“Friends”, your union is wonderful: How did the legendary series begin ?

On May 27, a special part of the series “Friends. Return “- the actors sit in the same scenery and remember the past

This reunion has been awaited for many years. We decided to remember how the work on one of the most beloved and popular sitcoms in history went on – the TV series Friends . A lot about this is told in the book by Saul Austerlitz “Friends. 25 Years Together ”, published by the publishing house“ Bombora ”. The series “Friends” aired for almost 10 years – from September 1994 to May 2004.

NO swear words
In late 1993, young writers Martha Kauffman and David Crane came up with some new ideas for the series. One of them was called “Cafe” Insomnia “. Together with producer Kevin Bright, they drew up a seven-page plan, which they showed to executives at Warner Bros. The six characters were partly copied from Martha and David themselves, partly from their old acquaintances. It was important for the writers that three of these friends were women, and Kauffman insisted that there were no swear words in him.

Photo: still from the film

Warren Littlefield, president of NBC, thought the new show was exactly what he wanted. He didn’t like the title, however. The show was renamed “Bleecker Street” (this is the New York street on which Kauffman lived at one time). In an internal competition among Warner Bros. won the title “Friends like us”. And just before the broadcast, the name was shortened to the simple “Friends”.


In the role of Ross, Kauffman and Crane saw only David Schwimmer. They were ready to give him the role without audition. But the channel insisted on choosing another actor, Jonathan Silverman. In addition, Schwimmer was a theatrical actor: he was preparing for a production of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, where he was to play Pontius Pilate.

As a result, Silverman’s candidacy somehow fell off, and Schwimmer, albeit with difficulty, was persuaded to read the script. When he realized that the role was written counting on him, he decided to try it all the same. And it turned out that “Ross’s role was similar to the suit that Schwimmer had to wear. And he sat perfectly. “

Another character, Chandler, was seen by screenwriter David Crane as gay – mainly because he himself is gay. In the final version, Chandler became a romantic loser with a “knack for finding women who turn out to be perverts.” And they invited to this role the 24-year-old Canadian Matthew Perry, who previously appeared in the Crane and Kauffman series “Like a Movie”. There was one catch: Perry had already been cast in another sitcom, LAX 2194. Matthew was to play a loader sorting aliens’ luggage. The pilot episode of LAX 2194 was rejected, Perry freed himself and took on Friends.

Finally, Matt LeBlanc was cast for the third leading male role in the series, the loser actor Joey. He studied to be a carpenter, but wanted to become a motorcycle racer. “Once,” writes Austerlitz, “LeBlanc was walking down the street and stopped to look at a beautiful female ass. It so happened that the girl stopped to look at his ass, and both laughed. It turned out that she is an actress, goes to the audition and offered to go with her. LeBlanc agreed. So his acting career began spontaneously. He soon got roles in commercials. (…) On the eve of auditioning for the role of Joey, he drank, fell and hurt his nose. Kauffman asked what happened to his face, LeBlanc replied, “Oh, it’s a long story,” and began describing his night in the city. Kauffman laughed and LeBlanc felt that the audition would be a success for him. “

Courteney Cox, who by that time could already be called a star, was first seen by the authors in the role of Rachel. But the actress said that she likes Monica much more. Cox tried to persuade Rachel to play, but she resisted and insisted on her own. The producers eventually agreed with her.

Jennifer Aniston fit the role of Rachel in all respects. But she was already under contract with the writers of another series called Climbing, which was filmed for CBS. And I had to negotiate that Aniston was allowed to work in parallel at Friends.

Another heroine, Phoebe, Crane, and Kauffman, were portrayed as “a worry-free girl who played the guitar poorly and went out on dates. Phoebe doesn’t have her own apartment: everything she has fits into her backpack. ” Actress Lisa Kudrow, who by that time starred in the TV series Crazy About You, was perfect for the role. And since Crazy About You was also set in New York, the producers agreed and made the heroines of the two series, Phoebe and Ursula, twin sisters.


Friends were so wildly popular that in 1999 all six of the leading actors wanted a raise. “$ 125,000 per episode was good money, but last year’s Crazy About You stars Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser were raised to an incredible $ 1 million per episode. But why should the stars of the series, only included in the top 60 of the best shows according to the ratings of Nielsen, have to receive eight times more than the stars of the series, which took the second place in the same rating? “

The negotiations dragged on for so long and were so difficult that NBC was seriously considering ending Friends for its sixth season. In the end, the actors were given an ultimatum: either they each get paid $ 750,000 per episode (that is, $ 40 million for two future seasons), or the series ends. The actors agreed, and the series lasted not even two, but four seasons.

Series “Friends. Return “can be viewed on the video service” Amediateka “