Secrets You Never Knew About The Cast Of Friends

For 10 mega-hit seasons, Chandler, Phoebe, Monica, Joey, Ross, and Rachel were there for viewers each Thursday night, forging television history in the process. Nearly two decades after the final episode aired, "Friends" has managed to pull off the rare feat of not only maintaining its popularity but actually increasing it, bringing in new viewers from late-night reruns and streaming. Netflix, in fact, paid a staggering $100 million back in 2018 just to hang onto streaming rights for one more year (via The New York Times).

Now that those still-popular episodes have moved to a new home at HBO Max, the long-awaited, COVID-delayed "Friends" reunion is finally arriving, with James Corden hosting a chat with series stars: Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, and Matthew Perry (via Variety). Given the show's popularity, it's not surprising that the hugely anticipated "Friends Reunion Special" has been hyped with all the hoopla of a royal wedding. 

In the decade-plus since the series finale, each member of the cast has gone on to further acclaim. But despite how much viewers may think they know about the actors behind the Central Perk Six, there's much to be learned, so read on to discover the secrets you never knew about the cast of "Friends."

Matt LeBlanc had $11 in the bank when he was cast as Joey

It's no understatement to point out that being cast as Joey Tribbiani on "Friends" proved to be a turning point for Matt LeBlanc's career. As LeBlanc revealed during a 2019 appearance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," landing the role that would eventually pay him a cool million bucks an episode proved to be a lifesaver. "Yeah, you know when you think, 'Alright, I've got a little money in the bank?' I had, I think, I was down to $11," said LeBlanc, revealing the dire state of his finances at that point. "That's holding out too long. Because even if I said at that point, 'Alright, I'm going to go get a waiter job,' by the time that $11 ran out, it would have been before the first paycheck on that job. I would have starved."

Luckily, LeBlanc has a knack for thriftiness — so much so that he did his own DIY dentistry when the photographer who'd be taking his headshots advised him to have a dentist file down a tooth so it would be even with its partners. "I go to the drug store and buy a three-pack of emery boards," he quipped. "I'm very frugal."

Matthew Perry's stepfather is Dateline anchor Keith Morrison

While Matthew Perry was starring on NBC's "Friends," few people realized that he shared a very close relationship with a big star in the network's news division: Keith Morrison, longtime purveyor of murder and mayhem as host of NBC's "Dateline." 

Morrison's wife, Suzanne Perry, is the actor's mom, the product of her first marriage. When she and Morrison wed in 1981, the Canadian journalist became the future "Friends" star's stepfather. In an interview with People, Morrison gushed about his stepson being "remarkable" since he was a youngster. "He's one of those people who always is the center of the room for a reason and it was so as a kid," Morrison told the magazine. "On the hockey team, I used to take him off to his hockey games on Saturday mornings. It was like Matthew and the hockey team. He was the one who scored all the goals. He was the guy." 

Morrison added that Perry was also a gifted tennis player, as well as "an intense, talented, focused character." To top it all off, Morrison also praised Perry for being smart from the very beginning.

Matthew Perry once got in a fight with a world leader

One fun fact that Matthew Perry's fans might not realize about him is that he actually holds dual citizenship as both an American and a Canadian, born in Massachusetts but raised in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. That was where Perry's mother met husband Keith Morrison, while working as a press secretary for Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. 

Believe it or not, Perry and Trudeau's son, future PM Justin Trudeau, had an altercation while attending the same school. "I think he was excelling at a sport that we weren't as [good at], so it was pure jealousy, and, you know, we beat him up," Perry said during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" "His dad was prime minister at the time but that wasn't the reason we beat him up. I think he was the only kid in school that we could beat up."

Perry pointed out that he and his buddies were actually a few years older than Trudeau, and their beatdown wasn't something worth "bragging about." Added Perry: "This is terrible. I was a stupid kid and I didn't want to beat him up."

The one memento that Matt LeBlanc stole from the Friends set

It's not uncommon for actors who appear on a long-running hit TV series to make off with a memento from the set as a keepsake, and Matt LeBlanc was not immune to that temptation. During a 2019 appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," LeBlanc was asked if he took anything from the set. "I took from the show, it's funny, I took a f**k ton of cash," joked LeBlanc before revealing what he'd actually stolen: the ball from the foosball table in the apartment Joey shared with Chandler. "I have it in my toolbox somewhere," he admitted. "Why it's in my toolbox, I don't know."

LeBlanc also walked off with another memento. "You know the Magna Doodle that was on the back of the apartment door? I clipped that in the end. I couldn't fit the couch in my car," he joked. He no longer has the Magna Doodle, however; he revealed that he gifted it to the "Friends" crew member who wrote the notes that appeared on the device, and changed in each episode. "I stole it and gave it to him, so he's got it," LeBlanc added.

Matt LeBlanc started going grey while Friends was on the air, leading to a hair dye disaster

When "Friends" finally came to an end, NBC offered a consolation prize to fans: "Joey," a new spinoff in which Matt LeBlanc reprised his "Friends" role; low ratings, however, led to its cancellation after just two seasons (via Entertainment Weekly). 

In LeBlanc's subsequent TV projects, fans watched the actor's hair grow progressively grayer. By the time he starred in CBS TV sitcom "Man With a Plan," he was in full-on silver fox mode with a head full of grey hair. While promoting his new show in a 2017 episode of "The Late Late Show with James Corden," LeBlanc revealed he'd actually started going grey years earlier — many years earlier. 

"I think it was, like, the second season of 'Friends,' way back then, I started getting grey hair on the sides," LeBlanc revealed, explaining how more of his hair needed to be dyed with each passing season as his locks continued to grey. One day, LeBlanc explained, he decided to save some time by giving himself a DIY dye job with Just for Men. "I come to work the next day, and my ears are all black," he recalled.

Jennifer Aniston hated her iconic Rachel haircut

During the 10 seasons that "Friends" ruled the ratings on NBC, Jennifer Aniston's hairstyle was the envy of millions of women; according to ABC News, "the Rachel" wound up becoming "one of the most imitated hairstyles of all time." Aniston, however, remained incredulous. "It's one of those things that I think is hysterical, that me of all people, who grew up with the worst hair, is known for that," she revealed.

Ironically, while Aniston's "Friends"-era 'do was hugely popular with the public, she herself was not a fan of the look, created for her by hairstylist Chris McMillan. "I love Chris, and he's the bane of my existence at the same time because he started that damn Rachel, which was not my best look," Aniston told Allure back in 2011. "How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I've ever seen."

According to Aniston, however, she's learned a trick or two from McMillan along the way. "[McMillan] thinks I'm a closet hairdresser," she added. "I'll take the hair-dryer right out of his hands. He'll kill me for saying this, but I've surpassed him in that department: I'm faster with the blow-dryer."

Jennifer Aniston was a high school goth

Jennifer Aniston's famed "Rachel" hairstyle was often imitated, but it's a safe bet that few would have wanted to copy the look that Aniston sported during her teenage years. "High school was tragic," she told People in a 2016 interview. "Just not well-informed. You know, you're experimenting. It was the '80s and I looked like a goth nightmare." 

As Aniston explained, she did have a specific goal in mind with her fashion choices, but it had little to do with actually looking good. "I wasn't going for most beautiful," she continued. "It was, How can I be the most rebelliously unattractive?"

Everything Aniston subsequently came to learn about hair and makeup she attributes to her "glam squad," admitting that they taught her all about beauty. "Whatever was happening before was just unfortunate," she added. "I know how to contour, I know how to blow out my hair. When I was in my 20s, my face was almost a complete circle. So I really needed contouring." Aniston has come to appreciate what she had in retrospect, however, as she's grown older. 

Jennifer Aniston turned down a chance to join the cast of Saturday Night Live

Jennifer Aniston had the opportunity to join the cast of "Saturday Night Live" — but turned it down. As she discussed on "The Howard Stern Show," "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels was keen to cast her. However, at the time Aniston saw herself as a serious actress; she agreed with host Howard Stern's assessment that when she was studying acting at New York's Tisch School of the Arts, she was "a little bit" insulted when an instructor told her she was funny, and should consider comedy. 

Aniston passed on "SNL," she told Stern, because she felt that the environment wouldn't suit her. "I remember showing up and [Adam] Sandler was there, and [David] Spade was there, and I had known them already," she said, explaining she'd met them through somebody she'd worked with on a previous television show. 

Admitting she has "no memory of how it happened," Aniston had a meeting with Michaels. "And I was such a young twit," she recalled, telling Michaels that "the women need to be treated better" on the show, "because it was such a boy's club." Looking back, she admitted, "You're just not the brightest when you're in your early 20s."

David Schimmer was once in an improv troupe with Stephen Colbert

David Schwimmer paid a visit to "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in 2016, and host Stephen Colbert let viewers in on a little-known fact: he and the "Friends" star went to college together, attending Northwestern University. "You and me, we were in an improv group," Colbert told Schwimmer, revealing the name of the troupe was the No Fun Mud Piranhas

Colbert even had a photo of the group, which he showed to viewers while mocking the far bushier hairstyles of their youth. "You have hair that Kylo Ren would love," quipped Colbert, referencing Adam Driver's teen-angst Darth Vader wannabe from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." "At what point did you give up the hair?" asked Colbert, with Schwimmer admitting it was shorn in his senior year. 

Schwimmer and Colbert also waited tables at restaurants in Chicago. In fact, Colbert recalled one time Schwimmer came to dine in a restaurant in which Colbert was working as a waiter, after the former had experienced some success in Hollywood. "I was really jealous," Colbert admitted. "I'll never work, and Dave Schwimmer already has work." Joked Schwimmer, "I was wondering why my soup tasted, just a little Colbert." 

A nose job changed Lisa Kudrow's life

Most celebrities are loath to discuss surgical nips or tucks they've received. Lisa Kudrow, however, was refreshingly candid when she told the Saturday Evening Post about getting a nose job at 16. "That was life altering," admitted the "Friends" star. "I went from, in my mind, hideous, to not hideous. I did it the summer before going to a new high school. So there were plenty of people who wouldn't know how hideous I looked before."

Looking back at her younger years, Kudrow credits two people for her successful acting career: "Saturday Night Live" alum Jon Lovitz and late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien. Lovitz, Kudrow explained, "sent me to The Groundlings," citing her experience in the legendary Los Angeles improv troupe. "That was his recommendation," she recalled. "That was the single best direction I ever got. It was an important suggestion ... I learned the most at The Groundlings."

As for O'Brien, Kudrow met him at her very first Groundlings improv class. "He was so impressive that he saved me from quitting the whole notion of acting," she revealed, admitting she had a preconceived notion that "actors were egocentric people with bad judgment."

Lisa Kudrow briefly dated Conan O'Brien

Not only did "Friends" star Lisa Kudrow know Conan O'Brien before they each became famous, they even dated for a little while. "He was really smart, really funny, and he thought I was funny," Kudrow said in an interview with More magazine, via the New York Daily News

Their romantic entanglement, however, was short-lived; as Kudrow told the magazine, they went on a few dates "but found we were better as friends," she explained. In fact, they've remained friends ever since. Kudrow even appeared in a special edition of O'Brien's talk show, "Conan," filmed in the very room in which they first met at that Groundlings improv class. "This is an inspirational message to anyone who's in a little improv class," O'Brien told viewers. "I swear to God, this is how you do it. You go there and you meet amazing people. Whether it's an acting class, an improv class, or doing stand-up in a club, that's where you meet people, and you're young and you have dreams and it can really work out pretty beautifully."

Courteney Cox got her big break dancing in a Bruce Springsteen video

While most of the "Friends" cast were more or less unknowns when they were cast, Courteney Cox already had a high-profile (albeit short-lived) TV series under her belt, "Misfits of Science," cancelled after its first season. 

Prior to that, Cox experienced a certain degree of instant fame after appearing in Bruce Springsteen's 1984 music video for "Dancing in the Dark." In the video, the Boss is performing in front of an audience, with Cox positioned in the front row. Near the video's end, Springsteen extends his hand to Cox and pulls her onstage, the two closing out the video as they dance together. According to the Star Tribune, in Springsteen's autobiography "Born to Run," he revealed he thought Cox was just a random fan; it wasn't until later that director Brian DePalma told him she'd been hired at a casting call in New York, and he'd flown her out to the video shoot in Minnesota.

Speaking with People, Cox revealed she wasn't particularly proud of her onstage moves with the rock legend. "That was not good dancing on my part," she admitted.

Courteney Cox launched a career as a director

Since the end of "Friends" in 2004, Courteney Cox has expanded her skill set, demonstrating talent on the other side the camera as a director. As her IMDb page indicates, she began her directing career with the 2008 short "The Monday Before Thanksgiving," in which she also starred alongside Oscar winner Laura Dern. She followed that up by directing "Talhotblond," a 2012 Lifetime made-for-TV movie based on a bizarre true story.

Cox made her big-screen directing debut in 2014 with the comedy-drama "Just Before I Go," starring Seann William Scott as a guy who returns to his hometown to make amends before committing suicide. She also stepped behind the camera for her sitcom "Cougar Town," directing 12 episodes during the show's six-season run (three on ABC until its cancellation, then three more after being picked up by TBS).

Cox also helmed the music video for Kodaline's "Love Will Set You Free," and took to Twitter after filming. "Hanging with Kodaline after a day of shooting their next video," she wrote, accompanying a photo of herself and the members of the band.

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David Schwimmer pushed Friends to embrace more diversity

While "Friends" has remained as popular as ever since ending in 2004, the world in which it continues to exist has changed considerably. While the show received accolades during its 10-season run, in the years that followed it's been hit with criticism over its lack of diversity. In 2020, "Friends" co-creator Marta Kaufman admitted she wasn't proud of that particular aspect of the show, stating she "would have made very different decisions" (via Deadline). 

David Schwimmer, however, couldn't help but notice the show's diversity problem while it was on the air, and did what he could to add some color to a show that centered on six white people. As Schwimmer told The Guardian, "I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color. One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian American woman, and later I dated African American women. That was a very conscious push on my part."