‘Friends’ Castmates Stayed Equally Famous With Identical Salaries and Equal Screen Time

Most fans are overjoyed to learn that the cast of Friends really are friends in real life, even more than a decade after the series finale. That could be due in part to their relentless effort to remain equal in all things on the show.

Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), David Schwimmer (Ross Geller), Courteney Cox (Monica Geller), Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing), Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani), and Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay) hadn’t all reached the same level of fame when they got cast in the show.

However, the six castmates constantly employed tactics to stay equally famous as Friends became more popular. They even kept identical salaries the whole way through.

No one knew ‘Friends’ would be such a smashing success

Cast of Friends
Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay | Gerald Weinman/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Series co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane certainly had high hopes for their ensemble comedy, Friends, but even they couldn’t have predicted how iconic the show would become. Friends is considered one of the funniest, most enduring sitcoms in the history of television. And it’s thanks in part to the actors who brought the characters to life.

Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe were all unique individuals. However, each contributed to the group in important ways. And when the media tried to make one of the couples on the show more important than the others, the cast of Friends fought back.

The ‘Friends’ castmates only appeared in photoshoots together

Friends cast
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani | David Bjerke/NBCU Photo Bank

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There are plenty of instances of the Friends castmates looking out for each other. One of the most notorious tactics they used was only agreeing to photoshoots, including magazine articles and cover stories, when all six of them were involved.

In early seasons of the show, the Ross and Rachel romance became popular with fans. But Crane especially didn’t allow those two stars to dominate the other four. Instead, he wanted to create a “true ensemble show.”

“No one had done a true ensemble,” the showrunner told Baltimore Sun. “Cheers had Sam and Diane and Seinfeld had Jerry’s name in the title.”

Each ‘Friends’ actor got equal screen time

One way writers kept the six castmates equally famous on the show was by ensuring fans got to see them all the same amount on the show. Baltimore Sun reported that for the most part, all six of them got equal attention over the course of ten seasons.

“I would venture that if you took a stopwatch to the show, you would find each character would have close to equal time in almost every episode,” Mitch Shapiro from the University of Miami told the publication. “The show also had great writers who knew how to take advantage of all the possible permutations. They made the sum greater than the parts.”

They negotiated hard to keep the same salaries

And that extreme equality extended to their salaries too. When network execs tried to increase Schwimmer and Aniston’s salaries after the Ross and Rachel storyline took off, the castmates fought back and entered salary negotiations together.

By the end of Friends, all six of the main stars were making $1 million per episode. No wonder they were so happy together — they really were there for each other in every way.