The Real Reason David Schwimmer Almost Didn't Star In Friends

David Schwimmer has had a long and successful career in the entertainment industry, and it's no secret that much of his notoriety comes from the fact that he starred as Ross Gellar on the hit sitcom "Friends" from 1994-2004 (via IMDb). Before skyrocketing to fame, though, Schwimmer had notable roles on shows like "The Wonder Years," "L.A. Law," and ”Blossom" in the early '90s, and also had roles in movies like "Twenty Bucks," "Flight of the Intruder," "Crossing the Bridge," and the made-for-TV movie, "A Deadly Silence."


Fred Savage, who famously starred as Kevin in "The Wonder Years," opened up about what it was like working with Schwimmer on set before he got his big break on "Friends" in an interview with Esquire in 2014. "We had David Schwimmer, Alicia Silverstone, Carla Gugino, John Corbett, Ben Stein. I like anyone who played one of Karen's boyfriends. Like Kevin, I really liked older, cool guys because it made me feel older and cool," Savage explained to the outlet. "We did a thing with David Schwimmer where we rode around on a motorcycle together. He was so nice and warm and cool. When I see him today we're still friends."

David Schwimmer almost didn't star in 'Friends' for this reason

In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2012 — nearly a decade before the highly anticipated "Friends: The Reunion" special, which premiered on HBO Max on May 27 — David Schwimmer opened up about almost passing up his iconic "Friends" role, telling the outlet he had other projects he was dedicated to at the time. He was also "fed up" with the industry after a bad experience on an unnamed, short-lived series he starred in.


"I told my agents not to send me anything," he said. "I was in Chicago doing a play with my company [Lookingglass Theatre Company.] I got the call from my agent, and she said, 'Look, I know you told me not to send you anything, but there's a show I really think you should take a look at.'"

Schwimmer's agent went on to explain that the show was written by Marta Kauffman and David Krane, who wrote the pilot for a show he had previously auditioned for. "And I go, 'Oh, yes. I remember loving the writing.' And she said the magic words to me: 'It's an ensemble show. There's no star. There are six people, all similar age,'" Schwimmer revealed. "And I say, 'O.K., I'll read it, but I'm not going to do it.'"


David Schwimmer explained that a famous director convinced him to take the role

"Then I got a phone call from [actor and director] Robby Benson in Chicago, who is friends with Marta and David. I was a huge fan of Robby Benson, and I had never met him," the "People vs. O.J. Simpson" actor continued (via Vanity Fair). "Out of the blue, I get this phone call from him. He said, 'Look, I really think you should consider doing this. At least go and meet Marta and David and talk about it.' And then Jim Burrows called. Jim is my idol. I just think the world of him. It was hugely flattering, and I thought, Well, it's quite disrespectful with all this talent asking to meet and just consider it. I'd be an idiot not to go."


Former executive vice president of business affairs, NBC and NBC Studios, Harold Brook, knew from the get-go that they absolutely needed Schwimmer to round out the cast, telling Vanity Fair, "With 'Friends,' the last actor to sign was David Schwimmer. Everybody loved Schwimmer, and his agent knew it."

You can catch Schwimmer and his former "Friends" castmates Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, and Matt LeBlanc, as well as former guest stars Reese Witherspoon and Tom Selleck, and mega-fans like Justin Bieber and Mindy Kaling, reunite on the "Friends: The Reunion" special, now streaming on HBO Max.