Of course, Matt loved his experience making the show that helped him grow his massive $80 million net worth. He also adores his co-star, Jennifer Aniston, he just didn’t think his character should’ve had a relationship with hers.
Matt Felt The Whole Concept Of The Joey/Rachel Relationship Was ‘Wildy’ Inappropriate
Yes, you read that right… Matt was so put off by the idea of the Joey/Rachel relationship that he called the whole thing “wildly inappropriate”.
During a fantastic oral history of Friends by Vanity Fair, the cast and crew reflected on a number of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories from the show. This includes the creation of the pilot, casting the series, and, yes, the Joey/Rachel relationship. It was a story choice that, unlikely anything before it, actually scared the cast and crew of the beloved successful. But the time that story rolled around, Friends was outlandishly successful, so any major change in the show’s design had to be justified by the story and the characters… And this specific change didn’t quite land with everyone…
“In Season Eight or Nine we had Joey fall for Rachel, and that scared everybody,” series co-creator David Crane told Vanity Fair. “She was pregnant. The actors freaked out. Matt [LeBlanc] kept saying, ‘It’s wrong. It’s like I want to be with my sister.’ We said, ‘Yes, it’s absolutely wrong. That’s why we have to do it.’ You can’t just keep spinning the same plates. You have to go places where you’re not expected to go.”
But this explanation didn’t quite sit well with the man who brought Joey Tribianni to life.
“It felt wildly inappropriate,” Matt LeBlanc said to Vanity Fair. “That’s how close we all were to the character. I was like, ‘That’s Rachel. She was supposed to be with Ross. Wait a minute.’ Everybody got super-defensive about the whole thing.”
Matt continued by saying, “We went to David and Marta [Kauffman, the other creator of Friends] as a group and said, ‘We’re really concerned about this. It doesn’t feel right. We have a problem with it.’ David said, ‘It’s like playing with fire, and then you put it down, and you go, ‘Remember when we played with that fire?’ We’re aware of everything. The feelings that you’re feeling, we’re feeling them, too, and we like it.'”
On top of this, it appears as though Jennifer Aniston had similar feelings about the whole storyline. When asked by Elle if she was hoping that Rachel and Joey would end up together, she said this:
“No! No, no They tried! I think there was a moment when Joey and Rachel got together that maybe it could happen, but it didn’t. It was Ross and Rachel all the way. I really believe that if there’s an afterworld of Friends, they’re still thriving. Don’t you? I just don’t think Joey and Rachel could have made it. I think it was more physical than emotional with them. They were friends with benefits, and they left it at that.”
The Creators Wanted The Relationship To Fail
Just like David and Marta told the cast of Friends back in the day, they set out for the relationship to fail.
“Once it actually started, it was heartbreaking because it couldn’t go anywhere. It was always going to be Ross and Rachel,” David Crane said.”The Ross-and-Rachel thing was fascinating. My rabbi, when I dropped my daughter off for Hebrew school, would stop me and say, ‘When are you going to get them together?'” Marta Kauffman admitted.
But the ‘will they/won’t they?’ of the Ross and Rachel relationship was integral to the show’s success.
“From a technical standpoint, it was challenging to keep them apart without pissing off the audience,” David said. “In the pilot, Ross says to Rachel, ‘Can I ask you out sometime?’ We go through an entire season, 24 episodes, and he never asks her out. Every time it’s about to happen—we brought in the Italian guy, we threw a cat on his back. We kept asking ourselves, ‘Will they let us go one more?'”
After that, Ross and Rachel went through several difficult moments that kept them from finding happiness with one another. This includes the agonizing fling with Joey.” The episode [in Season Three] where Ross and Rachel are on a break and Ross sleeps with the Xerox girl—and the whole episode is in the living room with the other four locked in the bedroom—it’s unfortunate. We kept going to the bedroom for funny,” David Crane told Vanity Fair. “That’s probably one of my favorite episodes. For the two of us, the emotional stuff was what sustained us.”