‘Friends’: Lisa Kudrow Explains Why Ursula Is So Mean

Friends star Lisa Kudrow is known for playing the character Phoebe Buffay. She also played Phoebe’s twin sister, Ursula. One question fans have is why Ursula is so mean. Here’s the explanation Kudrow gave about Ursula’s attitude.

Why Phoebe has a twin sister on ‘Friends’

Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay on Friends | David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay on Friends | David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Why did Phoebe have a twin on Friends? Kudrow told Television Academy Foundation she appeared on Mad About You and Friends at the same time, so it was necessary to explain why she was on both shows. It would be confusing for viewers to see the actress in both shows, especially since they aired back-to-back. Here’s how Kudrow explains the decision to make Phoebe a twin:

When Friends got its time slot on Thursday night at 8:30 after Mad About You, then I think they needed to start discussing. I think everybody realized we need some explanation for the audience. [They needed to explain] why you’re seeing the same girl with the same voice at 8:00 and at 8:30 on two different shows.

When asked if she thinks the twin storyline is believable, Kudrow says she does. She says it seems believable because Ursula and Phoebe are two different versions of each other.

How Ursula became mean

Kudrow says she thinks the Friends writers decided Ursula would be an evil twin. She was told Ursula didn’t have to be mean, but she noticed the character was written in a way that presented her as mean. Here’s what she told the Television Academy Foundation:

I saw Ursula as this nice person, really nice. She just didn’t pay attention to anything. I think it was the Friends writers who decided that Ursula was this evil person. Maybe they didn’t like that they had to include her, I don’t know. But I remember the first time, and they were like, ‘Alright, here she is.’

I don’t remember what the story was, but I remember thinking, ‘Oh, that’s kind of mean. She’s mean? I don’t think she’s mean.’ And they were like, ‘No, that’s not mean. She doesn’t have to be mean.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ But [Ursula] is still behaving that way. And I don’t know how Danny Jacobson or whoever was running Mad About You at the time felt about this mean person on that show. Initially, it was just to let me go on Mad About You and do that. And then they had Ursula on.

Lisa Kudrow’s opinion of Phoebe

Lisa Kudrow with the Friends cast | Ron Davis/Getty Images
Lisa Kudrow with the Friends cast | Ron Davis/Getty Images

Kudrow says she liked Phoebe and she didn’t see her as unintelligent. Rather, Kudrow says Phoebe just saw the world in a different way. She had a unique approach to life.  

Phoebe was a nice person, she was fiery. There was more to her because she had more than two lines. But she was like a decent person, just a little fiery. I didn’t see Phoebe as someone who doesn’t get things or doesn’t pay attention. She was someone who just saw the world differently. Her take was completely different, but she was really committed to it.

Read more: ‘Friends’: Lisa Kudrow Says This Is How She Created Phoebe