On the historic day of May 27, 2021 premiered with great fanfare. The gang members weighed in on what it meant to be on the show that was TV's number 1 comedy for 6 straight years. They talked among themselves and to the host, James Corden not only about the pressures they faced, but also the contentment their jobs brought.
What mostly caught fans' attention was how creators, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, and the executive producer/director Kevin Bright perfectly cast the 6 characters. The show creators provided some wonderful insights on how they got the 6 terrific 20-somethings to do a comedy, and more importantly, what circumstances each of them was in before landing their respective parts. The 6 friends were a ragtag bunch of misfits (and a terrific one at that) and like everyone else, they too had to begin at some point.
Right off the bat, David Crane explained casting was really hard much more so than the showmakers had anticipated. While they saw "approximately a gazillion people," the fact is, . David Crane further said they (the makers) had seen the actor for another role for a pilot they had done before and had loved his hangdog appearance.
Turns out, by the time they tried to cast David Schwimmer for , he'd quit television, moved back to Chicago to do just theatre. "I believed we sent gift baskets," added Marta Kauffman. Although David Crane doesn't remember sending the gift baskets, he does remember begging and beseeching David Schwimmer to sign on for .
After David Schwimmer, the creators saw a bunch of women who read Phoebe, and none of them made the cut. Meanwhile, David Crane's husband, Jeffrey Klarik who was writing and producing on another recommended that they get actress Lisa Kudrow to audition for Phoebe Buffay.
And that's pretty much how Lisa, who originally played Ursula, the waitress, on was cast to portray her identical twin sister, Though Phoebe had a lot of beginnings in Ursula, she was also much more positive than her twin sister.
Speaking further about Lisa Kudrow, Marta Kauffman said she came in and nailed the audition. The actress had impressed the creators by not only doing everything they'd hoped for but also by elevating the material.
That Lisa Kudrow became the second one to be perfectly cast, right after David Schwimmer, was kind of an achievement for the creators. It was just the beginning of the casting, and they thought they were on a roll. Little did they know what the challenges awaited them.
After bringing David and Lisa on board, there was a slump in the casting progress. For 2.5 months, the creators couldn't come up with anyone suited to play the rest of the characters.
Besides Phoebe Buffay and Ross Geller, they had yet to cast Ross's sister, Monica, his best friend from college, Chandler Bing, his other friend, Joey Tribbiani, and of course, . Nonetheless, the creators didn't lose hope and Matt Leblanc was next in line to be cast.
By the time Matt LeBlanc arrived, David Crane, Marta Kauffman, and Kevin Bright had already seen a lot of actors who were good-looking enough to play Joey but lacked the comic timing.
"So Matt went right down to the wire, auditioned at the network, at NBC with another actor, and he killed it, and he got the part as Joey," revealed Kevin Bright. Before Matt LeBlanc was cast as Joey, he was reportedly down to his last $11. But better days were coming.
The funny part about the whole Joey casting process was that one of the actors who auditioned for the role also ended up on the show as "fake Joey" in season 6. In the episode, "The One with Unagi" Monica and Chandler were startled to see this Joey-lookalike storm into their apartment and grab a soda without their permission.
The man was named Carl and he was hired by Joey to be his twin for a medical research project. Basically, Joey was broke and desperate, and the research project paid $2000, so he caught hold of the next man who sat beside him but looked nothing like him.
After Joey was on board, the creators were having a tough time finding Monica. While they had Courteney Cox in mind for the role of Rachel, she thought of herself as better suited to play Monica. According to Marta Kauffman, Courteney brought incredible joy to the character.
Because she'd been in the Bruce Springsteen video and with Michael J. Fox on , the creators feared would become a "Courteney Cox show." As far as Courteney Cox was concerned, she made her character richer than the trio had originally expected, and at the same time alleviating fears she'd be the center of attention.
Again, the trio thought casting Chandler Bing would be the easiest because the character was inherently funny. The assumption based itself on the fact that had "actual real jokes" written for him, therefore casting this character would be a piece of cake.
"So I thought, here we go, this is gonna be great. And we saw actor after actor, and it wasn't funny," revealed co-creator David Crane. The creators had worked with Matthew Perry on the TV series , and because he was such a terrific actor, they just knew they had to cast him as Chandler Bing.
Turns out, casting Matthew Perry to play Chandler wasn't as easy as the creators thought it would be. They had to face some obstacles because .
Matthew was already signed onto another show named - which was about luggage handlers in the future at Los Angeles International Airport. It so happened that someone from Warner Bros. who was at the taping of thought the show was never going to make it. He was put in and the rest is history.
was the last and the hardest part to cast and according to David Crane, "she could be a really unlikable character." The trio knew Rachel had to go to someone who made it into a likable character. They saw a lot of women and none of it made sense until Jennifer Aniston auditioned.
Like Matthew Perry, Jennifer was already committed to a show called In her case, it was more than just a pilot. She'd already shot 6 episodes of this show, but that didn't deter the creators from shooting the first 3 episodes of while she was still signed to But thankfully, it was only picked up for another 3 episodes before being canceled, paving way for .