“Friends”: one by one, how were the protagonists of the series chosen? – Tvshow – 05/28/2021

This Thursday the special premiered on HBO Max Friends: the reunion, and one of the most interesting moments is when creators of the program, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, tell how they reached the actors who would end up starring in their great success, inspired precisely by their experience as twenty-somethings in New York.

The first chosen for the cast was David Schwimmer. They had already worked with the actor, so they had composed the character of Ross thinking of his voice and his gestures, they had made it to measure. However, the actor had had enough of television and had decided to leave the city and turn to the theater, so there was a fine work of convincing that, says Kauffman, may have included gift baskets.

David Schwimmer en Friends
David Schwimmer en “Friends”

They tried out many actresses for the role of Phoebe Buffay and none of them worked, until Crane’s partner told him that his Phoebe was Úrsula, a wench from the series Mad About You it had everything they were looking for. It was, of course, the very Lisa Kudrow, which immediately fit the role. On Friends, Úrsula would be his evil twin sister.

With Matt LeBlanc something similar happened. They had tried many carilindos actors for the position but in none they found everything they needed for the character, until they found this boy who had little experience in television. He quickly settled into the role although there was another finalist for Joey’s place, who would later participate in the series as Carl, a supposed man “identical” to Joey in the episode “The One With the Unagi”: Louis Mandylor.

Kauffman and Crane wanted Courteney Cox to make of Rachel Green. They had seen her in the Bruce Springsteen video clip “Dancing in the Dark” and were fascinated with her. However, the actress did not feel like a Rachel and insisted that she be considered as Monica Geller, a character with whom I felt true empathy. He was right.

Courteney Cox as Monica Geller.  Photo: Diffusion
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller. Photo: Diffusion

As to Matthew Perry Y Jennifer AnistonBoth had signed to be in other series and in the end, for different reasons, they could be part of Friends, although it was not easy.

In the case of Perry, the creators wanted him at all costs because they had believed that it would be very easy to find a funny Chandler Bing, and it was not so. But the interpreter had already filmed the pilot for a futuristic space comedy called LAX 2194 and, luckily for him, the project did not prosper and allowed him to switch to Friends.

Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing in
Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing in “Friends.” Photo: Archive

With Aniston it was different. She had already filmed several episodes of the sitcom Muddling Through, but Kauffman and Crane decided to choose it the same and shoot with it the pilot and three more chapters, played to their luck. In the end, Muddling Through It was canceled and they stayed with the actress, but they would have had to film the whole thing again if that hadn’t happened.

jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston en “Friends”

Apart from what was revealed in the special, on a virtual red carpet that was broadcast prior to the premiere, through the social networks of HBO Max, some rumors regarding the selection process of the actors were demystified. Casting director Ellie Kanner denied, for example, that Aniston went to the casting dressed as a bride, although she said that there was an actress who auditioned for the role of Rachel in that outfit.

She also confirmed that Téa Leoni had been the first choice for the role of Rachel, while Janeane Garofolo had been initially chosen to be Monica. Both rejected the proposal for different reasons.

The other thing he clarified is that although Vince Vaughn auditioned to play Joey TribbianiHe wasn’t chosen because he wasn’t the Joey they had in mind.