Friends is still as big a deal now as it was when the finale aired in '04, thanks in large part to Netflix. The show is almost definitely one of the most popular things on the streaming platform, and with good reason. It's still fairly relatable, no matter how long it's been since audiences first saw it. When it was on, though, Friends was an even bigger phenomenon than it is now. The show was so big over the course of its 10 season run that it attracted celebrity guests.
These Friends guest stars were often A-listers who, at the time, would never have touched TV otherwise. For Friends, though, they were willing to make an exception. The show was so popular that many of its eras biggest stars were on it. This includes people who are still hugely famous to this day. Here are 18 A-list celebs who were once Friends guest stars.
For an entire generation, Julia Roberts was the most famous woman on the planet. For devoted Friends fans, though, she was simply a girl that Chandler had once tormented. When Chandler sees her years later and discovers that she looks like Julia Roberts, the two wind up on a date.
Initially, Chandler thinks she's just being kinky when they head to a restaurant bathroom and Chandler puts her panties on. Eventually, though, he discovers that this was all an elaborate way for her to get revenge on him for all the teasing he used to do to her. Payback can suck that way.
We know Bruce Willis now for his serious, dramatic performances, but he got his start in comedy, and it shows. On Friends, he plays Elizabeth's dad, a man who Rachel briefly dates. In his scenes, Willis is perfectly intimidating, but he also knows how to let his guard down in ways that are truly hilarious.
Bruce Willis is both intimidating and kind of a "neat guy," and while his time on Friends is short-lived, he certainly knows how to make the most of it. If only he took on more comedic roles today.
Friends had plenty of comedians on over the course of its 10 seasons on the air, but it also made room for people who weren't generally starring in comedies. Although Reese Witherspoon has had a nice mix of roles over the course of her career, casting her as one of Rachel's sisters gave her comedic talents a chance to shine.
As Jill, Reese appeared in two consecutive episodes on season 6, and made a fool-hardy attempt to date Ross. Not only did that fail spectacularly, but it also caused a temporary rift in her relationship with Rachel. Never date your sister's ex.
George Clooney hasn't done TV in a very long time, but it is where the actor made his start. Along with Friends, George's show E.R put NBC in the driver's seat through much of the 90s. Early in the run of both shows, a brief crossover was staged.
During season one, Clooney and his E.R. co-star Noah Wyle play dreamy doctors. After Rachel and Monica switch identities so Rachel can use Monica's insurance, the two attempt to keep the charade up when they go on a double date with the dashing doctors. Needless to say, things don't exactly go as planned.
Most of the actors on this list play characters through the course of an episode, but Billy Crystal and Robin Williams are only in a single scene. They're basically cameos, but that doesn't make the scene where they're featured any less hilarious.
The scene comes when the coffee shop the friends frequently visit is especially crowded, and Robin and Billy ask to share the couch the friends are on. From there, we hear all about how Billy's character has been sleeping with Robin's wife. The scene plays out fairly quickly, but it's nonetheless a wonderful moment from two incredible comedians.
Although Brad Pitt did Jennifer Aniston dirty in real life, on Friends, it was the other way around. In fact, Brad's character plays an old friend of Ross's from high school, where the two started the "We Hate Rachel Green" club together. Together, the two of them spread a rumor that Rachel had both male and female reproductive parts.
What really makes this episode a standout is the commitment Brad has to his performance. He's a very gifted comedian, but he rarely gets to show that side of himself. Thankfully, Friends was more than willing to give him that opportunity.
Rachel probably cares a little too much what other people think of her, in general. That quality is on display in the episode where Winona Ryder guests as a friend that Rachel kissed in college. When Winona's character doesn't remember it happening, Rachel becomes determined to kiss her again.
After she succeeds, the Stranger Things star's character reveals that she remembers everything, and is actually in love with Rachel. Naturally, that comes as something of a shock to Rachel, but it does prove that the first kiss actually happened. Like many of the guests on Friends, Winona's appearance is an excellent reminder of just how funny she can be.
Another actor known for his serious work, Gary Oldman gets a chance to make fun of himself when he plays one of Joey's co-stars in a movie. He appears in a few episodes, but his most notable scene comes when he shows up to work drunk, and Joey has to try to hurry him through their scenes so he can get to Monica and Chandler's wedding.
Even great actors have terrible days on set, but Gary's character hits some pretty low lows here. When Joey Tribiani is outshining you in a scene, you know there must be something seriously wrong.
Usually, enthusiasm is a good thing. A positive attitude can make most situations better. When you're too positive, though, you get a character like Parker, Phoebe's friend who's played by none other than Alec Baldwin. Although Parker is very nice, his constant enthusiasm is a bit grating on the rest of the friends, and eventually on Phoebe as well.
Because Baldwin is so game, though, you find basically everything he does funny. Whether he's punching Chandler in the arm way too hard or telling everyone how lucky they are to be in Event Room C, Parker is always incredibly extra, and Alec Baldwin knows just how to play that.
Friends was great at casting famous people in roles that took advantage of what made these people stars in the first place. For Susan Sarandon, who played a long-running star of Days of Our Lives who's being kicked off the show, the casting couldn't have been more spot-on.
That's not just because Susan has always been able to make anything feel dramatic. The way she imbues every line with a sense of rage and exhaustion is perfect, and her scenes with Joey bring out the best in him as well. With her, he's sweet and caring, which makes their short friendship all the sweeter.
When Monica and Chandler want to get pregnant, they're willing to turn almost anywhere for help. One of the first things Chandler does is invite a strapping friend from work over to see if he's interested in donating his sperm. That friend is played by John Stamos.
Of course, Monica and Chandler don't want to tell him why he's been invited over. Instead, they pepper him with slightly inappropriate questions about his family history and health. The Full House star is admirably studly, and the scene works because he looks like the kind of man you'd want your children to eventually look like.
The early seasons of Friends were all about crossovers, and Helen Hunt, who was then starring on NBC's Mad About You, gave the show another crossover opportunity. Although she's only on the show for a second playing her character from Mad About You, she actually plays a crucial role in the show's plot.
When she mistakes Phoebe for Ursula, she helps the friends uncover the fact that Phoebe has an identical twin. Although feelings are varied on how effective Ursula is as a character, her first mention is iconic in and of itself. When Helen Hunt is delivering the information, that information is worth repeating.
Jeff Goldblum is one of the strangest mainstream Hollywood actors we've ever had. On Friends, the Jurassic Park star plays a legendary director that Joey auditions for. Joey nails his audition, but only because he's in a lot of pain as a result of a full bladder.
Unfortunately, he doesn't manage to escape the room before he relieves himself. We don't find out what happens next, but we can guess. He may have gotten the part if he'd just managed to make it to a bathroom instead of peeing on Jeff Goldblum, but then he wouldn't really be the Joey we know and love.
This is one of the most brilliant casting decisions in the history of the show. When Phoebe hires a male stripper for her bachelorette party, she doesn't expect someone who looks like Danny DeVito. The joke doesn't end there, though, as we eventually learn way too much about this stripper's life and how he lost his mojo.
The It's Always Sunny star is perfect as a past-his-prime stripper who is trying to figure out where things went wrong. It's a weirdly dark vibe for Friends, but that's why it works so well. Most of the jokes aren't as depressing as those that Danny gets to tell.
Sean Penn may be a bit crazed in real life, but on Friends he plays the sweet fiance of Ursula, Phoebe's twin sister. When Phoebe discovers that Ursula has been telling him lies about herself, she makes it her mission to let Sean's character in on the truth. After he breaks things off with Ursula, the two of them even give a relationship a shot.
Ultimately, that doesn't last because Sean's character can't look at Phoebe without thinking of Ursula, which makes sense when you consider the whole identical-twin-thing. With his two Oscars, Sean Penn was certainly one of the most awarded actors to ever appear on the show.
Rachel dates a lot of odd-balls over the course of Friends, which is fine. Dating is a perilous affair, and you're bound to run into some less than desirable people. One of Rachel's oddest boyfriends was "the screamer," who was played by Ben Stiller. If "the screamer" sounds bad, you really have no idea.
The premise of Stiller's character is that he screams at anyone who bothers him. He has a pretty hot temper, and that temper is what makes him so funny. He even yells at the chicken and the duck, and no one yells at the chicken and the duck.
Charlie Sheen is best known today for losing his mind in public. Once upon a time, though, he was an actual Hollywood star, which explains his appearance on Friends. On the show, he played a Navy officer who also happens to be Phoebe's long-lost love. When Phoebe gets the chicken pox, she's worried she won't be able to see him, but thankfully, he doesn't mind catching them.
From that moment on, the two of them spend two weeks together, madly in love and incredibly itchy. It's both hilarious and a little romantic, even though we never see this character again on the show.
Grey's Anatomy would eventually launch Ellen Pompeo to super-stardom, but she wasn't actually big name when she guest starred on the 10th season of Friends. In that season, she plays Missy Goldberg, a girl who both Ross and Chandler had crushes on back in the day.
When Ross tells Missy that they made a pact never to ask Missy out, Missy explains that she and Chandler made out quite a bit. Naturally, Ross feels a bit betrayed by this. After all, he had held up his end of the bargain. Ellen's appearance is brief, but it's notable because she became the star of an incredibly successful TV drama thereafter.