Nobody told them that their lives were going to be this way. Their jobs were jokes, they were broke, and their love lives were D.O.A. (At least for the first few seasons or so.)
But nowadays, exactly 10 years after the finale of "Friends" aired on May 6, 2004, it's hard to believe that Joey, Rachel, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe and Monica were ever anything other than huge stars. "Friends" was just about the most popular show on television, mostly because viewers could imagine themselves actually befriending each of the quirky castmembers.
Just like your real friends, however, "Friends" was hiding plenty of secrets in its closet — some of them shocking, others a bit silly, and plenty that were downright impressive.
If you're curious for some fascinating "Friends" factoids, keep reading for a bunch of fun trivia that's sure to brighten your day, your week, your month, or even your year.
#1. Frequent "Cheers" and "Taxi" director James Burrows, who also directed the pilot episode of "Friends," was more confident of the show's success than some of the higher-ups at NBC. After it was finished, he asked Warner Bros. to lend him a private plane so he could take the cast to Las Vegas for dinner. Once there, Burrows sat the six of them at a table in Caesar's Palace, gave them each a few hundred bucks to gamble with, and told them to have fun with their last moments of anonymity. "I want you to be aware that this is the last time that you all can be out and not be swarmed, because that’s what’s going to happen," Lisa Kudrow remembers him saying.
#2. The "Friends" theme song was written by several people, including show creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane and the two members of the Rembrandts, who also performed it. "I'll Be There For You" initially lasted for only about 45 seconds, but the Rembrandts were forced to record a full-length version after an eager DJ took a few liberties with the song when the show became a hit. "A radio guy in Nashville — I don't know if I love him or hate him — looped the 45 seconds into a three-minute song, and people were all over it," said Rembrandts guitarist/vocalist Phil Solem. "Our record label said we had to finish the song and record it. There was no way to get out of it." Soon after in 1995, the song enjoyed an eight-week run at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 Airplay chart.
#3. A year before "Friends" debuted, Matthew Perry and a friend approached NBC with an idea for a sitcom about close friends called "Maxwell's House," not knowing that NBC already had a similar show in the works.
#4. Matt LeBlanc started going gray in his mid-twenties, but dyed his hair black for nearly the entire duration of "Friends." The show's hair department was in charge of this at first, but LeBlanc soon opted to color his own hair with Just For Men when he got tired of sitting in the makeup chair for over an hour and a half at a time.
#5. Most "Friends" fanatics are well aware of Phoebe Buffay's twin sister Ursula, but they might not be aware that Ursula Buffay was a recurring character on NBC's "Mad About You" more than a year before "Friends" debuted. According to Lisa Kudrow, she was already playing Ursula when she won the role of Phoebe, and since "Friends" was poised to take the time slot directly following "Mad About You," the writers added a storyline about Phoebe being a twin so as not to confuse NBC's viewers.
#6. Ross' second wife Emily was originally supposed to have a larger role, but was written out of the show when British actress Helen Baxendale became pregnant. "'Friends' was great fun, but I was just there so they could make some funny jokes about England," she told Britain's Daily Mail in 2012. "And I was also expecting, and you have to be thin out in America."
#7. When creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane pitched their series to NBC (which they were calling "Insomnia Cafe" at the time), they hadn't planned for the romantic arc between Ross and Rachel. Instead, they originally envisioned that the show's big love story would take place between the characters of Joey and Monica, because "they just seemed like the most sexual of the characters." It was only during the writing process that the Ross/Rachel dynamic eventually came out.
#8. James Michael Tyler, who played Central Perk's hapless barista Gunther in 148 episodes, was originally asked by an assistant director to be an extra because he knew his way around an espresso machine. His character was never intended to speak, have a name, or act as anything more than that.
#9. The producers originally offered Courteney Cox the role of Rachel, but the actress insisted on playing Monica instead. "When we originally wrote the role [of Monica], we had Janeane Garofalo’s voice in our head," David Crane told Vanity Fair in 2012, meaning that he was imagining someone much more sarcastic and snarky. Marta Kauffman and David Crane changed their minds when they realized that Courteney's take would "be a lovelier place to go" week after week.
#10. In addition to their astronomical salaries (each principal castmember earned $1 million per episode during the show's last season), the six main castmembers "Friends" were the first sitcom actors to negotiate a deal in which they recieved a portion of the profits from syndication. Prior to this, these types of agreements were only allotted for actors who also held ownership of creative control over their shows.