Friends Exposed: 30 Shocking Moments of Personal Struggles and Turmoil Behind the Laughter

By Jack Ripley | November 20, 2023

Jennifer Aniston was almost replaced as Rachel.

Welcome to our exploration of the fascinating behind-the-scenes drama of the beloved 1990s TV show Friends. While we laughed along with Ross, Rachel, Joey, Monica, Chandler, and Phoebe, there was a lot of happening behind the scenes that viewers never saw. From personal struggles and intense pressure to addiction and potential cast changes, there was plenty of drama taking place among the cast and crew.

In this gallery, we'll dive deep into some of the most intriguing and eye-opening stories from behind the camera, including Matthew Perry's battle with addiction, David Schwimmer's struggle with depression during the height of the show's fame, and Jennifer Aniston's desire to leave the hit series. We'll examine the challenges they faced and the ways in which they impacted the show's production and overall legacy.

So, whether you're a die-hard Friends fan or simply interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of a hit TV show, we invite you to join us on this journey into the drama and intrigue of Friends. Keep reading to uncover the secrets that only those on set knew and gain a deeper understanding of the people behind the characters we all know and love.

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(NBC)

When we think of Friends, it's hard not to picture Jennifer Aniston as the iconic Rachel Green. But did you know that the beloved character almost had a different face? In a shocking revelation, Aniston shared that the show's producers were considering replacing her before the first episode even aired:

Friends came when I was off doing Muddling Through. So there was a period where I had to stand out of the photographs for the group shots, and I had phone calls from girlfriends saying, ‘I’m auditioning for your part in Friends.’

Could you even imagine anyone else playing the fashion-savvy waitress turned Ralph Lauren executive? It's no secret that Aniston's portrayal of Rachel stole our hearts and made us all want "The Rachel" haircut. It's hard to fathom how the show would have turned out without her. Thankfully, the producers saw Aniston's undeniable talent and kept her on board. Friends wouldn't have been the same without her. Aniston continued:

They just took the chance that Muddling Through would fail after the two episodes they picked it up for. And so I just started doing this back-and-forth from Sony to Warner Bros. for two weeks.

Lisa Kudrow Thought She Would Be Fired 

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(NBC)

When we think of Friends, we can't help but picture Lisa Kudrow as the quirky and lovable Phoebe Buffay. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing the role, but it turns out Kudrow herself had doubts about her ability to pull it off.

In a recent interview with The Mirror, Kudrow revealed that she was originally cast as Roz Doyle on Frasier, but was fired by director James Burrows during pilot rehearsals. She was replaced by Peri Gilpin. So when Kudrow was cast as Phoebe on Friends and realized Burrows was directing again, she understandably became nervous.

Kudrow even admitted to fearing she would be fired from Friends before she got past her first week on set. She told Vanity Fair:

I was terrified that first week. It was Jimmy ... again. He would say, 'Why are they friends with her?' Meaning me. 'We have to figure that out. She doesn't fit,' and I was like, 'Oh my God, here we go again.' I thought, this is the run-through where Marta and David are going to say, 'This character doesn't work. We have to reconceive it. She's just not part of the group.'