"I had to work hard at being Phoebe," Lisa Kudrow confessed to comedian Kevin Nealon

By Eric Todisco
September 12, 2019 05:39 PM
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Lisa Kudrow is admitting that she struggled in her early years on Friends while playing lovably flaky free spirit Phoebe Buffay.

On a recent episode of Kevin Nealon‘s YouTube series, Hiking with Kevin, the duo went for a hike in the woods as Kudrow recalled the difficulty she felt while playing Phoebe at the beginning of the NBC sitcom, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary of its premiere this month

“I had played dumb girls [before] but it wasn’t really me,” Kudrow explained of her role. “I feel like, ‘sh-t, I tricked them in the audition.’ I was the only one who could cope with the audition process and that’s how I got it, I think. So I had to work hard at being Phoebe.”

Come season 3, Kudrow was “struggling” at nailing the offbeat Phoebe even after three seasons on the show. However, that all changed thanks to advice from costar Matt LeBlanc.

“I remember Matt LeBlanc going, ‘What’s going on with you?'” she recalled. “And I said, ‘I don’t think I have it. I don’t know what I’m doing.’ And he went, ‘You’re her, relax, you got it. You’ve been doing this f-cking character for three years. You’re working too hard, that’s your problem. You don’t need to work this hard, relax.’ He was right.”

When Nealon, 65, asked Kudrow if she noticed a changed in her acting from season 1 to season 5, she surprised the comedian with her response: “I haven’t seen the show,” Kudrow admitted.

“You’ve never watched it?” the comedian asked. “You’ll wanna watch it.”

“I should, I hear it’s good,” joked Kudrow, 56.

Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
Jon Ragel/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

The actress received many accolades for her 10 years as Phoebe Buffay. She was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress six times, winning once in 1998. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe in 1996.

  • PEOPLE’s new special issue Friends at 25! is available now on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in May, Kudrow recalled the pilot episode as her favorite memory from the series, which ran from 1994 to 2004.

“We were like little puppy dogs, just climbing all over each other and playing and playing games and wanted to be together all the time. It was fun,” she said.

Courtesy Everett Collection

When asked if she ever watched reruns of Friends, Kudrow said she didn’t “know the last time” she had tuned into an episode.

“I don’t watch it if it’s on,” she revealed. “I might not like myself, so I’d rather not risk that.”

Kudrow told PEOPLE in 2017 that she “sometimes” likes to watch bloopers from the show. “They make me laugh,” she said at the time.