These 21 secrets of how Friends was made will change the way you see the show
Um Ross and Rachel were never meant to be on a break
The recent Friends reunion episode spilled a lot of secrets from the show. Matt Le Blanc broke his arm and had to reshoot scenes, Jennifer Anniston and David Schwimmer had crushes on each other and Courteney Cox wrote her lines on Monica’s table. However there are still plenty of Friends production secrets the cast didn’t give away.
Over the years the Friends creators, directors and set designers have revealed a number of surprising facts about how the show was made. They’ve said shared how storylines were developed, the reasons for particular furniture choices and casting decisions.
Being filmed in front of a live studio audience for 10 years, Friends also has a number of production secrets linked the audience. Most importantly the surprise that the audience were given free pizza whilst watching the taping. Honestly what a dream day that would have been.
These are all the juicy behind the scenes production secrets from Friends:
The troll doll was developed before the Geller Cup storyline
The Geller Cup storyline is an iconic episode and easily one of the best Thanksgiving episodes. However the storyline was actually created around the cup not the other way around.
A member of the prop team showed the writers the troll doll stuck on the wooden block and they took the idea and created the Geller Cup around it.
The fat suit had to be ventilated
Monica’s fat suit and her “fat” appearance was a key plot line in numerous episodes of the show, but it turns out it was pretty hot to be in for Courteney Cox.
The suit was made of foam and the wardrobe team would pipe air in the back to keep her cool.
Costume designer Debra McGuire said: “In those early years, we did not have that fat suit together. We had a big learning curve on how to keep her cool. That was difficult.
“Courteney was quite a champ to be able to wear that, act in that and be funny. That was really challenging I think. It was a foam body that she climbed into. We had to pipe in air through the back to keep her ventilated. Eventually, we had to do something because it was quite uncomfortable.”
Lisa Kudrow’s sister played Ursula
Ok so technically she didn’t play Ursula the whole time, but Lisa Kudrow’s real life sister, Marla, would play Ursula’s double.
So in scenes in which Ursula or Phoebe’s back is to the camera and she’s talking to the twin, it’s actually Marla.
The art work changed every few weeks in Central Perk
Central Perk is in nearly every episode of Friends, so we really should have spotted this, but the art work actually changed every few episodes.
The set designer Greg Grande said they would frequently change the back wall art work to a new artist from around the world.
He said: “Every three or four episodes I changed the artwork on the back wall of Central Perk
“I was diligent about meeting artists all around the world that were interested in putting their art on the show. We made a few people’s careers out of it, that was interesting to watch!”
Monica’s door frame was a mistake
Ok I am in shock that the iconic yellow door frame around Monica’s purple door was actually a mistake.
It was originally a frame which had its glass broken, so Greg suggested putting it around the peep hole and it just worked.
He said: “The glass on the back of the frame had broken and while I was dressing up the set for the pilot I asked one of my guys to put it on the back of the door and open the peephole.
“I kinda liked the way it looked and that’s how it ended up. It’s like a wonderful mistake that’s kinda famous I guess. That’s exactly what happened.”
Many storylines revolved around wardrobe problems
Some of the most iconic Friends storylines are about clothes problems – Ross’ leather pants, Monica’s boots and Rachel’s bridesmaid dress.
And this was completely intentional, especially in the early seasons, as the writers wanted the costume department to feel involved.
Gladys wasn’t actually made for the show
Who could forget the terrifying work of art that was Gladys? Phoebe’s creepy artwork already existed way before the show.
The set director Greg found the piece of art and thought it would be great for Phoebe’s apartment.
He said: “That was a piece that I found and thought it would be really funny being on a wall art in her apartment. That ended up becoming a story point in the show.”
Ross and Rachel weren’t meant to go on a break
Um, sorry, what? We weren’t meant to go through all that torment and pain? I want my money back.
One of the show’s directors, Kevin S Bright, revealed when they initially planned for Ross and Rachel to get together there was not meant to be a break.
However after they got together they realised there was no sexual tension anymore and so they needed to add it back in.
He said: “I would say initially when was planned it wasn’t planned that way, that came a little bit later. It allowed us to have fun with the show and give people something to root for.
“We were well aware the audience wanted to keep them together but everything that was keeping them apart – we realised when we got them together when the first kiss happened we go, ‘Wow, the air has kind of gone out of the balloon’. There wasn’t that sexual tension anymore.”
The cast were taken on a big trip to Vegas
The episodes where all the Friends go to Vegas are classic and it turns out it was inspired by an actual trip the cast took to Las Vegas all the way back before the first season aired.
The director James Burrows took the whole cast to Las Vegas before the pilot aired as he had a feeling they would become mega famous, so he told them to enjoy their time as it would be the last time they would be anonymous.
The set director played a role in the last episode
Rather sweetly the set director even had a cameo in the last episode of the show, where he plays a removal man.
Greg is the one Monica hands the money for the dog to fall off the truck and sentimentally he moves the last piece of furniture out of the apartment and of the show. I’m not crying, you are.
The episodes are titled the ‘one with’ because of laziness
Does anyone else think naming the episodes “the one with” was pretty genius? In reality it was more laziness than genius that led the writers to their title ideas.
The shows creators didn’t like coming up with titles as they thought it wasted time. One of the creators, David Crane, said: “We’d been on enough shows where people spent so much time trying to come up with clever, punning titles, so I thought of the way you always talk about an episode.
“You always go, ‘Oh, well, it’s the one with the thing’. So it was like, ‘Let’s just do that.’ And then it stuck. It was easier and people remembered.”
Gunther got his role because he was the only one who could work the coffee machine
Gunther is such an iconic role it’s a surprise they didn’t go through rounds of casting to get him.
However the reason he landed his role is because he was the only extra who knew how to work the coffee machine. It really does pay to be a coffee lover.
Members of the live audience usually got free gifts
Being a member of the Friends audience would have been a gift enough, but the audience also got plenty of freebies, including free pizza during filming.
Each 22 minute episode took six hours to film
This is so long, how on earth did they film for 10 seasons? According to Comedy Central the show filmed for six hours just to get a 22 minute episode, which is twice the length of most sitcom tapings.
The poster behind the TV wasn’t an aesthetic choice
There was a moment in time when everyone was obsessed with the poster behind Monica’s TV. Although it looks great in the apartment, it wasn’t chosen purely for its design aesthetic.
In fact the poster was used to hide the hole in the wall which the camera crew would often film through.
The producers would ask the audience questions about lines
Friends appears to be quite a collaborative show and there were even times when the producers would ask the audience what they thought of specific lines.
During the filming of the pilot Monica says a line about not remembering the name of a guy she slept with (and who hasn’t?). However the producers were worried this would make her unlikeable.
So they handed out a survey during filming to ask the audience what they thought of the line. Luckily they didn’t want it taken out and found it funny.
The opening credits were filmed in the Warner Bros lot at 4am
Sadly you can’t actually go to the iconic fountain that features in the opening credits of the show.
It was filmed in a Warner Bros film lot at 4am, but luckily the water in the fountain was heated.
In the ‘One With The Football’ the creator’s kids are in the background
Remember the scenes where the group play football for the Geller Cup? Well Friends creator Marta Kauffman’s kids were the actual kids on the swings in the background of the shots.
They had to stop filming during the Monica and Chandler bed scene because the audience were screaming so much
This will easily go down as one of the best scenes in the show – the moment Chandler and Monica finally get together and she pops out of his bed in London.
And it was clearly a shock to the live audience who screamed so much they had to pause filming.
A few moments weren’t filmed in front of a live audience
Whilst the majority of the show was filmed in front of a live audience there were a few exceptions to this.
The scene in which Rachel’s boobies are seen through the towel was shot with just the cameraman and director. The clip was then shown to the audience later.
Cliffhangers of the show such as Ross and Emily’s incredibly awkward wedding were also not filmed in front of an audience.
Equally because the audience loved Tom Selleck, aka Richard Burke, so much they would scream when he came on set. And so the crew made the decision to film some of his scenes without the audience present.
The show wasn’t meant to be called Friends
In the recent reunion episode the cast touched on the name for the show and were asked why it was called that. They said they didn’t know and it turns out there were a lot of other potential names for the show.
The producers thought of calling it “Insomnia Cafe”, “Friends Like Us” and “Across The Hall”. Thank god they settled on Friends.
Friends is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.