Why Was Lady Gaga in the ‘Friends’ Reunion Performing ‘Smelly Cat’?

For years, Friends fans have been waiting to see the entire cast reunite. Well, it finally happened on HBO Max, and apparently, the one where the cast gets back together wasn’t exactly what everyone expected it to be. Still, the response has been generally positive, with a ton of guest stars popping in to join the fun. The most unexpected, however, is Lady Gaga. So how did the singer wind up on Friends: The Reunion?

Lady Gaga turns and smiles in a black dress at the Oscars
Lady Gaga turns and smiles in a black dress at the Oscars | Kelsey McNeal via Getty Images

‘Friends’ fans finally got the chance to see the cast reunite

Perhaps some Friends fans hoped to see the six main players return as their characters for a special episode. Alas, the HBO Max reunion took a very different approach, gathering the main actors — and many recurring guest stars — to look back on their time making the show. Plenty of behind-the-scenes stories are featured in the special, which is concerned more with the Friends legacy than catching up with the characters now.

In fact, the most negative aspect of the production was its inclusion of James Corden as the host. Largely, fans seemed to enjoy this trip down memory lane. After all, from 1994 to 2004, the series was must-see TV. And even famous names who had nothing to do with Friends — such as David Beckham, Mindy Kaling, and Kit Harington — shared their praise for the show. But none made the same impact as Lady Gaga’s moment.

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Lady Gaga was among the special’s surprise guest stars

On Friends: The Reunion, Lady Gaga — who was only 8 years old when Friends premiered — joins Lisa Kudrow on a recreation of the Central Perk set. And the pair perform a duet version of “Smelly Cat,” the tune Kudrow’s Phoebe performed on the show throughout its run. Speaking with The Sun, director Ben Winston shed a bit of light on how that surprise appearance united Lady Gaga with Friends alum Kudrow.

“I said to Lisa, ‘Would you be prepared to sing it?’ and she was like, ‘Yeah, that would be fun.’ We went through a few names, and we both agreed that Gaga — if we could get her — would be the ultimate one because she associates with and feels close to Phoebe in so many ways, as Gaga says on the show. That was a really beautiful moment, and Lady Gaga jumped at the chance to do it.”

Indeed, the connection between Phoebe’s character and Lady Gaga elevated the performance. Moreover, the singer’s quick reference to her Oscar-nominated performance in A Star Is Born helped make the “Smelly Cat” duet an easy highlight of the Friends reunion. Remarkably, Kudrow and Gaga didn’t even have much time to rehearse the number. But perhaps that only adds to the spontaneity of it all.

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What will be Lady Gaga’s next big acting role?

Lady Gaga fans who enjoyed seeing her Friends duet should be pleased to hear the singer has a new album with Tony Bennett on the way. But even more intriguing is her big-screen follow-up to A Star Is Born. Lady Gaga will star opposite Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Salma Hayek in House of Gucci.

The movie — directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator) — sees Lady Gaga play Patrizia Reggiani. The real-life story centers on the murder of Maurizio Gucci (Driver), for which Reggiani was convicted. House of Gucci is set for release on Nov. 24, 2021 and could prove to be a major Oscar player this awards season.