25 Things Not Even Diehard  Friends Fans Would Know

Twenty-five years ago today, a little show called Friends premiered on NBC. But Friends almost didn’t happen. The show tested poorly with early viewers, and some NBC executives were concerned about its morals. (read: Monica sleeping with someone on the first date).

It almost didn’t look like the Friends that became a show of unparalleled popularity. Phoebe was written as a goth girl. Joey wasn’t supposed to be so daft, but after Matt LeBlanc came into an audition straight from a drinking bender, the creators rethought the character. Courteney Cox was originally cast as Rachel.

Here are some of the most surprising things that make Friends the show that will always be there for you (when the rain starts to pour).

The characters were all named after characters from the soap opera All My Children.

Inspiration needs to come from somewhere, right? Chandler’s name comes from the All My Children‘s Chandler family. Rachel Green, from Janet Green. It goes on. Other All My Children characters include Ross Chandler (really!), Monique (who would become Monica) Cortland, Joey Martin, and Phoebe Taylor Wallingford.

Photo: Reisig & Taylor/NBC/Getty Images.

Friends almost wasn’t called Friends.

There were over 100 titles in the running, including Insomnia Cafe, Six of One, and Across the Hall. Friends was the shortened version of another frontrunner, Friends Like Us. Photo: Reisig & Taylor/NBC/Getty Images.

The fountain scene was absolutely miserable to film. 

It was raining. It was 4 in the morning. The Friends cast was splashing around in a park in the cold — and supposed to look like they were having fun while doing so.

Despite being drenched and exhausted, the cast was filled with undeniable hope. They were at the start of something exciting.

“You’ve got six people in a fountain at 4 in the morning who are about to embark on a journey,” Perry said on a press tour. “And they just have no idea what is in store for them—other than it’s going to be fun, and maybe it will work.”

The credits didn’t take place in New York.

The credits were filmed in the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank. The fountain was built in the 1930s, and was near some row houses. “This could be a park in the Village. You could buy that,” Kevin Bright, an executive producer for Friends, said.

The theme song was a team effort.

Creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane co-wrote the Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There For You,” which eventually hit number 1 on the U.S. top 40 and was an international hit. Photo: Alice S. Hall/NBC/Getty Images.

Ross was 29 years old for three seasons.

While other characters aged, Ross’ age remained static for 60 episodes. Ross also doesn’t seem to know his birthday. At one point, he says his birth month is October; another time, December.Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images.

Jennifer Aniston almost left Friends midway through the first season.

Aniston wanted to be on Friends — but she was already committed to another project. She filmed six episodes of a CBS sitcom called Muddling Through. She filmed Friends with the understanding that if Middling Through was picked up, then she would leave Friends

When CBS aired Muddling Through in the summer, NBC retaliated by releasing TV films adapted from Danielle Steele novels at the exact same time as the CBS show, stealing any potential competition. Photo: Gary Null/NBC/Getty Images.

There was supposed to be a seventh friend to attract an older audience

In his book Generation Friends, Saul Austerlitz reveals that NBC executives wanted showrunners Marta Kauffman and David Crane to add a seventh friend called Pat the Cop or Coffee Joe to attract a Boomer audience. But while writing, all Kauffman could think was how “terrible” Pat the Cop was

“If only NBC would kill Pat the Cop, they promised, they would give their six protagonists parents in notable supporting roles, and find older guest stars to attract a more mature audience,” Austerlitz wrote. NBC agreed.

Jennifer Aniston couldn’t style the Rachel haircut on her own. 

The Rachel haircut ignited a movement. But Jennifer Aniston hated the haircut. According to Michael Canalé, the colorist who created the look with stylist Chris McMillan, it was her least favorite hairstyle. She didn’t know how to recreate the look. Photo: NBC/Getty Images.

The cast negotiated their historically high salaries as a unit.

The cast all earned the same amount in season 1, but come season 2, the salaries differed significantly.

Before season 3, David Schwimmer convinced his co-stars to bargain for salaries as a unit. The show couldn’t afford to lose any one member of Friends, and would have to give in to their demands. Schwimmer and Aniston took pay cuts. The castmembers’ salaries continued to increase each season. By seasons 9 and 10, they had made it up to $1 million an episode, or about $20 million a season. Photo: Gary Null/NBC/Getty Images.

Matthew Perry struggled with addiction throughout Friends.

Perry was addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs while filming, often arriving to set with a terrible hangover. He was drinking a quart of vodka a day. In an interview with the BBC years later, Perry said he has forgotten three seasons of Friends entirely. Now, he’s outspoken about the recovery process.Photo: Reisig & Taylor/NBC/Getty Images.

Believe it or not, the central couple was supposed to be Joey and Monica.

“Initially we thought the big love interest was Joey-Monica. This is before we wrote the script, when we were just pitching the series,” Kauffman told NBC in 2004. Ross and Rachel getting together never occurred to them. Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images.

Gunther was really a barista.

James Michael Tyler got the part because he was the only extra to know how to use an espresso mchine. His hair was bleached every week. Tyler created a whole backstory for him – he was a former soap star who slept in the back room of Central Perk.

Photo: NBC/Getty Images.

The show was filmed in front of a live audience.

Aside from major cliffhanger episodes, everything was filmed in front of an audience of 300 people. Most episodes took six hours to film, so the audience was treated to pizza and freebies. Photo: Gary Null/NBC/Getty Images.

After the pilot, the studio audience was actually asked to slut-shame Monica.

In the first episode, Monica is dumped by a guy after sleeping with him on the first date. The network was worried viewers would judge her.

The studio audience got to make the final call. A survey was handed out with these options: “Do you think for sleeping with a man on the first date Monica is a) a whore, b) a slut, c) a tramp, or d) your dream date?” 

People liked her. The plotline stayed. Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images.

Bruce Willis guest-starred on friends because he lost a bet.

Willis ended up winning an Emmy Award for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy for his work as Paul Stevens, the father of Ross’s girlfriend Elizabeth — and Rachel’s boyfriend.

But his intentions were never to win Emmy. Willis appeared on Friends for free, the result of a dare with Matthew Perry. He donated all the money he made to AIDs foundations.
Photo: NBC/Getty Images.

Joey’s huge white dog statue was really Jennifer Aniston’s.

Aniston’s friend bought her the statue when she started acting. Then, after she was starring in one of the most successful shows ever, Aniston donated it to the set for the episode where Joey comes into a financial windfall.Photo: Photo: J. Delvalle/NBC/Getty Images..

Before being cast in Friends, Matt LeBlanc was dangerously broke.

At the time of the audition, LeBlanc was down to his last $11. At some point, a dentist was going to charge $80 to file down an uneven tooth, but LeBlanc didn’t have the money — so he bought an emory board and filed it down himself. At his Friends‘ audition, LeBlanc revealed a sweeter, goofier side to Joey than originally intended — but producers loved it. Nabbing a spot on Friends the acting equivalent of winning the lottery. Photo: J. Delvalle/NBC/Getty Images.

Rachel is a massive Days of Our Lives fan for a funny reason.

Jenifer Aniston’s father, John Aniston, has been an actor on Days of Our Lives since 1985. Aniston herself wants to make a guest appearance on the soap before her dad retires. Now that’s a crossover.
Photo: NBC/Getty Images.

Courteney Cox was originally offered the part of Rachel.

But Cox had another role in mind: Monica. “For some reason, I thought I related more to Monica, which maybe it’s because I do,” Cox said on the Today show in 2017. “I’m very similar to her…I’m not as clean as Monica, but I am neat.”

Cox made Monica her own. She was written be “tough, defended, cynical, sarcastic” with the “the attitude of Sandra Bernhard or Rosie O’Donnell and the looks of [MTV VJ] Karen Duffy,” according to Saul Austerliz’ Generation Friends.

Lisa Kudrow didn’t know how to play the guitar.

She campaigned to have Phoebe learn to play the bongos instead. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Imagine a Friends and Will & Grace mash-up.

Eric McCormack, who starred as Will in the ground-breaking NBC comedy Will and Grace, was one of the actors who made it to the final rounds of auditions for the role of Ross Gellar.

Ultimately, though, the role was Schwimmer’s. He didn’t even have to audition. Photo: Danny Feld/NBC/Getty Images.

Lisa Kudrow’s pregnancy was woven into the story. Courteney Cox’s was not.

When Kudrow got pregnant, writers had Phoebe volunteer to be a surrogate for her brother. She ended up having triplets. They added padding to make it look realistic.  

Monica wasn’t supposed to be able to have children. So, when she got pregnant, they dressed Cox in baggy clothing.Photo: J. Delvalle/NBC/Getty Images.

After Courteney Cox got married, the credits changed.

After marrying David Arquette in 1999, Courteney Cox changed her name to Courteney Cox-Arquette. For one episode, all of her cast members also had Arquette added to their last names.

Ellen DeGeneres turned down the role of Phoebe. 

Jane Lynch and Kathy Griffin were also in the mix for the part. Phoebe was originally supposed to be goth.

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