From the unforgettable coffee-scented haven of Central Perk to the beloved antics of Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe, ‘Friends’ has entrenched itself as an everlasting gem in the realm of television sitcoms.
Beyond the laugh tracks and heartwarming moments, the show holds a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, hidden secrets, and fascinating trivia. As we venture back into the world of these six Manhattan pals, join us in uncovering some of the most captivating and lesser-known facts that adorned the journey of ‘Friends’ through its ten remarkable seasons.
Before settling on the title “Friends,” the show was initially named “Insomnia Café” by creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Later, it was briefly called “Friends Like Us” before simplifying to just “Friends,” which perfectly encapsulated the essence of the show’s premise.
Central Perk’s Iconic Couch
The famous orange couch in Central Perk almost didn’t make it onto the set. The production designer, John Shaffner, found the couch abandoned in the basement of the Warner Bros. Studios. Its distinctive color and unique design perfectly suited the show’s aesthetic, becoming an integral part of the coffee shop’s set. Despite its significance, the couch was almost discarded due to its worn-out appearance before being refurbished and used on set.
Jennifer Aniston Almost Played A Different Role
Jennifer Aniston originally auditioned for the role of Monica Geller, which eventually went to Courteney Cox. However, the producers felt that Aniston was better suited to play Rachel Green. Cox was initially offered the role of Rachel but preferred Monica.
Monica’s apartment number changed throughout the series. It was originally number 5, but it became number 20 in later seasons due to the layout of the building used for exterior shots.
Phoebe Buffay’s Songs
Lisa Kudrow, who portrayed the quirky and eccentric Phoebe Buffay, contributed musically to the show. She wrote and performed several of Phoebe’s unusual and humorous songs, such as “Smelly Cat,” which became one of the most memorable tunes from the series. Kudrow also created several other humorous and offbeat songs for the show. Among these were tunes like “Sticky Shoes,” “Two of Them Kissed Last Night,” and “Grandma’s a Person.
Recurring Guest Stars
Throughout its ten-season run, “Friends” featured numerous guest appearances by actors who later became famous. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon and Mae Whitman are just a few examples of guest stars who appeared on the show before gaining widespread recognition.
The Famous Clap
The theme song “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts features the memorable clapping sequence. The song’s writers, Allee Willis and Michael Skloff, accidentally added the four claps, which became an integral part of the song’s rhythm and catchiness.
Monica and Chandler’s Relationship
The writers initially intended to pair Monica with Joey as the central romantic couple of the show. However, after seeing the on-screen chemistry between Courteney Cox’s Monica and Matthew Perry’s Chandler, they altered the storyline, leading to Monica and Chandler becoming one of the most beloved couples on the series.
The Magna Doodle Board
On the door of Joey and Chandler’s apartment, there was a Magna Doodle board. The drawings and messages on it were often done by the crew members, including inside jokes, messages, or hints about the upcoming episodes.
Joey and Chandler’s Chick and Duck
Joey and Chandler’s apartment was home to a chick and a duck in various episodes. The animals were initially introduced to replace a storyline involving a dog, but the writers decided to keep them around due to their comedic value.
Ross and Rachel’s Love
The phrase “we were on a break,” uttered by Ross during a tumultuous period in his relationship with Rachel, became a recurring point of contention between the characters throughout the series and remains a famous quote from the show.
By the final season of “Friends,” the main cast members (Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer) negotiated a historic deal, earning $1 million per episode. Their significant paychecks made headlines and solidified them as the highest-paid television actors at the time.
The iconic theme song, “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts, almost didn’t happen. The show’s creators initially wanted to use R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” as the theme song.
Lisa Kudrow’s real-life pregnancy was written into the show, and her character, Phoebe Buffay, became a surrogate for her brother Frank and his wife Alice. In this storyline, Phoebe gave birth to triplets, including a boy named Frank Jr. Jr.
Ursula Buffay Crossover
The character of Ursula Buffay, originally from the TV show “Mad About You,” was also played by Lisa Kudrow. The creators incorporated Ursula into “Friends” as Phoebe’s twin sister, establishing a connection between the two series.
Over the course of the show’s ten seasons, the characters consumed an estimated 1,154 cups of coffee at Central Perk, averaging around 5.7 cups per episode.
Janice’s Signature Laugh
Maggie Wheeler, who portrayed Janice, Chandler’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, created Janice’s distinctive laugh as a way to stand out during auditions. The laugh became one of the character’s defining traits and a recurring joke on the show.
Inspiration for the Show’s Layout
The show’s creators drew inspiration from their own lives when designing the layout of Monica’s apartment. The purple door frame and the yellow frame around the peephole were based on Marta Kauffman’s own apartment, while the overall layout was inspired by David Crane’s living space.
David Schwimmer, who portrayed Ross Geller, introduced the distinctive way Ross says “hi” to the show. Schwimmer felt that Ross was the kind of guy who would awkwardly emphasize the word, and this became a trademark of the character.