8 Facts About “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.”
N.B.C.’s comedy sitcom Friends (1994-2004) has been a touchstone of entertainment culture for decades. But there are a few things you do not know about the iconic series, whether you’ve recently found it on streaming platforms or have been quoting it your whole life.
FRIENDS WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED INSOMNIA CAFÉ
Friends co-creators did a seven-page pitch for a proposed sitcom called Insomnia Café in the early 1990s. The name was changed after N.B.C. purchased the pilot. The show’s title had been changed to Six of One by the time it debuted on September 22, 1994. The show was subsequently renamed, Friends.
THE CAST COULD HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.
When auditioning for Friends, Kathy Griffin and Jane Lynch became friends. During pilot season, Matthew Perry shot the pilot for LAX 2194. Before Perry was cast, Jon Favreau and Jon Cryer were both considered for the role of Chandler. The episode may have focused on L.A.X. baggage handlers who handled aliens’ belongings.
THE PRODUCERS WANTED COURTENEY COX TO PLAY RACHEL
Courteney Cox was perhaps the most well-known cast member before the show’s premiere. She was famous for several advertisements and for appearing in the music video for Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark. She was initially cast as Rachel by the Friends producers, but she requested to play Monica instead because she liked the “solid” character.
ROSS GELLER’S PART WAS CREATED FOR DAVID SCHWIMMER.
It could come as a surprise, given that Eric McCormack (Will of Will & Grace) made headlines when he revealed that he auditioned for Ross “two or three times.” However, since executive producer Kevin Bright had already collaborated with Schwimmer, the writers worked on Ross’s character in Schwimmer’s accent. Schwimmer was, in reality, the show’s first cast member.
BEFORE THE SHOW, THE CAST TOOK A TRIP TO LAS VEGAS TOGETHER.
Director James Burrows, who directed a few episodes for the show between 1995 and 1997, took the six members of the cast to Vegas because he “had a feeling about the show.” He urged the party to have fun when they were at Caesar’s Palace. Burrows told them, “This is your final chance at anonymity.”
CAESAR’S PALACE PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE ON FRIENDS
In the fictional world of Friends, Caesar’s Palace was also significant. His friend saw Joey playing a gladiator at the Vegas hotel in the season 5 finale, “The One in Vegas.” Of note, this was the same episode in which Ross and Rachel get married in a drunken stupor and stumble out of a Vegas chapel as Monica and Chandler, who were about to get married.
MONICA WAS AN EARLY FAN OF THE MENTAL FLOSS.
Monica is seen casually reading a new magazine called Mental Floss while hanging out at Central Perk in the 2003 episode “The One With the Soap Opera Party.” Since he is the one who made it happen, we owe David Arquette a lifetime of gratitude. “I thought it was so cool,” Arquette said at the time to Entertainment Weekly, “so I gave it to Courteney” for the broadcast.
LISA KUDROW COULDN’T PLAY THE GUITAR.
“I didn’t like the guitar,” Lisa Kudrow said of Phoebe Buffay’s musical instrument of choice. “It didn’t make sense to me. ‘What if she plays the bongos?’ I think I even asked.” They then brought in a guitar instructor, but that didn’t last long. Kudrow mastered a few chords before declaring that she was through with the courses. Phoebe might just know a few chords anyway, she reasoned. And thank goodness because “Smelly Cat” is perfect just the way it is.