Rumors And Spoilers Revealed About The Friends Reunion Special

There are few shows that have had the same impact as "Friends." The iconic sitcom was hugely popular while it was on the air from 1994 until 2004, and with episode reruns and a sizable amount of time on Netflix, it was treated to a resurgence in the 2010s and beyond. On the surface, the show seems relatively simple: "Friends" follows the stories of six neighbors, siblings, and pals living their lives in New York City. But there's something about it that is so comforting, so nostalgic, that generations of viewers have found themselves on the "were they on a break or not?" argument. 

"Friends" is, without question, as popular today as it was the day it aired — so hold onto your hats, because a "Friends" reunion is coming to HBO Max. The highly anticipated reunion show was announced some time ago, but because of production halts, we've all had to wait. To that end, it's been so long since "Friends" aired that the eagerness surrounding the reunion show has been intense. So in preparation, we've collected all the information out there — this is what you need to know about the rumors and spoilers that have been revealed about the "Friends" reunion special.

There is a huge lineup of guest stars that will appear in the 'Friends' reunion special

It's safe to say that we all knew that the stars of "Friends" — Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc — would all be appearing on the reunion show. But what if we told you that a whole crowd of celebrities are joining the iconic six pals to make their reunion that much more special? As noted by Variety, the stars of "Friends" will be joined by the likes of David Beckham, Reese Witherspoon, and James Corden during the show. Want some more names? Let's add Justin Bieber, BTS, Cindy Crawford, and Lady Gaga. 

If that isn't enough celebrity for you, don't worry, because Cara Delevingne, Elliott Gould, Kit Harington, and Tom Selleck (who played Monica's love interest, Richard) will also be at the reunion special. And there are a couple more celebrities that will be there that we need to include, such as Mindy Kaling, James Michael Tyler, Maggie Wheeler, and Malala Yousafzai. Yes, Malala will be there, and we couldn't be more stoked. As noted by People, many celebrities shared their excitement when the "Friends" reunion show was announced, so this doesn't come as a huge surprise.

The 'Friends' reunion show is unscripted

One of the best parts about "Friends" was its quick-witted script. The jokes weren't just your classic slapstick style; they were integrated into conversations in a way that was organic, hilarious, and of course, timeless. But unlike the original show, the HBO Max "Friends" reunion episode is unscripted. As such, the emotions of the show and the gravity of the reunion is said to have run wild. While appearing on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Courteney Cox — who plays the lovable Monica Geller — revealed that the experience of the unscripted reunion was "unbelievable." 

As noted by Deadline, Cox's appearance on the talk show made it clear that the unscripted show was "as emotional as anyone would have expected," so that's code for bust out the tissues when you watch. Cox went on to share with DeGeneres some behind-the-scenes tidbits from the original "Friends" series. For example, the opening credits, where the cast is dancing in the fountain, was not nearly as fun as it looked. "I remember Matthew Perry saying at one point ... he was like, 'I can't remember a time that I wasn't in this fountain,'" Cox shared. Needless to say, we can't wait to watch.

The pandemic slowed production, but this 'Friends' actress said it was for the best

The coronavirus pandemic put a lot of plans on hold. Like a lot, and unfortunately, the "Friends" reunion show was one of the many projects that was subjected to postponement after postponement. Despite the setback, however, the cast of "Friends" seemed to handle it as best they could. Jennifer Aniston even told Deadline that the postponement wasn't going to get her down, and that despite the changed plans, the episode was still "going to be super." 

"Unfortunately it's very sad that we had to move it again," Aniston said. "It was, 'How do we do this with live audiences?' This is not a safe time. Period. That's the bottom line. It's not a safe time to do it." Aniston continued by saying, however, that the extended period of time gave her and the cast a chance to "make it even more exciting and more fun" than originally planned. "So I choose to see it as the glass is half-full that it got postponed," she explained. "You're never going to get rid of 'Friends,' sorry. You're stuck with us for life guys."

A celebrity has been tapped to host the 'Friends' reunion

Since the "Friends" reunion show is not technically a revival episode (more on that later), the "Friends" reunion on HBO Max is set to feature a celebrity host. While there's been some conflicting reporting, it's safe to say that no one outside of the production knows who it is. Lisa Kudrow dropped hints while on Andy Cohen's SiriusXM show, "Radio Andy," and stirred some rumors that Ellen DeGeneres was slated to host the show. "I don't know that that's been decided," Kudrow said once Cohen asked her if the daytime talk show host would be joining the cast during the reunion episode. 

However, Kudrow's cast mate David Schwimmer cleared up the record later on; in March of 2021, Schwimmer appeared on the same radio show and told Cohen that DeGeneres would not be the host. "Can you say who is?" an adamant Cohen asked. Schwimmer said that he didn't think he could spill the tea, but he did reveal, "I can tell you it's not Ellen, it's not Billy Crystal. Andy, is it you?" We'll just have to wait and see who the mystery host is!

The budget for the 'Friends' reunion was out of this world

We all know that the cast of "Friends" got paid some serious cash for their performances on the original show, but the reunion show set to stream on HBO Max is no exception. According to Variety, the "Friends" stars — Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, and David Schwimmer — are all set to rack in "at least $2.5 million for participating in the special." That's $2.5 million each, and no, we're not kidding. 

This is, however, not the first time that the cast of "Friends" have been paid a hefty amount for their work on the sitcom. As noted by Insider, all six of the show's main stars made $1 million per episode at one point, equating to $22 million every season. At the time, "Friends" was pulling in about 24.7 million viewers every week, which might as well be the jackpot for advertisers. A bonus caveat was that "Friends" was increasing its popularity with young people, the show and the advertisers' target audience — as such, the main cast negotiated their ridiculously high salaries, but honestly, we don't blame them.

A portion of the 'Friends' reunion was filmed outside due to coronavirus restrictions

The coronavirus pandemic pushed a lot of activities outdoors — even in the winter months — in the interest of healthy air circulation. Many of us have come to know the realities of outdoor dining, but what about outdoor working? That was the situation for the "Friends" reunion show, as explained by WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt. 

As noted by Variety, Greenblatt spoke at the NAB Show Executive Leadership Summit about the challenges that the reunion faced, production being just one hurdle. "At first we thought, shows will be delayed for a month or two at the most, and now it seems like it's going to be far longer than that," he explained. "We're holding out for being able to get this special done hopefully by the end of the summer if the stars align and hopefully we can get back into production." 

It did all come together in the end, and David Schwimmer revealed while on Andy Cohen's SiriusXM radio show that production "figured out a way ... to film it safely." "There's gonna be a portion of it that we film outside because of, you know, for safety protocols," he said.

The 'Friends' reunion episode will include pre-recorded footage

If you're confused about the format of the "Friends" reunion show, don't be — there's been a pretty tight lid on the details about the episode, and what we've learned is from what we've pieced together from the cast members' comments. What we do know, in addition to there being a celebrity host and outdoor sequences, is that there are portions of the "Friends" reunion show that have been pre-recorded. 

As noted by Us Weekly, Lisa Kudrow explained on the "Literally! With Rob Lowe" podcast that some of the footage that we'll see in the episode was filmed a while back. "There's different facets to it, and we already shot packages of things," she revealed. "I pre-shot something already, so we're definitely doing it because I already shot a little something." 

As for the experience of filming, Kudrow said that she experienced every emotion under the sun. "I got emotional all over again," Kudrow continued. "It's also really just so thrilling. We got to be together and [Matt] LeBlanc tells a story like no one else, he is so great. I laugh a lot, that's my contribution." Can't wait.

This actress from 'Friends' had this to say about the reunion

It always seemed like there was just a hint of magic when it came to "Friends." It's difficult to put your finger on exactly what it was, but every time the six main stars were on-screen, something amazing happened. 

It's clear that the audience picked up on just how special the show was, but did the actors realize just how much influence they had? Lisa Kudrow explained, as noted by The Sunday Times, that the "Friends" reunion episode allowed for her and her five cast mates to once again come together on stage, and it was a magical experience. "No audience has seen us together since the show was over. We will reminisce, talk about what was going on behind the scenes," she shared. "It's six of us coming together for the first time in I don't know how long." 

Kudrow also revealed that there were so many stories and experiences between her and her cast members that it's taken Matt LeBlanc or Jennifer Aniston to remind her of just all that happened. We can't wait to see what takes place when these six get back together for the first time on-screen.

It's not just the people in front of the camera that are reuniting for the 'Friends' reunion

While we may have watched Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, and David Schwimmer evolve on-screen throughout "Friends," the show wouldn't have been a success without the production team behind it. Another amazing tidbit about the "Friends" reunion episode is that it brought together the show's creative producing team — talk about a full circle moment. 

As noted by Hollywood Life, "Friends" executive producers David Crane, Kevin Bright, and Marta Kauffman came back to work on the reunion episode, all credited as executive producers just like old times. They were joined by Ben Winston, the co-executive producer of "The Late Late Show with James Corden," who directed the special and served as a producer. To top off the list, the six main cast members also contributed to the reunion episode as executive producers, and were joined by producers Emma Conway and James Longman as well. A show is only as good as the people who get to set early, stay late, and do everything in their power to make it a success — we're so glad "Friends" brought the original crew back together.

The 'Friends' actors won't be in character during the reunion special

This should be stated very clearly — the "Friends" reunion will not see the six main actors reprising their roles from the iconic sitcom. Rather, the episode is more of a reflection on what "Friends" was, and how the show evolved with time. HBO Max even released a statement about it to avoid any disappointment. "In order to avoid any misunderstanding about what this special is, we want to make it very clear that this is not a new, original episode of the series," HBO Max wrote, as noted by Harper's Bazaar. "The cast will be appearing as themselves, not as their beloved characters." Ok, got that cleared up. 

Additionally, on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" (via Today) Matt LeBlanc shared that, "It's more like the six of us together talking about the good old days. We got the band back together without the instruments." And in a statement obtained by Refinery29, HBO Max's chief content officer, Kevin Reilly, echoed the sentiment by saying that the "Friends" reunion show was an opportunity to celebrate the sitcom that caught on "with viewers generation after generation." So don't expect a half an hour "Where Are They Now?" episode, that's not what the "Friends" reunion is going for.

There will not be a 'Friends' revival, despite the excitement for the reunion show

So you might be asking yourself — if there's a "Friends" reunion show, should we expect a revival season? The short answer is no. "Friends" creator Marta Kauffman sat down with Rolling Stone in 2019 and explained that while she understands the public want for the show to come back, it's not in the cards. "It's a comfort-food show. These are trying times, and certain people want the comfort food rather than the difficult, mean-spirited kind of show," she explained. "It's warm, it's cozy, [the characters] love each other. What's not to love about that?" 

But despite her understanding of just how beloved "Friends" is, Kauffman remained adamant that there will not be a "Friends" revival. She said that at the time the show was made, the friends at the center of it were each other's family. That would not be the case in a revival season, and thus the purpose of the show would be gone. "All we'd be doing is putting those six actors back together, but the heart of the show would be gone," Kauffman added. So enjoy the reunion episode, because a revival is not in the cards.

The 'Friends' reunion show was filmed in front of a live studio audience

One of the best aspects of "Friends" was the fact that it was filmed in front of a live studio audience for all 10 seasons. Not only did it cue when we were supposed to laugh at home, but the reactions to the authentic performances by the actors made the show that much better. 

And just like the original series, the "Friends" reunion special was filmed in front of a live studio audience — a heartwarming, full circle moment. According to People, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt wanted to make sure that having a live audience was a part of the reunion experience — and honestly, we're glad, because the idea of having a virtual reunion where all the actors were just in their own little squares on the screen does not sound like it would do "Friends" justice. "We do think there's a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together," Greenblatt said about the choice. "And we didn't want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms."