Friends director James Burrows discusses the cast’s trip to Vegas before the hit series first premiered. The New York City-based sitcom has established itself as a staple within pop culture since it first aired in 1994. Across its ten seasons, Friends was nominated for more than 60 Prime-Time Emmy awards, as it followed a group of six young people through their various careers, relationships, and of course, friendships.
Given the enormous success of Friends, the show’s six main stars were immediately propelled into the spotlight. The show saw Jennifer Aniston star as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, and Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing. Each of these stars is reported to have earned $1 million per episode during the final Friends season 10. Before Friends first hit screens, the six stars embarked on a pre-premiere trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. The core cast has previously opened up about some of their first moments hanging out as a group before the show’s debut.
While discussing his time on Friends in his upcoming memoir, Directed by James Burrows (via ET), the director shared that he booked the center table at Spago restaurant during the group’s trip to Vegas. Burrows discussed how he gave each form $200 to gamble within the casino but had to give LeBlanc a further $200 as he immediately lost his first game. Burrows continued by discussing how close the six actors became throughout the show, sharing that they “genuinely adored one another.” He encouraged the young cast to enjoy their anonymity while it lasted. Check out the full quote below.
“I made a reservation for just the seven of us at Spago; I asked for the center table in the restaurant, where everyone could see us. I knew the show had a chance to take off and told the kids, ‘This is your last shot at anonymity. Once the show airs, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded.’ I laid out $1,400; if the math doesn’t seem right, it’s because LeBlanc had no idea how to play craps, and he lost his two hundred dollars in seconds, so I gave him another two hundred. They’ve never had a shot at anonymity since, and they each wrote me reimbursement checks for the money I gave them. The six became real friends and would play poker in my dressing room; it was about bonding. They genuinely adored one another. A director and cast live for that kind of connection.”
After Friends show came to its emotional end back in 2004, each cast continued as prominent names in Hollywood, taking on various projects in the years since. 2021 saw the six stars reunite on screen for the first time since the show’s finale in a Friends reunion special, as they sat down with James Corden to discuss their experience in starring in one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. The lead actors revealed that they had continued to stay in touch over the past decade and a half, having established a powerful bond with one another over the show’s run.
Burrows’ predictions for Friends’ success were undoubtedly on the money. The show’s stars are likely incredibly grateful that their director recognized their Vegas trips as one of their final moments to relish in going unnoticed in a public space. Each star has previously recounted their time on Friends and shared several fond and emotional memories. Although, as Burrows explains, none of the cast expected the level of mania that surrounded the show at the time (and still covers it now), Friends’ legacy and popularity continues well into the current day.