HBO Max’s special Friends: The Reunion brings the original six cast members of the beloved sitcom together 17 years after the finale aired, and offers some fun and intriguing behind-the-scenes reveals along the way.
Friends: The Reunion has plenty of nostalgic moments, from table reads of classic moments to Bieber donning Ross’s “Spud-nik” Halloween costume, as well as insider details about the making of the show. From secret crushes to badly-behaved monkeys, here are the biggest reveals from Friends: The Reunion.
Joey’s Fake Twin Almost Played Joey
Though it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Joey Tribbiani, Kevin Bright revealed that the audition process actually “went down to the wire” between LeBlanc and another actor, Louis Mandylor. In an amusingly meta nod to this casting face-off, Mandylore actually did go on to appear in Friends – as Joey’s “identical” twin. In the season 6 episode “The One with Unagi,” Joey finds himself short on cash and decides to take part in a well-paying medical study of identical twins. To solve the minor problem of not actually having an identical twin, Joey recruits another actor called Carl (played by Mandylor) who he thinks looks exactly like him. The doctors running the trial aren’t quite as convinced.
David Schwimmer Hated Marcel The Monkey
After his first wife Carol divorced him, Ross dealt with the loneliness in Friends season 1 by adopting a white-headed capuchin monkey called Marcel. In the show, Ross is very sad when he has to give Marcel to a zoo due to laws against keeping exotic animals as pets. In real life, David Schwimmer hated the monkey who played Marcel (her name was Katie). When asked during Friends: The Reunion if there was any part of the show he didn’t enjoy, Schwimmer immediately replied “the monkey.” Katie would eat live bugs and grubs while sitting on Schwimmer’s shoulder and then touch his hair with her dirty hands, and whenever she missed her mark it would mess up the whole scene and they’d have to restart. It’s little wonder that Marcel didn’t stay in the series for long.
Monica And Chandler Were Only Supposed To Have A One-Night Stand
Monica and Chandler were just friends until they went on a trip to London for Ross’s wedding at the end of season 4, and ended up having a spontaneous night of passion in their hotel. Though the two tried to go back to normal after returning to New York, they found that they couldn’t bury their newfound feelings for each other. The unlikely couple eventually got married, adopted twin babies, and moved out to Westchester together – but originally they were only supposed to have a one-night stand. David Crane revealed that in the original plan for this arc “they would sleep together in London; it was a brief thing and we’d have some fun with it afterwards.” However, as Marta Kauffman explained, the reaction from the live audience to the reveal of Chandler and Monica being in bed together was so enthusiastic that they decided to change the plan for Friends season 5 and have the two characters get together properly.
How Janice’s Laugh Was Born
Chandler’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Janice was a fan-favorite guest star on Friends, appearing in almost every season of the show. Janice was known by her nasally voice, her loud exclamations of “Oh! My! God!” and her iconic cackling laugh. In her surprise appearance in Friends: The Reunion, Janice explained that the laugh came out of necessity when she realized she wasn’t going to be able to keep a straight face while acting opposite Matthew Perry:
“Matthew Perry is so funny, and the minute I set eyes on him and he opened his mouth I thought, ‘Oh God, I’m gonna lose it, I’m gonna crack up. This character needs a laugh because I’m not gonna be able to get through a single scene with this guy… And I just looked and he and I went [Janice’s laugh] and that was it. It was just born in the moment.”
Matt LeBlanc Dislocated His Shoulder On Set
Friends season 3, episode 2, “The One Where No One’s Ready” is a classic bottle episode, with a single set and a small cast. But while bottle episodes are usually simpler to shoot, “The One Where No One’s Ready” turned into a big production headache after Chandler and Joey’s B-plot about fighting over a chair ended in injury. In a scene where both Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc had to dive for the chair at the same time, LeBlanc landed badly and dislocated his shoulder. He had to wear a sling on his arm in the following episodes, which was explained away by Joey having a mishap while jumping on the bed.
David Schwimmer And Jennifer Aniston Had A Mutual Crush
The chemistry between Ross and Rachel didn’t just stay on-screen. During Friends: The Reunion, David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston revealed that they had a mutual crush on each other during filming, and would cuddle on the couch in Monica’s apartment during their breaks on set. Nothing ever came of this frisson of romance, because the two actors were never single at the same time. To punctuate the reveal, the special showed some footage of flirty behavior between Schwimmer and Aniston behind the scenes.
Ross And Rachel Almost Didn’t Get Back Together
The Friends series finale has a lot going on, between Chandler and Monica getting ready to move and their twins being born, and Rachel getting ready to move with Paris for a new job. After Ross decides to tell her he loves her in the hope that she’ll stay, the finale features a classic airport chase (two actually, since Ross gets the wrong airport on his first attempt). Rachel ends up getting on the plane anyway, but leaves a voicemail for Ross during which she realizes that she wants to be with him and asks to get off the plane. The voicemail cuts off and as Ross is frantically trying to figure out whether Rachel got off the plane, she shows up and confirms that she did and she now intends to stay in New York.
This wasn’t always the plan, however. During Friends: The Reunion, David Crane said that the writers were uncertain about whether or not Ross and Rachel should end up together, revealing that “we discussed sort of ambivalent endings.” Ultimately, though, the writers and producers decided they couldn’t end the show any other way: “We went ‘No, this is Friends, people have been waiting 10 years to see this couple get together, we’ve got to give them what they want.‘”