Friends is one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. So, naturally, it has a rabid fan base. But, even the most devoted fan would be surprised at the behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends that they don't know! So much was going on off-screen — and not all of it was wholesome! Drug use, discord, and some serious dislike for certain plotlines were just a few of the unbelievable things that happened when cameras weren't rolling. These behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends reveal so much!
It wasn't all so crazy, though. The cast remains real-life friends, they had plenty of enjoyable days on set, and the show took them all out of relative obscurity. These behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends are funny, informative, and sometimes jaw-dropping. It's kind of wild how much stuff was hidden from audiences throughout the shows run! Any true Friends fan will want to eat up all these facts — and find any that we missed ASAP!
Back when LeBlanc was just a struggling actor, he was living gig-to-gig, just trying to get by until he booked his next role. He was so "in-between roles" before landing the role of Joey Tribbiani on Friends that he had a mere $11 in the bank. The actor recounted in an interview that he was going to get a job as a waiter to supplement his income, but his $11 would be long gone before the first paycheck would have landed and he probably would've starved! But a little role on this sitcom worked out well for him and the rest is history.
Matthew Perry was a hot commodity in the TV pilot world in the mid-'90s. In the same year he landed Friends, he also shot a pilot for a show called LAX 2194 about baggage handlers at LAX who sorted luggage for traveling aliens. The showrunners took a chance on him anyways with the expectation that his other show wouldn't be picked up to series. Honestly, I think they were pretty safe with that one. Baggage handlers in the future? Really?! Luckily, the other series was not picked up and Perry went on to have a fruitful TV career on Friends.
This is one of the behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends but, there was a chance we'd be calling it by a totally different name! The show went through several name changes before the iconic and simple title, Friends, was set in stone. The show was pitched as "Insomnia Café," only to be changed to "Friends Like Us" after the pilot was ordered. An NBC exec came up with another potential name for the series at that point: "Across the Hall." By the time the pilot was shot, the show was called "Six of One" — so, yeah, A LOT of name changes! In the end, they landed on something perfectly succinct and to the point: Friends. Duh!
Everyone knows the iconic yellow picture frame around the peephole on Monica's (Courteney Cox) door. But, originally, it wasn't just a quirky art piece — it actually had a picture in it! It was originally just a normal picture frame propped on a table until someone broke the glass in the frame. The set director Greg Grande decided to see how it would look around the peephole in order to dress up the door a bit. It clearly worked out, and now you have a generation of Friends fans doing the same intentionally!
The cast had no idea they were about to be superstars — but director James Burrows did! The legendary TV director directed the pilot episode and most of the first season and before the show was set to air, he brought the cast to Vegas. On the trip, he told them to enjoy themselves because it was going to be the last time they would be able to go anywhere and remain anonymous! Burrows knew from the jump that Friends was going to be a massive success. He also lent each member of the cast money so that they could gamble. Something told him these six wouldn't remain broke for long!
Before Lisa Kudrow began playing free-spirited Phoebe, she appeared regularly on another sitcom: Mad About You. Both series aired on NBC, so she was able to be on both shows for a bit. On Mad About You, she played a waitress named Ursula. In order to try and tie it all together, Ursula became a character on Friends — Pheebs's twin sister! The network aired Friends right after Mad About You during its first season, so they had to address the fact that she was on both shows somehow! Kudrow played Ursula on a total of eight episodes on Friends.
That famous little white fridge in Monica's apartment wasn't just a prop! The fridge was fully functioning and held drinks for the cast and crew. It's one of the rare instances on TV where if someone pulled a drink out of the fridge, it was actually cold! This is one of the behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends that gives a glimpse into the family-like atmosphere on the set of the show. They all shared the fridge as a little snack haven for everyone and had fun inside secrets about its contents in any given episode!
Oh, and he did it for free! After starring in The Whole Nine Yards together, Willis and Matthew Perry grew close. The two had a wager going that the film would be number-one at the box office on its opening weekend. Perry had faith, Willis wasn't so sure. The film ended up being number-one and, as a result of losing that bet, Willis had to guest star on the sitcom for free! Well, sort of. Any earnings he would have made were actually donated to charity. He's one of our favorite guest stars so we're pretty happy he lost that bet!
Phoebe was a lousy musician because Lisa Kudrow didn't want to learn how to play the guitar! She said that she just wasn't getting the instrument as she tried to learn and even pitched the idea that Phoebe plays the bongos instead. The help of a guitar teacher didn't do much and the actress only really learned a few cords. But, luckily, Phoebe's poor guitar playing was part of her charm. They even wrote it into an episode where she admits she doesn't know the chords, just the hand shapes she makes when she plays them (bear claw and old lady, to name a few). We can't imagine her silly, zany songs any other way!
The sixth season premiere, "The One After Vegas," was special for a few reasons. It was the episode right after Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) drunkenly got married on the show, and in real life, it was right after Courteney Cox and David Arquette got married themselves! To commemorate the occasion, all the cast had "Arquette" added to their last name in the opening credits to signify that Courteney was going by a new name these days and marrying one of them is marrying all of them. The episode is even dedicated to the Arquettes who "actually got married!" This is one of the most wholesome behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends, and even though Cox and Arquette have since split we love how happy the cast and crew was for them at the time!
Thankfully this one didn't pan out! But, originally, Monica and Joey were going to be the hot couple on the show. When the creators were first conceiving the show, the idea was to have these two end up together. Once they cast actual actors, though, they realized that the dynamic of the group wouldn't allow for Monica and Joey to be a feasible thing. Thank God for that! If she had ended up with Joey, then we never would have gotten the real ultimate Friends couple: Monica and Chandler!
In the wake of 9/11, a scene was actually cut from airing due to some touchy subject matter. On the episode "The One Where Rachel Tells Ross," we see Monica and Chandler head on their honeymoon. The episode originally went way differently than what aired! The OG version has Chandler joking about bombs in relation to the plane and the two are detained, destined to never actually make it to their honeymoon destination. In the wake of the plane hijackings on September 11th, 2001, the scene was changed and the episode was altered. This is definitely a behind-the-scenes secret of Friends that's going to have us searching for the original clips tonight!
This is one of those behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends that we would never have guessed! Janice (Maggie Wheeler) became such a favorite character that her appearances were shrouded in secrecy so that people wouldn't expect to hear her iconic laugh and "OH MY GOD" when she appeared. Wheeler said in an interview that she was kept hidden when she was going to appear in episodes so that the audience wouldn't see her beforehand and could, therefore, have a genuine reaction to her appearance. She mentioned it was a total rock star moment for her and we can see why — a surprise Janice appearance was always a highlight!
Good news: the cast hated the Rachel and Joey romance storyline as much as most of the fans did! Matt LeBlanc even went so far as to call it "incestuous," according to a book about the series. He also noted that Joey would not be that type of friend to Ross and just go and fall in love with the mother of his child. We agree! Jennifer Aniston for her part said that she wanted it to merely be a friends with benefits situation without anything messy like love or emotions getting in the way. Rachel and Joey turned into a weird half-relationship that, luckily, fizzled out fast!
When something happened to the cast in real life, it was often written into the show. For example, in the third season, there was an episode where Joey wore a sling. It was explained away as he hurt himself jumping on the bed (such a Joey move), but it was actually a real-life injury. He sustained it on-set during a scene where he and Matthew Perry had to run towards a big, comfy chair and they ended up colliding, causing a shoulder injury for LeBlanc. Another medical condition that was written into the show was Lisa Kudrow's pregnancy! The season-four storyline where Phoebe has her brother's children as a surrogate was thought up as a way to deal with Kudrow's real-life growing belly. This is one of those behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends that explains so much about that crazy plotline!
Many of the behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends are tame but of course, they have to include some money issues! During the first season of the show, the entire cast received the same salary, $22,000 an episode. But, by the second season, their salaries began to change unevenly and they were not having it. Before the third season, the entire cast entered salary negotiations together and angled for equal pay for all six of the main stars. Some even took a pay cut to ensure that everyone was getting paid fairly for the equal work they were all doing! It clearly worked out well for them since by the final couple seasons, the cast members were making $1 million per episode!
We all know how the series finale played out. Rachel got off the plane that was headed towards Paris in favor of staying in New York with her baby daddy and true love, Ross. Originally, though, it was going to play out a bit differently. The two were still going to end up together, of course. Let's be honest — there would have been a rebellion if they didn't! But Ross was actually going to fly to Paris to find Rachel, profess his love, and bring her home with him. This is one of the behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends that makes us wish things had gone a different way! Unfortunately, they weren't able to have Ross go to Paris because there wasn't enough time with the shortened final season.
Jennifer Aniston was becoming one of the biggest stars in the world near the end of the series. She was married to Brad Pitt, doing movies, and her famous haircut was everywhere. So, we understand her hesitance to do the tenth season. After the ninth, she wasn't sure if she wanted to come back for another go-round, citing the fact that she wanted the show to go out on top while fans still loved it. She also didn't know how much more Rachel she still had in her. Her reluctance to sign on led to a shorter final season, but also some incredible episodes we wouldn't have gotten otherwise! Thank goodness the series didn't end with the season nine finale which ended in a cliffhanger that involved the doomed Rachel and Joey relationship!
This is definitely one of the darker behind-the-scenes secrets of Friends! Matthew Perry has always been open with his addiction struggles, but many don't realize that he was struggling while starring in one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. In 1997, he completed a 28-day rehab program for an addiction to Vicodin. This was during the show's third season, around the time you could noticeably see Perry getting super thin. There was even a nonsensical episode about Chandler and Monica working out that just didn't play because it was clear Perry was too skinny! The actor got clean for a bit but re-entered rehab in 2001 during the show's seventh season.
Aniston's iconic haircut as Rachel Green was a sensation. Every woman in America was going to the salon and requesting a recreation of the cut. But there was one person who wasn't a huge fan of the hairstyle: Rachel herself! Aniston has said that she felt the cut was "cringe-y" and just flat out ugly. She also notes that it was too much work as she couldn't style it on her own and needed a hair stylist with her constantly on set to keep it looking good. The actress even once said that she'd rather shave her head once than ever rock "The Rachel" again!