Know your Friends

Little-known facts from the hit sitcom

Jennifer Aniston is from a Greek family. She lived in Greece for a year as a child and her godfather was Telly Savalas. Her family name was originally Anastassakis. As an inside joke, the name was used in the Greek wedding featured in series 7.

The artwork in Central Perk is changed every three episodes, and is a sought-after showcase among artists.

As a struggling actor, the character of Joey has starred as Pinocchio in a children's production, as Sigmund Freud in the musical of his life, a poster boy for venereal disease, and as Al Pacino's 'butt double'.

Courteney Cox Arquette's breakthrough role was as Alex Keaton's (Michael J Fox) girlfriend in the sitcom Family Ties . In a case of life imitating art, she subsequently dated a real-life Keaton, Hollywood actor Michael, for two years.

The sitcom Mad About You features Phoebe's twin sister, the character Ursula, as a ditzy waitress in a restaurant. Lisa Kudrow was already starring in Mad About You when Friends began, so the writers wrote Ursula into the script by giving Phoebe a twin.

Matthew Perry nearly became a tennis pro. He was No.2 in the Canadian junior rankings.

Each episode of Friends requires an average of 30,000 ft of film to be shot.

James Michael Tyler, who plays Gunther, was discovered working in a real coffee shop. He was invited onto the show as an extra, and ended up playing Gunther because he was the only extra who knew how to work the cappuccino machine.

Marcel, Ross' pet monkey, was actually played by two female monkeys, Monkey and Katie, who were fresh from starring alongside Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman in the feature film Outbreak .

The six stars of Friends have all notched up several cameo roles each. Jennifer Aniston has done South Park and The Larry Sanders Show, Courtney Cox Arquette was on Larry Sanders and Seinfeld, and Lisa Kudrow guested on The Simpsons and King of the Hill. Matt Le Blanc was in Married with Children, Matt Perry has appeared in Ally McBeal, The Simpsons, and the great Beverly Hills 90210. David Schwimmer was in The Wonder Years, NYPD Blue, and recently in the acclaimed Band of Brothers.

Jennifer Aniston had a painting exhibited at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art when she was only 11.

Before Friends started, Matthew Perry wrote a sitcom called Maxwell House , about a bunch of twentysomething friends hanging out together. NBC was interested, but decided instead to go for another option - Friends.

First published: December 30, 2002

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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