Jen Aniston And David Schwimmer Were Crushing On Each Other + 7 More Revelations From FRIENDS: The Reunion
Oh. My. God.
The much-awaited “FRIENDS: The Reunion” finally streamed today, May 27, more than a year after it was first announced in February 2020.
Ever since the cult favorite comedy series ended in 1994 after 10 seasons, and with so many reboots happening recently, fans had been clamoring for the main cast -- Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer -- to reunite onscreen, be it for a sequel, a movie, or a special. In 2020, every “FRIENDS” fan rejoiced with the news, although the pandemic made the wait a little (a lot) longer.
Produced by HBO Max, the 1-hour-43-minute special was every FRIENDS fanatic's dream. It starts off with each of the six entering a now-empty Studio 24, into the FRIENDS set carefully reassembled for the special. Each one took a moment to feel being on the set again which first made them famous some 27 years ago.
"Does it seem smaller to anyone else?" LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani, asked as he stood by the kitchen of Monica Geller, played by Cox. "And was it always purple, that wall?" he jests, to which everyone replies, "Yeah!" Perry, like his character Chandler Bing, claps back with a "Yeah, you've gone crazy."
The interview with the FRIENDS cast, hosted by James Corden of "The Late Late Show," had the iconic fountain that graced the series' opening credits as background. The conversations were interspersed with table readings of memorable scenes and some episode flashbacks to refresh the viewers' memory, although a true-blue fan would have known them by heart. The cast even recreated the quiz night scene which led Monica and Aniston's Rachel Green to losing their apartment to next-door neighbors Joey and Chandler.
Ten seasons of FRIENDS made for a lot of memories (and secrets), and here are just a few heartwarming and surprising revelations the cast and the producers made at the reunion:
1. All six actors were closely knit from the beginning.
"You guys ate lunch together every day," LeBlanc said of the ladies. "The first couple of years we ate every meal together," corrected Schwimmer, "even on the weekends," to which Perry adds, "We were inseparable, all of us."
2. David Schwimmer was the first to be cast; Jennifer Aniston, the last.
David Crane, co-creator and executive producer of the show, said that they wanted Schwimmer to play the role of paleontologist Ross Geller, but at the time, the actor was bent on doing theater only. "We had to beg him and beseech him, 'We wrote this for you!'"
In casting the "floopy" Phoebe Buffay, Marta Kauffman says, "Lisa was someone who came in and nailed the audition. She not only did everything we'd hoped, she elevated the material." Kauffman is co-creator, executive producer, and writer for the show.
"We saw a lot of guys who you'd believe were actors, guys who liked women, but they weren't funny. Then, Matt (LeBlanc) came in, and suddenly, on him, the lines felt funny," says Crane.
"Courteney brought this incredible joy to the character," says Kauffman. "Everything Courteney brought to it made Monica so much richer than what we had originally intended," Crane adds.
"When Matthew reads that dialogue, it sparkles, and it comes alive. And for the first time through the casting process, we knew there was a character there and this was the guy to play it," Kauffman says of Perry.
"Jennifer had this warmth and sincerity and genuineness about her where she just made you feel okay about everything else that Rachel was that you might have passed judgment on," says executive producer and director Kevin Bright.
3. Matt LeBlanc went to the callback auditions hungover.
LeBlanc says he and a friend went drinking the day before his callback, and that he had a mishap when he woke up the next day.
"[I] fell face first into the toilet. I hit my nose on the bottom of the toilet seat and a huge chunk of meat came off my nose. And I'm looking on the mirror, bleeding, 'Oh my god.' So I have to go in for the big callback with a big ugly scab on my nose. And Marta Kauffman said, what happened to your face? And I told the truth and got the job."
4. David Schwimmer did not like working with Marcel the monkey.
Asked if there was anything they didn't like while doing the show, Schwimmer replied, "the monkey," referring to a recurring character named Marcel. "I love animals, I love primates, I'm an animal lover. However," he began, as the rest of the cast laughed at the recollection.
"We'd have to reset, we'd have to go again, because the monkey didn't get it right. This kept happening over and over."
5. For ten years, the Friends cast did a huddle before every show.
On every show, except one, that is -- which is when they shot "The One Where No One's Ready" in Season 3.
"There was one thing we did every show that we didn't do that night before we started. That's the one time we didn't do it," says LeBlanc. On that shoot, LeBlanc accidentally hurt himself after a bad jump. "My shoulder came out of the socket," he recalls.
Now we don't know what you think of that, but that's joincidence with a "c." *wink*
The crew had to wait until LeBlanc had recovered to shoot the end of the episode, and the arm sling had to be written into the script. "What started out to be the simplest FRIENDS episode ended up taking the longest amount of time to shoot," says Bright.
6. Chandler and Monica's romance was unintentional.
"The original plan was they would sleep together in London, it was a brief thing and we'd have some fun with it afterward," says Crane.
"But the way the audience reacted, we realized, there's more to this, and we need to pay attention," says Kauffman.
Chandler and Monica, as you would know, got married eventually and adopted twins on the final season.
7. Janice's iconic laugh was "born in the moment."
Maggie Wheeler, a recurring guest of the show as Chandler's on-off love interest Janice, said she came up with the character's distinct laugh by chance.
"Matthew Perry is so funny, and the minute I set eyes on him and he opened his mouth, I felt, Oh god, I'm gonna lose it, I'm gonna crack up. This character needs a laugh because I'm not gonna be able to get through a single scene with this guy. And I just slipped in, [laugh] and that was it. It was just born in the moment, so thank you, Matthew, for inspiring that."
8. David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston were crushing on each other in Season 1.
"The first season, I had a major crush on Jen," Schwimmer reveals, "and at some point we were both crushing hard on each other, but it was like two ships passing because one of us was always in a relationship."
Jen agreed and said, "We just channeled all of our adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel."
With 236 episodes watched by 25 million viewers a week on average, and aired in over 220 territories, FRIENDS was undeniably a worldwide phenomenon.
Corden read out statistics that said the final FRIENDS episode was watched by 52 million people, and that the series had been watched over 100 billion times across all platforms. Clearly, TV's number 1 comedy for 6 straight seasons was an experience everyone involved would not easily forget. Perry sums up the kind of friendship they had forged over ten years with this:
"The best way that I can describe it is, after the show was over, at a party or any kind of social gathering, if one of us bumped into each other, that was it. That was the end of the night. You just sat with the person all night long and that was it.
"You apologize to the people you were with, but they had to understand you had met somebody special to you, and you were gonna talk to that person for the rest of the night. And that's the way it works."
Watch FRIENDS: The Reunion in the Philippines exclusively on HBO GO.