after the fact.
How was it truly being on the hit sitcom? 10 entertainers who acted in the series from time to time shared their experiences.
Christina Applegate as Amy
“There are people who are really self-unaware, and they have absolutely no filter,” Christina Applegate said, describing her “Friends” character.
Applegate showed up on the show’s ninth and tenth seasons as Amy, Rachel’s self-consumed sister, a job for which she won an Emmy in 2003.
The on-screen character said the most entertaining minute from her pair of scenes was the kin’s battle after Amy resents Rachel’s disclosure that Amy wouldn’t be given guardianship of infant Emma in case of Ross and Rachel’s demises.
She added, “I think my favorite line, though, is when I keep saying Lisa’s (Kudrow) name wrong. And then she goes, ‘Phoebe.’ And I say, ‘Why does she keep making that noise?’ That was written as a rewrite in front of the audience, and I thought it was hilarious.”
Applegate told that she and Jennifer Aniston “really bonded” while filming. “We hung out for a while after that, and I really, really do love her.”
Actually, her connections to the remainder of the cast originate before “Friends.”
“I’ve known Matthew Perry since we were kids,” she said. “We did a movie called ‘Dance until Dawn’ together when we were little babies. But I’ve known him for 100 years. (David) Schwimmer’s amazing and Lisa and Courteney (Cox), I’ve known from like, 20-something years prior. It was just a great group, a lot of love there.”
She additionally shared screen time with Matt LeBlanc all alone hit ’90s show.
“He had done a couple guest spots on ‘Married with Children’ many moons before that and then had a spinoff called ‘Top of the Heap’ that he did from our show. So that was his first show.”
A year after her Emmy win for “Friends,” she was again selected for repeating the job in the series last season.
“It was shocking that I was nominated for the episodes I did because it honestly didn’t feel like work,” she said. “And it didn’t feel like I was doing anything special in any way. I was just having so much fun. I really was in shock when that happened. It was one of those moments of, like, ‘why … what, me?’ Like in ‘Sixteen Candles’ when she’s like ‘Me?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, you.’ That’s how I felt when they said my name.”
Favorite memory on set: “Just hanging out with the cast. That was really the best part of the week because they’re just such a great group of people, really fun and funny. And it’s easy and it wasn’t a hard job. It felt like I got to just hang out with a bunch of people and socialize for a couple of days. And then in the middle of it, we shot a show.”
Why “Friends” is so beloved: “I remember talking to Marta (Kauffman) about ‘Friends.’ And this was while we were working on (Applegate’s NBC sitcom) ‘Jesse.’ And she said the stars just aligned. You had these six people who were just the most perfect actors for these parts, relatable, and they’re so funny. And it doesn’t often happen where everything works. Plus, it’s just a great show. It’s got heart, it’s funny.”
Kristin Davis as Erin
Sex and the City” had just wrapped its third season when Kristin Davis appeared on “Friends” as Erin, a woman whom Rachel and Phoebe are more eager for Joey to date than he is.
“I remember losing sleep,” she recalled. “‘Sex and the City’ was in production, but I was nervous to be the tiny character of Erin, losing sleep, partly because of the live audience, but partly because you’re in this world that has been created that is so alive and so specific and you’re trying to make sure you’re fitting yourself in there properly. And I remember, like, ‘Will I set that joke up OK? Will Matt (LeBlanc) be happy? Will I just go blank?’ Things go through your head when you’re in those situations that are heightened like that. Obviously it was the highest of the high at that point.”
Davis was struck by the kinship among the six stars, a considerable lot of whom she definitely knew.
“I think the thing I remember most was the cohesion between the cast and the fact that they were somewhat besieged by the success from the outer world and they had kind of bonded together as a group. That was really great to see, and obviously I learned a lot from that.”
“It was a lot of fun just to be there, to sit on the couch in the coffee shop,” she said. “And ‘E.R.’ was right across the way and I’d also been on ‘E.R.,’ so we got to see them at lunch. It was just a magical feeling and it’s really strange to think that it was that long ago.”
Davis added, “When I was on ‘E.R,’ which was the first season, ‘Friends’ was doing an episode that was one of the iconic episodes, where they played poker. And George (Clooney) and I went over to watch at lunch and we sat up in the stands and watched them rehearse and it was so funny and amazing. And James Burrows was directing, whom I love so much, and to watch that show and then see that show on the air and to see that chemistry that the cast had come together. They were so on it in terms of their voices and their characters and the beats, and they just knew what they were doing, and I remember being blown away by their confidence level and their synergy as a group.”
Favorite memory on set: “I remember watching Lisa Kudrow especially, because she had this very involved storyline that she wanted to work on, and the way that she worked with the writing staff … David Schwimmer was directing, which was also fascinating, and he was obviously a great director and a great actor’s director and a combination of fun and low-key but also the boss, which was amazing to see. But watching Lisa rework her character’s arc or what was happening in that episode was really something that I hadn’t really seen in that way where someone who obviously knew her own power and knew what was right and knew what was funny — because there’s no one funnier than Lisa Kudrow — really went and reworked it in a way that was amazing.”
Why “Friends” is so beloved: “It is brilliant. You know, ‘Friends’ holds up. You can watch it and sure, the hairdos are different — it’s funny to think back at how big the hairdo situation was at the time — but it’s very ‘90s and yet the writing, the acting, it still has everything a classic comedy has, the same way Lucille Ball or Mary Tyler Moore did. As an ensemble, I think that they did something that’s really hard to do. The writers did something that’s really hard to do. It came together in the perfect way at the perfect time. And each one of them was so talented in their own way and the group came together in that magical way that you can never really make happen; it just happens.”
Cole Sprouse as Ben
“I remember at the time feeling quite intimidated,” said Sprouse, who played Ross’ young son, Ben, from 2000 to 2002. “At this point, ‘Friends’ was a very well-oiled machine. And I was quite young. And all the actors were older. But I remember all those worries kind of fading away when the cast was so nice. I was schooling on set when I was there and have a lot of interesting memories about the sort of famous individuals who were filtering around, and hangin’ around backstage. But I had a really wonderful time.”
Sprouse added, “I’m pretty sure I fell in love with Jennifer Aniston, which the whole world had at that point. But I do remember being quite intimidated around her, because of that. I remember blanking on my lines, and having a kind of stage fright when she sat next to me on the couch in one episode. And I remember there was a camera man who was like, ‘Little boy’s got a crush,’ or I forget what they said. Of course, I turned bright red. But I do remember feeling like I fell in love.”
The on-screen character’s preferred scene was the one where Ross dresses as a “vacation armadillo” after he cannot find a Santa Claus suit to shock Ben for Christmas.
“I remember that quite well,” he said. “I was infatuated with the costumes, and the practical effects that they had. That was probably my most memorable thing to shoot.”
Sprouse, who at present stars on “Riverdale” as Jughead, said he gets got some information about “Friends” significantly more since its discharge on Netflix collected a more youthful after.
“With the success of ‘Riverdale,’ people ended up going back and realizing I was on ‘Friends,’ because both shows are on Netflix,” he said. “And they ended up kind of discovering that I was there, which was weird.’Cause I was never really recognized for that, for a long time.”
Why ‘Friends’ is so beloved: “I think it exists within this capsule that shows really couldn’t be made within anymore. I think the nature of film and television has changed so much. And there’s something that still very much resonates with people about ‘Friends,’ and the comedy, and how close the cast was, and just how iconic the entire cast was at the time and still is.”
Jane Sibbett as Carol
“Carol is a woman who followed her own heart,” Sibbett said of Ross’ ex-wife and the mother of his son, Ben. “She was in love with her husband and then she fell in love with a woman. She wasn’t any kind of stereotype. She was just a woman who fully loved.”
Sibbett was offered the job not long after bringing forth her genuine child. “It was a serious exceptional work and I truly had quite recently returned home,” she reviewed. Yet, watching the pilot persuaded her to acknowledge.
“I saw David Schwimmer do the most incredible take,” she said. “I’d never seen anybody do comedy like that. He literally took the longest take with his comedy. I just thought, oh my goodness, I have to work with this man. He is brilliant.”
Sibbett was moved by the entertainer’s presentation in an early scene they partook in the scene “The One with the Candy Hearts.”
“It was the sweetest, sweetest scene and we had to kiss,” she said. “It was so emotional and he made me cry. My eyes welled with tears as we were doing the scene because he was so tender and so loving and just ‘Can we make this work again?’ You know, when you’re in it, the acting kind of dissolves away. And he kissed me and the thought that went through my mind is ‘He’s really sweaty right now,’ ’cause he was so nervous.”
She additionally acknowledges the manner in which the show took care of the dynamic of the Ross-Carol-Susan love triangle, and gets notification from watchers who’ve disclosed to her the storyline gave them the boldness to turn out to relatives.
“We were never poking fun at being gay,” she said. “We were poking fun at a person who didn’t get it, who was uncomfortable with the concept of us being together. And that was the great beauty; the great truth in that the joke’s on the people that don’t get it, that this is all about love.”
Favorite memory on set: “I’d come back from the commissary at Warner Brothers and I came around the corner and I saw Courteney and Jen and Lisa splashing in a puddle. It was raining. They were splashing in the puddle like children and laughing. No one could see them. And literally, it was between sound stages in this little area. I get choked up when I think about it. I said, like, if they could capture that, that’s lightning in a bottle. If they could capture that kind of freedom and that friendship, this show is golden.”
Why “Friends” is so beloved: “Essentially, we still crave family. And now we’re in this distracted generation and this distracted world where everybody’s on their phones and not communicating anymore. And this was all about the family we choose. And I think right now in our world, there’s a lot goin’ down and we all really are craving comedy. We’re all craving family. We’re all craving a lighter time. A friend said this the other day: ‘I’m nostalgic for those days when I wasn’t nostalgic.’ And that’s where we are right now. I just think that we wanna laugh. We wanna come together. We wanna be silly. We wanna fall in love. We wanna be able to choose love and have our friends support us and call us out when we’re being silly and all of that. It touches deep place in our hearts. It’s timeless.”
Jessica Hecht: Susan
“I would describe Susan as somebody who is always true to herself,” Hecht said of Ross’ ex-wife Carol’s longtime partner. “Like, she never went through a phase where she couldn’t stand up for her own identity.”
“I think that was a joy, of playing an iconic gay character, because there was no artifice,” she said. “And also, she’s kind of just a great, funny person. I think she was self-realized in a way that not a lot of people are.”
She added, “I always loved Susan’s line when Ross is looking at the bookshelves and he says, ‘Wow, you got a lot of books about lesbians.’ And I think Susan says, ‘Well, they make you read a lot of books. Otherwise, they don’t let you do it.’”
Hecht joined the cast right off the bat, first showing up in the arrangement’s subsequent scene.
“Nobody was famous yet, so everybody was super nice — not that they ever changed — but I’ve had this brilliant experience of doing a bunch of shows before they became huge successes,” she said. “I had the same experience with ‘Breaking Bad,’ for instance, and there’s something kind of amazing to be there the first day and then the last day.”
“I loved working with David,” she said. “He’s really smart about bits. Like, he understood how to make all the funny stuff funnier, and how to set it up.”
Hecht also praised her on-screen spouse, Jane Sibbett.
“She’s so beautiful to act with, and such an amazing person,” she said. “I do feel like we were successful at not over-characterizing it as anything but a loving relationship. It was just these two women who were in love, who had a balance between the two of them and were so devoted to each other. And I think that was ahead of its time.”
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh my God, that show was like my Prozac,'” Hecht continued. “‘I grew up with that show. I grew up in, like, a really crazy household and that show was, like, medicinal,’ or, ‘That’s my comfort food.’ And that, I cannot complain about. I feel like life is really hard, and the idea that you would have a TV show that’s comfort food or Prozac, that I’m part of, is phenomenal.”
Why ‘Friends’ is so beloved: “I think ‘Friends’ had such a mission to allow all the things we go through in our 20s to be visible and to pass through them awkwardly and beautifully, and in ways that no other television show has explored. And they’re kind of life lessons about friendship and romance and what you struggle to realize in your 20s about yourself — that is totally timeless. If they started to air it now and just put it in contemporary dress, it would all have the same significance, except they’d have to have more cell phones.”
Lauren Tom as Julie
“She is just the nicest person on the planet,” Tom said of Ross’ season two girlfriend, who arrived just as Rachel was ready to tell Ross she reciprocated his feelings. “And I think that the writers meant to have her that way, so that the joke would play more that Rachel thinks she’s a b—- no matter what she does or says.”
Actually, watchers were so put resources into Ross’ expanding sentiment with Rachel that Tom reviews their response to Julie as “out of control.”
“I wasn’t prepared for the amount of venom I was about to receive in a live audience where they actually booed my character,” she said. “And, of course, I was trying very hard not to get my feelings hurt. So I had to get used to that. But I did understand intellectually that, you know, the audience was meant to be rooting for Rachel. Even I was rooting for Rachel, on some level, ’cause I was a fan of the show.”
“Someone on the street, or just when I’m out and about, will come up to me and say, ‘Were you on ‘Friends’?” she said. “And it’s so great that they keep repeating them, ’cause it keeps me current with the younger crowd. I’m glad that the show still holds up.”
She added, “I’ve studied classical theater. And I’ve done all the stage work, and tried to position myself at the beginning of my career as a serious actress, and yet, I’m probably most known for ‘Friends,’ and what people want to know, is Ross a good kisser? So that sort of sums it up. And he is, by the way.”
Favorite memory on set: “The rest of the cast was so welcoming to me. It was very authentic, their friendship. They were very bonded. When I started, it was the point at which they were just taking off like a rocket ship. Sometimes I think that even a success can feel like a crisis, because it’s so huge. And so they kind of really clung onto each other. They would literally walk down the set on Warner Brothers arm-in-arm. I still remember it was my birthday on my first day of rehearsal, and so they all took me out to lunch. It was very, very fancy, and it was so, so sweet of them to welcome me in that way.”
Why “Friends” is so beloved: “I think that ‘Friends’ is so relatable, and that’s why it’s still such a success so many years later. Because young people can identify with the characters, and the writing is that good. It’s a very clear sign to me when you don’t have to do anything but say the line. And that’s how it always was on ‘Friends.’ The execution was amazing because of the cast and their chemistry, but the writing was very solid.”
Cosimo Fusco as Paolo
“I made up most of the Italian spoken by Paolo,” revealed Fusco, who played Rachel’s Italian boyfriend who incites jealousy in Ross. “When I’m standing by the window with Jennifer, and I say, ‘Look at the moon, look at the stars,’ I just made up those lines.”
While Ross was far less enchanted by Paolo’s allure than Rachel was, Fusco had a lot of acclaim for David Schwimmer.
“David was incredibly talented,” he said. “David’s timing was great, and they were so generous with me, because they understood that I was a young guy from Italy thrown into a sitcom.”
Fusco said he’s often asked what it was like to kiss Aniston.
“I say, ‘Hey, she was a lovely, adorable, young woman — very talented actress,’” he said.
Fusco compared the character to ‘90s hunk Fabio, explaining, and “I had to be a little bit of that guy. I found it a bit outrageous, but right for the part.”
“I had to be the little bit cheesy guy, you know, with a sweater that’s tucked up in his pants,” he added. “I would never dress like that. But I enjoyed very much to play that character, and I wish you’d show Paolo after a haircut. I would love to see him now, after 25 years, how he would, you know, present himself.”
Why ‘Friends’ is so beloved: “It was well done. But it’s also an incredible coincidence of chemistry, of good writing, people. I mean those six guys and girls were just really brilliant on their own, and the magic was just the combination of the individuals. And the topics — the coming of age and dealing with everyone’s problems. Because I think we can all recognize ourselves in their problems. If you watch an episode of ‘Friends,’ you can still smile. You know, you recognize yourself in there still.”
Vincent Ventresca as Fun Bobby
“He was kind of something contrary to what his name guaranteed,” Ventresca said of Monica’s on-off lover from the initial two seasons, who ends up being dull when he quits drinking.
At the point when the entertainer previously arrived, he recollects, “‘Friends’ wasn’t that enormous of an arrangement yet. It was a TV demonstrate that was doing truly well and growing a group of people. I simply recollect how the vitality on the set was. They had a feeling that they were companions. They were a group. What’s more, man, it was truly cool to simply kind of be in that for one night.”
At the point when Ventresca restored the next year, the show’s notoriety had truly exploded.
“They were on the cover of Rolling Stone,” he recalled. “It was pretty crazy. It was a circus. There were people everywhere. And I felt like the stakes were higher because we knew so much more about all of those characters and so much more about all of those actors. But they were sort of the same. They were just kind of doing their thing. And I just remember thinking, ‘That’s cool.’ If they can sort of stay grounded and levelheaded throughout this process, this is going to be a good thing.”
Ventresca said his experiences with “Companions” fans have come in two stages.
“When the show was on, if you were on that show, especially the second year, you were on NBC on Thursday night,” he said. “I mean, it was a big deal. But that was 25 years ago. But then the show came out on Netflix, and so now all these kids that weren’t even alive 25 years ago … I’ll go to the bagel store or something and they’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, there’s Fun Bobby.’”
Favorite memory on set: “I was a basketball player when I was younger, and that’s why I liked acting. They kind of made acting like sports again. It was a team. And they played it together and they worked together. And they knew what was funny and they used the audience as a way to kind of check if their instincts were right. And they knew if they could make the audience laugh they knew they’d make America laugh. Things didn’t always go perfectly when you were taping the show — and they knew it. And they didn’t just gloss over it. They were like, ‘Hey, we can do better.’ And then they literally would, like, huddle up in front of, like, a studio audience. And they’d be like, ‘What if you did this, or what if you did that? And let’s try this.’ And they’d break, and then they’d go and do it.”
Why “Friends” is so beloved: “I think family is timeless, and that’s what they were. They were that group of friends, they were that family that everybody wants to be a part of. And everyone got to sort of join them once a week, and I think that’s why it lasts.”
He added, “Somebody told me they were at some burrito stand somewhere in North Carolina and the hangover cure was the ‘Fun Bobby burrito.'”
Mitchell Whitfield as Barry
“If Rachel didn’t leave me at the altar, can I say there would be no show?” Whitfield clowned of Barry, Rachel’s abandoned life partner from the pilot, who later makes an affection triangle among Rachel and her companion Mindy.
“People still stop me about ‘Friends’ and Barry,” he said. “Like, ‘Oh, you’re the jerk on ‘Friends.’ I didn’t think he was that bad of a guy. But I look back and, yeah, he got ditched at the altar. And maybe he had a wandering eye in a couple of episodes and couldn’t decide which of the friends he liked better. Maybe he was a little bit of a jerk. But let’s just call him misunderstood and still looking for love in all the wrong places.”
Whitfield, who was initially considered for David Schwimmer’s job, said one scene that still stands out is a close minute Barry shares with Rachel in his dental specialist seat in season one.
“It was very awkward,” he said. “And it makes me laugh just because there’s some great lines there. The writing in that scene was really good. And again, awkward moments tend to make me laugh and give me joy. I have guys for years who would ask me, ‘Dude, you kissed Jennifer Aniston. What was that like, dude?’ And they actually would ask it like that, which was awkward too. And I was like, ‘Well, imagine kissing someone you know that you’ve known for a long time that you’re just friends with in front of about 200 people when it’s about 120 degrees with a bunch of cameras on you and I think it always ruins it. ‘Oh, man. I wanted to hear it was great.’ I was like, ‘OK. It was great.’ You don’t know what to say in those times.”
Why is ‘Friends’ so beloved: “I think there are shows that come along, and the word ‘iconic’ comes to mind. I think it’s appropriate here. There are tremendously successful shows on television. You look at ‘Big Bang’ now and I can name stuff from my childhood that I grew up loving — ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘Mary Tyler Moore.’ And then there were shows that seemed to capture the attention of a generation. And I think for ‘Friends,’ there weren’t that many shows when ‘Friends’ came on that skewed younger and that a younger generation could say, “Hey, that’s us,’ when they watch the show. ‘That’s us sitting and having coffee. That’s us in our apartment or looking for love.’ So many people related to that show. It really captured the imagination of a generation. And I think that’s what made it and continues to make it so special.”
Christine Taylor as Bonnie
Taylor importantly played Phoebe’s free-energetic companion Bonnie, whom Rachel influences to shave her head trying to make her less alluring to Ross.
“I didn’t even have to audition,” Taylor said. “I had already done ‘The Brady Bunch’ and had a little work under my belt. I got the call saying, ‘Hey, do you wanna do an arc on “Friends”? I said, ‘Absolutely, hands down.’ I don’t even need to read it. Just yes, yes, yes, of course. It was going to be great. And then I got the script. And saw that I had to not only shave my head and be bald, but be in a bra and a bikini top, and in front of the most beautiful people on television. So it was like, ‘Couldn’t I have gotten one where I was clothed and with hair?’”
“To their credit, Jennifer, Courteney, Lisa, they’re like, ‘You look so beautiful bald,’” she added. “I was like, ‘I look like an alien.’ And I had a lot of hair then too, so it was packing all of my hair into the bald cap, which sort of made my head grow even bigger. So I had to just sort of swallow my pride and go for it. And it was so much fun. And they could not have been kinder and more loving.”
Thinking back now, Taylor says she’s happy she did it, “however there’s not multi day that passes by where individuals don’t disclose to me that that scene has been on.”
“The best is getting it from my kids’ friends because now they’re watching the show for the first time,” she said. “My kids haven’t even seen it yet, but all of their friends will reach out and say, ‘I saw your mom on ‘Friends.’” Because this next generation is watching the show now too. So, it’s fairly often that I get that. And it’s always my favorite, ‘Did you really shave your head?’ No. I didn’t.”
Why “Friends” is so beloved: “At the core, it’s really a sort of coming-of-age show about friendship, and told through the most hilarious circumstances. And really, you know, at the time that style of comedy and writing was so new and fresh, but it’s remained. I think each of those characters had such specific voices in the show that somebody out there could relate to. And I think that still resonates.”