The cast of 'Friends' before 'Friends'
The actors and actresses of the NBC show 'Friends' weren't friends until September 1994 - that's when the legendary comedy series was released. But the cast did already have somewhat of an acting career. Let's see how the 'Friends' cast was before 'Friends'!
She was without a doubt the most famous person in the cast before the show started. Since she'd appeared in 1984 in Bruce Springsteen's music video, 'Dancing in the Dark', her career hadn't stopped growing.
Believe it or not, in the beginning, her career made a funny turn in the science world. That's why we first saw her in the show 'Misfits of Science' (1985-1986) and in the movie 'Cocoon: The Return' (1988). She was cast as Sara, one of the scientists of the Oceanographic Institute where the aliens arrived.
Image: 20th Century Fox
Before 'Friends', Courteney Cox had a relevant role in a comedy series: 'Family Ties.' Between 1987 and 1989, she appeared in 19 episodes playing the role of Lauren Miller, a psychology student who has a relationship with Alex P. Keaton, Michael J. Fox's character.
Till 1994, the young Courteney Cox had success in cinema and TV. We could see her in shows like 'Murder She Wrote', 'The Trouble with Larry', the film 'Masters of the Universe' (photo), and 'Blue Desert.'
Image: The Cannon Group, Inc.
Right when she started on 'Friends' in 1994, she was shot to international fame. Her role as Melissa Robinson was the perfect counterpart for Jim Carrey in the memorable 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.'
Image: Morgan Creek Productions
Weeks after 'Ace Ventura' was released, Courteney Cox auditioned for the role of Rachel Green in 'Friends.' Jennifer Aniston and her hair stole the role from her. However, producers saw in Cox the perfect Monica Geller. And they were not wrong.
While she'd also been acting in TV and films for 6 years, Jennifer Aniston did not have the same recognition as her friend Courteney Cox. An example is 'Camp Cucamonga' (1990), where she shared the screen with Jaleel White, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, and Candance Cameron. The film wasn't much of a success.
'Ferris Bueller' (TV series, 1990-1991) wasn't a top project either — although she was working with Charlie Schlatter, a consolidated teen star. Even if the show had just one season, Jennifer at least found a (temporary) love interest: her co-star.
Before they even were Rachel and Blossom, the actresses coincided in the show 'Molloy.' It wasn't much of a hit — it only lasted 7 episodes. Still, Mayim Bialik has warm memories of the cooperation and left us with this iconic image on her Instagram account.
With beautiful hair that would later become a signature style, Jennifer Aniston played the role of Suzie Brooks in two episodes of 'Herman's Head:' A comedy series that literally showed us how the mind of the protagonist worked.
Although participating in just one episode in 1992 of 'Quantum Leap,' her iconic looks as Kiki Wilson hinted at what Rachel Green would become just two years later: a fashion icon.
A year before working in 'Friends', Jennifer Aniston tried her luck in the B-horror movie 'Leprechaun.' It was a cheesy slasher film that, with time, became a genre's cult film.
Image: Trimark Pictures
Opposite from Courteney Cox, Aniston auditioned for the role of Monica Geller. Producers decided that, based on her style and hair (yes, minor details sometimes become essential in casting), she would be perfect for the Rachel Green part.
The actress's hair was such a success that, after only one season, the 'Rachel Green haircut' — created by Aniston's personal hairstylist, Chris Mcmillan — was already extremely popular. By the way, Jennifer Aniston was totally against the haircut, and in the next season, she changed it.
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow started a professional relationship in 1994 that would last 10 years. But through all those years, the three actresses have built a real friendship that, to this day, is going strong. They have been together through the good and the bad, and of the latter, they know a lot.
With more shadows than lights, Lisa Kudrow already had a 5-year acting career before she starred in 'Mad About You.' In the comedy series led by Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, Ursula Buffay appeared in 24 episodes. Yes, Phoebe's evil twin sister already existed before 'Friends' and that's why it became part of the character's history in the show.
The writers of the show thought that Kudrow's presence in 'Friends' and 'Mad About You' could be a little confusing for the audience. The two shows were programmed with just half an hour difference. That's why they decided the two characters would become twin sisters: Phoebe and Ursula.
A year before becoming Phoebe, Kudrow was almost cast as Roz Doyle in 'Frasier.' The role ended up going to Peri Gilpin.
In the 'Friends' episode called 'The One that Could Have Been: Part One,' we can see an imaginary reality in which each character is living a completely opposite life. So, could we imagine how 'Friends' could have been if the producers had cast the original actors they had in mind?
If the original cast hadn't made it in the NBC series, we would have seen a completely different show. These were the other options: Jon Cryer or Jon Favreau as Chandler, Hank Azaria as Joey, Tea Leoni as Rachel, Janeane Garofalo or Leah Remini as Monica, Eric McCormack as Ross, and Jane Krakowski as Phoebe.
What's more, not only could we have seen a completely different cast, but the show could have also had a different title. Some of the actors auditioned for a show called 'Six of One' and others for 'Friends Like Us.' In the end, the series was called 'Friends'.
Not many people know that was David Schwimmer the first actor to be cast. Ross Geller was specifically written for him. Kevin S. Bright, the producer, had already worked with the actor in shows like 'NYPD Blue,' 'The Wonder Years,' and 'L.A. Law.'
Ever since he attended a show given by Sir Ian McKellen, David Schwimmer decided he wanted to become an actor (how could he not!).
Actually, the actor had the opportunity to meet the man that inspired him to become an actor: Sir Ian McKellen. They would meet on the set of the only movie they did together: 'Apt Pupil' (1998).
Before 'Friends', the actor was part of another insanely famous cast. Schwimmer was one of the members of the Arnold Family in 'The Wonder Years'. His hairstyle in the show served as inspiration for the character of Russ, Ross's nemesis in the second season of 'Friends'.
Perhaps thanks to the 20 million dollars a year the actor is still earning for the show's copyright and royalties, David Schwimmer's acting career is not as prolific as it used to be. However, the theater company he founded when he was just 18 years old, Lookingglass, is still active.
Matt LeBlanc worked many years as a carpenter until he decided to move to New York and follow his dream of becoming an actor. In the Big Apple, he started working as a model and making appearances in music videos for artists such as Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, and Alanis Morissette.
His biggest success in the '80s came with a Heinz spot that turned him into a very recognizable face in the United States. In the picture, we can see an image of him in the ketchup ad.
Matt LeBlanc was part of the shows 'Married with Children', 'Top of the Heap' and 'Vinnie & Bobby', but his participation wasn't very successful or long.
Image: 'Vinnie & Bobby,' Fox
In fact, when he was called to give life to Joey Tribbiani, the actor had just declared bankruptcy. Later, he would make a million per episode…
Many were surprised when they could see Matt LeBlanc's hair completely white after the show ended. The actor was just 37, but, as he told James Corden, he started dying his hair in 'Friends' second season.
Before smashing it in the role of Chandler Bing, Matthew Perry was a premature tennis star in his natal Canada. His parents were famous, and the actor belonged to the Canadian elite. In fact, he was one of the classmates of Justin Trudeau, Canada's actual Prime Minister.
Matthew Perry confessed to People magazine that when he arrived in New York, expecting to be a successful actor, he felt an unexpected pressure that led him to addictions.
Before portraying Chandler Bing, the actor made appearances in series like 'Growing Pains,' 'Dream On,' 'Second Chance,' and 'Home Free.' He even appeared in an episode of 'Beverly Hills, 90210.' His seductive and young look fitted perfectly with the role.
Image: 'Dance Till Dawn' with Christina Applegate, NBC
His charisma was key for the 'Friends' creators to choose him as Chandler Bing. In fact, because they had previously met him in 'Dream On,' Perry was the first option for the casting team.
Image: 'Growing Pains,' ABC
Matthew Perry almost rejected the opportunity of joining the NBC show because he was going to be part of another project. Still, destiny wanted the actor to say 'yes' to Chandler Bing and become part of the history of television thanks to the comedy series.
We know this is hard to believe, but the last episode of 'Friends' was released eighteen years ago on May 4, 2004. And to this day, it's still one of the most streamed series in TV history in the United States, with more than 52,5 million viewers.
After a delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the reunion of 'Friends' took place in May 2021.
We have seen these actors and actresses since before the NBC show was even released. And, although 'Friends' ended, we are able to see the cast together on social media as true real friends. That's why they will always be like friends to us.
Picture: Instagram, @jenniferaniston