Matt LeBlanc’s Injury & More Behind-the-Scenes Secrets Revealed During ‘Friends: The Reunion’
It was the one where all six cast members were together in a room for only the second time since the Friends finale and reminded everyone how much fun they are together. Seventeen years later, David Schwimmer (Ross), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Courteney Cox (Monica), and Matthew Perry (Chandler) of the hit NBC comedy that aired 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, gathered for Friends: The Reunion on HBO Max.
Amidst recreating the trivia game from “The One With the Embryos” and a fashion show (including LeBlanc recreating wearing all of Chandler’s clothes from “The One Where No One’s Ready”), the stars and executive producers (Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, David Crane) revealed secrets from filming. Read on for quite a few of them (besides Aniston and Schwimmer’s bombshell that they had feelings for one another.)
What Happened to the Beam?
“Wasn’t there a decision to lose this?” Schwimmer asked upon noticing the beam that once stood in the middle of Monica and Chandler’s apartment. “It got in the way,” he and Kudrow remembered.
Cox Had a Creative Way of Getting Her Lines Right
When LeBlanc walked onto the apartment set, he asked, “Does Courteney still have her lines written on the table?” As he recalled, when he mentioned it to her during filming, she told him, “mind your business,” so he erased all the lines. A script was always being hidden in scenes, and “it was Courteney’s,” LeBlanc confirmed. “I had so much of my dialogue in these apples,” Cox said.
Chandler & Joey’s Chairs
“Do you remember the episode where we never got out of the chairs?” LeBlanc asked as he and Perry relaxed in the loungers in Chandler and Joey’s apartment. But at first, Perry thought “it was so stupid,” which LeBlanc knew was “the brilliance” of it. Perry thought they could have fun with it, and they had a blast.
Getting the Casting Right
Schwimmer had quit television at the time after “a miserable experience doing another show,” Crane said. “We had to beg him and beseech him, ‘We wrote this for you!'” Kauffman thought they might have sent him gift baskets.
Crane’s husband Jeffrey Klarik was writing and producing Mad About You and pointed to Kudrow (Ursula, who ended up being Phoebe’s twin).
LeBlanc went down to the wire, auditioning at the network with one other actor, Louis Mandylor, who played Carl/Fake Joey in “The One With Unagi.” LeBlanc also shared that the night before the final callback, he went out drinking, blacked out, and fell face-first into the toilet. “A huge chunk of meat came off my nose,” he said, and when Kauffman asked what happened to his face, “I told her the truth and got the job.”
Though the producers thought of Cox as Rachel, the actress told them she thought she was Monica — and she was right.
Perry had been signed on to another sitcom, LAX 2194, about luggage handlers in the future at LAX. “It just sounded insane,” Kauffman said. Someone from Warner Bros. was at the taping and thought it would never go anywhere and said to put Perry in Friends.
Aniston had also been signed on to another show, Muddling Through, and had shot six episodes. She revealed she felt she had to do Friends and went to the Muddling Through producer and begged to be released. He told her, “I saw that show. I’m going to tell you something: That show’s not going to make you a star. This show’s going to make you a star.”
Schwimmer vs. Marcel
While Schwimmer is an animal lover, he did not enjoy his time with the monkey. “We would all have choreographed bits timed out, and it would get messed up because the monkey didn’t do its job right, so we’d have to reset,” he said, and the others laughed about how serious he was about it.
“When the monkey was resting, it would sit on my shoulder and the trainer would come up and give the monkey live grubs to eat, so the monkey would be sitting on my shoulder, take some grubs, break them in half,” Schwimmer added. “It was time for Marcel to f**k off.”
The Story Behind Joey’s Sling
In “The One Where No One’s Ready,” LeBlanc landed wrong on the fourth take of his and Perry’s characters fighting over the chair in Monica and Rachel’s apartment. “I remember: Firemen! There were firemen in the episode,” Aniston exclaimed. There weren’t; there were, however, some on set to help LeBlanc, whose shoulder was dislocated (as seen in the video of the moment). Then they wrote in his sling, by saying Joey hurt himself jumping on his bed.
That injury came after the stars skipped something they had done before every previous show: huddle together. “After that, we were like, ‘Do we need to do the huddle?’ and he’d say, ‘yeah!'” Kudrow said.
Worrying About Laughs
“I felt like I was going to die if they didn’t laugh, and it’s not healthy, for sure, but I would sometimes say a line and they wouldn’t laugh and I would sweat and go into convulsions if I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get,” Perry admitted. Kudrow didn’t remember him ever telling them. “I felt like that every single night,” he said.
The Fans’ Effect on Mondler
As has been well-documented, the audience changed the trajectory of Monica and Chandler’s relationship after the reveal they hooked up in London in Season 4. It went “from a one night in London thing to this could be a thing-thing,” Crane shared.
The Origin of Janice’s Laugh
As the stars agreed that Kudrow had the loudest laugh, Maggie Wheeler (who played Chandler’s ex Janice) interrupted, “I can’t believe you didn’t say me.” According to Wheeler, “Matthew Perry is so funny, and the minute I set eyes on him and he opened his mouth, I thought, ‘Oh God, I’m going to lose it, I’m going to crack up. This character needs a laugh because I’m not going to be able to get through a single scene with this guy.'” With that, Janice’s laugh was born.
Ross & Rachel Almost Didn’t Get Back Together
That big “I got off the plane” reunion for Ross and Rachel wasn’t always the plan. “There was some discussion in the writers’ room about ‘Do we really want Ross and Rachel to get together?'” Crane shared. “And we discussed perhaps ambivalent endings, where it seemed like down the road — and we went, ‘No, this is Friends. People have been waiting 10 years to see this couple get together. We’ve gotta give them what they want. We just have to find a way to do it so the journey is unexpected.'”
Friends: The Reunion, Streaming Now, HBO Max