‘Friends: The Reunion’ dove back into the journey of ‘Friends’, exploring its evolution as the most celebrated, awarded and loved sitcom that dominated the television scene for more than a decade after its debut in 1994.
The long-awaited reunion brought its iconic six-member cast to the original set after 17 years for a special one-off unscripted episode, as they delve deep into past memories, to share some of the most surprising and intriguing revelations about their on-screen and off-screen lives while filming the show.
Here are five major revelations from ‘Friends: The Reunion’:
1. Rewriting Monica and Chandler’s relationship
According to producer Kevin Bright, the audience response to the episode titled ‘The One with the Truth about London’ from the seventh season of ‘Friends’ was ‘insane’. It led creators to rethink Monica and Chandler relationship.
Though their liaison in this end of the season episode was meant to be brief, seeing the powerful reaction from the audience, the creators decided to explore it further, expanding it from ‘one night in London thing’ to make it a ‘thing-thing’ in the next season.
That took the show to another level of farce as both tried to hide the truth about their “still being in London mode” from other friends. The idea that came from the audience after watching them together under the sheets, saw phenomenal success.
2. Jennifer and David crushing on each other off-screen
The biggest revelation of the ‘Friends: The Reunion’ was the real-life Aniston-Schwimmer crush. Schwimmer revealed that he had a major crush on her during season one, which she affirmed was reciprocated.
He explained that though they were crushing hard on each other, since one of them was always in a relationship, they were like two ships passing. “And we never crossed that boundary.”
Others acknowledged they both would cuddle and look out for each other on the sets. She remembered telling him once that it would be ‘such a bummer, if they had their first kiss on national television’. And it did happen on the show, at the café — Central Perk
She, however, divulged that they channeled their real-life adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachael on-screen, which invited lots of cheers from the audience.
3. Matthew Perry’s fears
As they shot in the studio with a live audience, when a joke didn’t end well, the creative team on ‘Friends’ would improvise and recreate scenes to make them react better.
Courteney Cox would feel rewarded when they laughed, however, Perry did not enjoy the energy of live audience during the shoot like the others.
He felt paranoid about people not laughing over his jokes. If they didn’t, he would go into convulsions. “I felt that every single night. It was not healthy, for sure.” He would freak out and feel he would die, if they didn’t laugh.
This is a revelation, not only for the audience, but for the rest of the friends too! He confesses to have never shared it with them.
4. Matt LeBlanc’s freak shoulder injury
Is LeBlanc superstitious? Well, once on set for a scene during filming the third season, he had to jump on a sofa. While doing retakes for getting the stunt right, he dislocated his shoulder.
He recalled that they used to follow a little ritual before starting each single shoot where they would all huddle. That day when he got injured, he realized that they had not done it because the shoot had started late and they were in a hurry to finish. Thereafter, he always insisted that they huddled before the shoot began, to avoid any such freak incidents.
This was one episode that the creators had planned to wrap up fast, but they didn’t know events would take such a turn making it the longest to shoot. He finally returned with a sling on his shoulder and the episode was aptly titled, ‘The One Where No One’s Ready’.
5. The difficult casting process
While Lisa Kudrow was a no brainer for Phoebe, the rest of the cast took quite a while to find. Despite testing numerous people, the creators couldn’t find Chandler until they laid eyes on Perry. Unfortunately, he had already shot a pilot for another WB show which nobody believed would be picked up. Hence, they swooped Perry for themselves.
The character of Ross was written keeping Schwimmer in mind. But by the time the script became ready, he had quit TV after few bad experiences on earlier shows. The creators revealed that he came around only after much begging and beseeching apart from, of course, a gift basket and a copy of script.
As per Friends’ creator, Marta Kauffman, casting Rachel was the hardest. The audience might not have taken somewhat selfish Rachel very well, if the actress cast for the role wasn’t correct. “In the wrong hands, you don’t like her”. Aniston had to plead with the makers of CBS series ‘Muddling Through’ that she was shooting for, to make way for Rachel.
Also, Cox, initially cast to play Rachel, managed to persuade the creators that she was certainly more of a Monica.