This Comedy Legend Got Rejected By ‘Friends’ Twice

Given the fact that Friends has become one of the most legendary sitcoms in television history, it can be easy for some people to rewrite history. After all, since people know the legacy the show would cement, it is tempting to pretend like they somehow knew how popular the show would be before it became a sensation. In reality, however, there was no way to know how successful Friends would go on to be once it took the world by storm.

Even though Friends seemed like it could quickly be canceled upon its premiere or it might have become just another show, there was at least one actor who really wanted to be a part of it. After all, an actor who is a comedy legend wanted to join Friends’ cast so badly that he auditioned for the show twice. Unfortunately for him, he wound being quickly rejected after both auditions.

Near Misses

During Friends’ 10 season run, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer all came to own their beloved characters. In fact, all six of those actors were so excellent in their roles that it is hard to imagine anyone else bringing their highly memorable characters to life.

Of course, at any given time there are so many talented young actors looking for their big break that any notable role is bound to have a slew of people lining up to jump through hoops to land it. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that there were slews of actors who tried their hardest to land one of Friends’ lead roles. In fact, several big-name actors were once in serious consideration to star in Friends.

Right off the hop, one of the most interesting potential Friends castings is Vince Vaughn since he once got the opportunity to audition to play Joey. Even though Matt LeBlanc’s portrayal of Joey is beloved for good reason, it actually seems possible that Vaughn would have done a good job in the role. After all, Vaughn certainly has been known to play womanizers on the big screen in the past. The only question is if the notoriously fast-talking Vaughn could convincingly play the dim-witted Joey.

Some of the actors who were considered to play Friends’ Phoebe include Jane Lynch, Kathy Griffin, and Ellen DeGeneres, the latter of which reportedly was offered the role but she turned it down. On top of that, Eric McCormack was in the running to play Ross. Rachel was a hard character to cast as Elizabeth Berkley, Tiffani Thiessen, Jane Krakowski, and Tea Leoni almost landed the role. Amazingly enough, Jon Cryer, Craig Bierko, and Jon Favreau could have played Chandler even though Matthew Perry was so perfect for the role. Finally, it has to be noted that Nancy McKeon, Leah Remini, and Janeane Garofalo came close to playing Monica.

Failing Legend

If you asked most people to list the top comedy legends of all time, Hank Azaria’s name would be pretty unlikely to come up. However, if you started to list all of the beloved characters that Azaria has brought to life, it would be pretty much impossible to avoid giving him that status. After all, Azaria has voiced so many incredibly beloved Simpsons characters for more than 30 years that generations of fans have grown up loving his work. On top of that, any adult viewer who has no problem with mature content is missing out if they haven’t seen Azaria’s stunning work as the star of the live-action show Brockmire.

Despite everything that Hank Azaria has accomplished, that doesn’t mean that he is immune to failure. For example, during a 2021 appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Azaria revealed that he auditioned to star in Friends as Joey twice.

“I auditioned for Joey, and didn’t get it, and I was like, ‘No, no, I have to go back, I have to try again. So I bulled my way back in for a second time and they were very kind and watched my audition, and then threw me out. Spoiler alert, I didn’t get the role of Joey.”

After talking about his two failed Friends auditions, Hank Azaria revealed his connection to the show and why he wanted to star in it so badly. “Twice! I read that script. Matthew Perry is actually a very dear friend of mine, and so we all read the script. We didn’t know it was going to be the huge phenomenon it turned into, but we knew it was great, and we were all so desperate to be in it.”

On the bright side, Friends fans will already know that Hank Azaria eventually was hired to play one of the show’s most memorable supporting characters, Phoebe’s ex-boyfriends David. However, he has revealed that was a little bit of a bittersweet experience since Azaria wanted David and Phoebe to wind up together.

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