All of the delightful behind-the-scenes tidbits revealed during HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion special

By Dory Jackson
May 27, 2021 08:00 AM
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This post contains spoilers from HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion special.

Finally: The One Where They All Get Together.

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) got back together for the highly-anticipated HBO Max special, Friends: The Reunion, streaming now. During the special, the cast — along with co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, as well as executive producer Kevin Bright — shared a number of delightful behind-the-scenes tidbits from their time working on the NBC series, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.

The six stars also reminisced about how much being part of the popular sitcom meant to them. "It was an incredible time," Cox, 56, told her costars. "Everything came together. We became best friends through just the chemistry, the whole thing. It was life-changing and it forever will be — not just for us, but for people who watch it, and that's such a great feeling to carry forever. I'm really thankful, and I love you guys so much."

Keep reading for the biggest revelations.

Friends
Friends the reunion

1. Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer crushed on each other.

Aniston, 52, and Schwimmer, 54, revealed that it wasn't just their characters, Rachel and Ross, who were attracted to each other. "I mean, the first season, I had a major crush on Jen. At some point, we were crushing hard on each other," Schwimmer said in response to host James Corden's question about off-screen romances between the cast. "But it was like two ships passing, because one of us was always in a relationship and we never crossed that boundary. We respected that."

Aniston added, "Honestly, I remember saying one time to David, 'It's going to be such a bummer if the first time you and I actually kiss is going to be on national television.' Sure enough, first time we kissed was in that coffee shop. So we just channeled all of adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel."

2. Courteney Cox used to hide her script between props.

As the group walked around Stage 24, LeBlanc, 53, joked about Cox hiding her script in the bowl of fruit sitting on Monica's kitchen table. "I saw it [one day on set] and I was like, 'What is this?' And she was like, 'Mind your business,'" he recalled to the cast. "So before we shot that night, I erased it all and she got so mad at me!"

Kudrow, 57, had also noticed that there was "always a script" in the apartment's kitchen sink, but she didn't know why at the time. Turns out, it was Cox's.

"I had so much of my dialogue within these apples," said Cox. "I have memory issues!"

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3. Friends creators had to beg David Schwimmer to do the show.

According to co-creator David Crane, casting for the show, in general, was "really hard" — but they wrote Ross Geller with Schwimmer in mind. "We had seen David for another role for a pilot we'd done the year before," he explained, as Marta Kauffman added that Schwimmer's "hang-dog expression" stuck with them.

Friends Reunion Special Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Credit: Photography by Terence Patrick

Continued Crane, "[We] tried to get David, [but] David had quit television. He had a miserable experience doing another show. He moved back to Chicago to just do theater."

Crane said they had "to beg" and "beseech" Schwimmer to come on board. While Kauffman claimed that they sent the actor gift baskets, Crane had no recollection of that and thought they had just sent him a script. "We assured him that whatever his past experience was, this was going to be different. We promise," Crane said. "And he came on board."

4. Matt LeBlanc once injured his arm on set.

Before the cast filmed each episode, they would all get together for a huddle. The one time they didn't do it was when they shot the season 3 episode, "The One Where No One's Ready," during which LeBlanc accidentally injured himself while filming. The moment occurred when they filmed an argument between Joey and Chandler over a chair.

"We shot it three times and it went perfectly," Kauffman said in an interview. "Lord knows why we had to shoot it a fourth time."

LeBlanc then recalled to the cast, "I went to jump over the coffee table and somehow tripped. And my legs went up in the air and my shoulder came out of the socket."

Paramedics came to take LeBlanc to the hospital and filming wrapped for the day. Ultimately, the injury was written into the show.

5. The cast hated working with Ross' monkey, Marcel — especially David Schwimmer.

With the exception of Aniston, none of the stars enjoyed working with Ross' monkey, Marcel. Schwimmer, in particular, was especially not a fan of the creature, who appeared during the first two seasons.

"I love animals. I love primates. I have nothing against animals, I'm an animal lover. However, here was my problem," he said. "The monkey — obviously, it was trained and it had to hit its mark and do its thing right at the perfect time— but what inevitably began to happen was we would all have choreographed bits kind of timed out, and it would get messed up because the monkey didn't do its job right. So, we'd have to reset, we'd have to go again because the monkey didn't get it right."

Friends Reunion Special Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston
Credit: Photography by Terence Patrick

"So this kept happening over and over, where we're about to do something really funny, but the monkey didn't hit its mark. So we'd have to start again," he continued.

Schwimmer also added that when the monkey would rest on his shoulder while waiting to shoot, the animal's trainer would come over and feed it live grubs. "So the monkey would be sitting on my shoulder, take some grubs, break them in half — these squirming live [grubs]. They'd eat it," he hilariously recalled, adding that the monkey would then have its hands all over him.

6. Friends writers were never sure how far they'd take the Monica-Chandler romance.

Following the eruption of cheers from the live studio audience in reaction to Monica and Chandler's secret rendezvous in London in season 4, Kauffman said the show's writers realized that there was "more" to the narrative. Even after taking the time to explore the possibility while writing for season 5, Kauffman said they "didn't quite realize how far it would go" between the longtime pals, who eventually wed in season 7.

7. Friends creators originally wanted Courteney Cox to play Rachel.

During the casting process, Crane recalled how they had a "hard time" finding the actress who would play Monica Geller. "We saw Courteney as kind of a Rachel at the time," Crane said.

"We met with Courteney Cox and she explained to us why she didn't think she was a Rachel and that she, herself, was more of a Monica — and she was right," Kauffman added. "Courteney brought this incredible joy to the character."

"Everything Courteney brought to it made Monica so much richer than what we had originally intended," said Crane.

Friends
Credit: Reisig & Taylor/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

8. Lisa Kudrow said she has a hard time rewatching herself on the series.

Kudrow opened up about rewatching episodes of the show with her husband, Michel Stern. "He enjoys them more than I do," she said. "Because I'm mortified with myself."

9. Matthew Perry got candid about how important it was for him to get laughs.

As the cast discussed how much they enjoyed having a live studio audience, Perry, 51, admitted just how much their laughter meant to him. "To me, I felt like I was going to die if they didn't laugh," he said. "And it's not healthy, for sure. But I would sometimes say a line and they wouldn't laugh. And I would sweat and just go into convulsions if I didn't get the laugh I was supposed to get. I would freak out."

Perry added, "I felt like that every single night."

10. The actor who played Joey's double was previously considered for the original part.

Friends executive producer Kevin Bright said that LeBlanc, 53, "killed" his audition before he landed the part. Another person being considered for the role was Louis Mandylor, who still ended up appearing on the series as an actor named Carl. Joey hired Carl to serve as his "twin" during the season 6 episode, "The One with Unagi."

Friends: The Reunion is streaming on HBO Max.