The iconic NBC sitcom Friends delighted fans with a mix of humor and drama. The show was heartfelt, yet hilarious, with six single friends navigating their adult lives in New York City. Ross (David Schwimmer), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Chandler (Matthew Perry), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) were unforgettable characters.
That on-screen chemistry between the lead players isn’t made up. The Friends castmates were all close in real life, and remain friendly more than a decade later. Recently, Kudrow admitted she was close to quitting her career-defining role until co-star LeBlanc convinced her to stay.
Lisa Kudrow nabbed the part of Phoebe thanks to ‘Mad About You’
Friends casting agents knew Kudrow was their perfect Phoebe thanks to her work on another NBC comedy, Mad About You. Producers knew they needed a way to explain why the same actor was in both shows, which is why they came up with the idea of Phoebe having a snarky twin sister named Ursula.
Their ingenuity made it so Kudrow could participate in both shows without confusing fans. Kudrow allegedly didn’t love filming scenes with her “sister,” which included her real sister Helena as a stunt double. But fans adored both characters.
The actor felt burnt out after season 3 of ‘Friends’
By the third season of the series, Kudrow was feeling a bit of burnout from her work on the show. It was exhausting trying to be funny all the time and contribute to Phoebe’s very quirky personality.
“I had played dumb girls, sure, but it wasn’t really me,” she said during a YouTube video, according to Mirror. “I feel like sh*t; I tricked them. At the audition, I was the only one who could cope with the audition process and that’s how I got it, I think. So I had to work hard at being Phoebe, you know.”
Her costar Matt LeBlanc convinced Lisa Kudrow to stay
When Kudrow contemplated leaving the show, it was her fellow Friends castmate who talked her into staying. “I was struggling so much and LeBlanc was like, ‘What’s going on with you?’” she recalled.
“And I said, ‘I can’t, I don’t think I have it, I mean, I don’t know what I’m doing’. And he went, ‘You’re her, relax, you got it. You’ve been doing this f*cking character for three years. You’re working too hard. That’s your problem. You don’t need to work this hard. Relax.’ And he was right.”
It’s a good thing LeBlanc said that, because the remaining seven seasons of Friends wouldn’t be the same without Phoebe.
Kudrow also grappled with insecurity on ‘Friends’
It wasn’t just that Kudrow was tired from always trying to be funny. She also felt personal insecurity next to her female costars, Aniston and Cox.
“You see yourself on TV, and it’s that, ‘Oh my god, I’m just a mountain of a girl.’ And I’m already bigger than Courteney and Jennifer,” Kudrow said during a podcast interview. “[I was] taller, bigger. My bones feel bigger, I just felt like this mountain of a woman next to them.”
Thankfully, the actor never let those feelings get in the way of her friendship with the other leading ladies. And now she’s found a place of acceptance with her body image and her role on Friends. Ultimately, it opened the door for other projects that Kudrow is proud of, including multiple Emmy wins over the years.