Paul Rudd played Lisa Kudrow's onscreen husband Mike, and Cole Sprouse made appearances as David Schwimmer's TV son Ben

By Ally Mauch
May 29, 2021 03:15 PM
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Friends
Credit: NBCU Photo Bank; NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

From Reese Witherspoon to Tom Selleck, the Friends reunion special included many of the show's iconic guest stars in addition to the regular cast members — Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), Courteney Cox (Monica Geller), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani), Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing) and David Schwimmer (Ross Geller). 

However, some of the show's guest stars weren't able to make it, including Paul Rudd, who played Phoebe's husband Mike, and Cole Sprouse, who made appearances as Ross's son Ben. 

The director of the HBO Max special, Ben Winston, explained the absences, telling The Wrap that not including Rudd, 52, and Sprouse, 28, was simply a matter of logistics.

"Well, we couldn't have everybody on, because it's only an hour and 45 minutes. And you've got to pay attention — the main nub of the show has got to be about the six cast members," Winston said. "So you can't have too many cameos because of course, there were hundreds of amazing people who were in 'Friends' over the years. Sadly, we couldn't get everybody in."

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Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
Friends
| Credit: Jon Ragel/NBCU/Getty

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"You know, we did invite some people who weren't able to make it," Winston continued. "It's a complicated time to be making television now because, you know, some people couldn't fly internationally, some people were on other TV or film shoots, some people are in bubbles on stuff."

The director added that the COVID-19 pandemic also made it difficult to include everyone and accommodate their strict filming schedule. 

"I think during a pandemic, it's really hard to get everybody where you want to be. And the other thing, of course, is we have no flexibility. It was one night that those six [main cast members] were available," he explained. "The timing of it was incredibly difficult. So, you know, if you weren't available on the seventh of April at 8 p.m., then, sadly, they weren't able to be part of it. Yeah, we couldn't get everybody in. It's just one of those things. I hope people will think about all the great things that are in there rather than the things that aren't."

RELATED VIDEO: 'Friends' Reunion Exclusive! The Cast Reflects on the Beloved Show Before "Emotional" HBO Max Special

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The highly anticipated Friends reunion special, streaming now on HBO Max, was only the second time the six main cast members reunited since the series finale aired in 2004.

"I was flooded with 10 years of irreplaceable memories," Cox, 56, told PEOPLE exclusively ahead of the special's premiere. 

"It's funny, when we do get together, it's like no time has passed," LeBlanc, 53, added. "We pick up right where we left off."

Aniston, 52, later noted that when the six stars first met up together on the soundstage, their initial mutual thought was "Oh God, how are we going to get through this alive, without just crying our faces off?"

Friends: The Reunion is available to stream now on HBO Max.