TV & Movies

These Then Vs. Now Photos Of The Friends Cast Are An Emotional Roller Coaster

Here’s how the iconic stars stuck together over the years.

by Shannon Barbour and Grace Wehniainen
385848 01: Cast members of NBC's comedy series "Friends." Pictured: David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, ...
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Twenty-seven years after Friends first premiered, the original cast, guest stars, and famous friends are coming together to celebrate the show’s iconic run and impact on pop culture. As we await the reunion on May 27, here’s how much has changed for the stars since those humble beginnings.

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While promoting Ace Ventura in early 1994 (months before Friends), Courteney Cox revealed her plans for that pivotal year to reporter Jimmy Carter. “I’m gonna try to stay a little bit more focused and try to be a little more ambitious ... I’m gonna find that endzone this year.”

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Cox certainly did find her endzone on one of TV’s biggest sitcoms ever — and over 25 years later, she’s still a fan. In 2020, she told Ellen that she was watching the series during the pandemic (same). “It’s really good, it turns out. The Thanksgiving episodes are my favorite.”

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Viewers first met Phoebe Buffay in 1994 — but by then, Lisa Kudrow was already an NBC mainstay on Mad About You as prickly waiter Ursula. As Friends co-creator David Crane told EW, the Mad About You writers graciously allowed Ursula to be written as Phoebe's twin on Friends.

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From Booksmart to Feel Good, Kudrow never stopped making us laugh in the years since Friends. The actor revealed on Conan that the reunion would feature footage she’d “never seen before,” including shots of the famous theme song fountain.

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As Matthew Perry recounted to Seth Meyers in 2015, he almost turned down Friends because he was attached to a show called LAX 2194, where he would have played a baggage handler for alien travelers. Fortunately, fate had other plans for the sweet, sardonic Chandler Bing.

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Well, after Friends, Perry’s iconic Chandler-isms never really went away. In 2021, the actor even revealed a line of tees that read, “Could I be anymore vaccinated?” We can only imagine how diligently Monica would be fortifying the couple’s home against COVID...

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In a Season 1 ET set visit, Jennifer Aniston talked about the cast’s friendship. “We’re pretty much in shock every day that we come to work and just realize how well we get along,” she said. The cast then took turns crashing her interview in a myriad of playful, pranky ways.

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In addition to staying close to the core cast, Aniston recently worked with Reese Witherspoon, aka her on-screen sister Jill, as co-stars and executive producers on The Morning Show. The pair even revisited their most memorable lines and sartorial moments for Access in 2019.

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For Matt LeBlanc, getting cast on Friends sounds a bit like Joey’s miraculous turn as Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives. As LeBlanc told Conan O’Brien in 2019, he was down to his last $11 before landing the role of Joey. “Now that’s holding out too long,” he said.

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LeBlanc has starred in several shows since Friends, including Man with a Plan. Sadly, Joey might not be quite as successful an actor in 2021 — the Friends men told ET that he’d probably be unemployed or running a garage with 10 kids. But as long as there’s a sub shop nearby...

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In a 1995 Oprah interview, David Schwimmer revealed that the cast was “not really investing too much emotionally” in each other at first in case the show wasn’t picked up or the cast was swapped out. Friends without Dr. Ross “MY SANDWICH!” Geller? Impossible to imagine.

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Clearly, those worries evaporated once Friends proved it was there to stay. Schwimmer told People ahead of the reunion that his Friends friends have helped each other through “different obstacles and challenges” over the years.

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