Two of TV’s original ‘Friends’ are headed for a reunion when Jennifer Aniston visits Courteney Cox’s ‘Cougar Town’ this Wednesday at 9:30/8:30c, bringing much buzz to that ABC comedy’s Season 2 premiere.
But all six leading lights of the legendary ‘Friends’ haven’t been seen together since the show ended its 10th and final season in May 2004 – delivering one of the highest-rated TV finales in history, with 52.5 million viewers.
For millions of us, they were our best friends – star-crossed lovebirds Rachel Green (played by Aniston) and Ross Geller (David Schwimmer); Ross’ sister, Monica (Cox) and affable Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), who eventually married; the dim-but-lovable Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc); and ditsy, guitar-strumming Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow).
Where are they all now? Let’s catch up with some friends, in alphabetical order.
Jennifer Aniston – complain all you want about the string of lighter-than-air romantic comedies in which she has starred since the end of ‘Friends’ – ‘Picture Perfect,’ ‘The Break-Up,’ ‘The Switch”’ – but her movie career has made her easily the most bankable member of the ‘Friends’ cast. In 2007, Forbes estimated her worth at nearly $110 million. Jen, 41, is still single (ever since her divorce from Brad Pitt in 2005; maybe you read about it?), and her dating travails have been avidly followed by the supermarket tabloids and celeb weeklies.
Courteney Cox, 46, has staked her future on television. In 2007, she played an unhinged tabloid editor in ‘Dirt’ for two seasons on FX (which she also produced). Now, she is starring in and producing ‘Cougar Town.’ A fun fact about Courteney: According to Wikipedia, ‘Desperate Housewives’ creator Marc Cherry wanted her for the role of Susan Meyer, but when Cox became pregnant, he went with Teri Hatcher. Coming up for Courteney: ‘Scream 4,’ the latest entry in that big-screen franchise.
Lisa Kudrow, 47, has worked steadily since ‘Friends’ ended, turning up in movies such as ‘Hotel for Dogs,’ ‘P.S. I Love You’ and the new ‘Easy A,’ starring Emma Stone. But her greatest achievement since ‘Friends’ was her incredible but unsung performance in ‘The Comeback,’ the 2005 HBO comedy series about a washed-up former sitcom star desperate to get back on top. (Wink-wink.) Kudrow preceded ‘Friends’ co-star Aniston as a guest-star last season on ‘Cougar Town.’
Matt LeBlanc – the man who will be forever known as Joey Tribbiani – has mostly stayed off-screen since his ‘Joey’ spin-off ended in 2006. The same year ‘Joey’ bit the dust, LeBlanc divorced his wife. Now, LeBlanc is set to mount a comeback of his own in ‘Episodes,’ a Showtime comedy premiering in January. There, LeBlanc, 43, plays himself, an actor who is picked to star in a U.S. TV adaptation of a sitcom that was a hit in the U.K. Alas, the show’s British co-creators object to the casting of LeBlanc, who has been instructed to play the main character in a style that will remind American audiences of – you guessed it – Joey Tribbiani. How you doin’?
Matthew Perry, 41, made a couple of movies since ‘Friends’, including ‘Hoosiers II’ and ’17 Again’ (swapping bodies with teen heartthrob Zac Efron). He also snared a starring role in Aaron Sorkin’s short-lived NBC drama series ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,’ in 2006-07. Showtime passed on a sitcom idea called ‘The End of Steve’ that Perry developed with producer Peter Tolan (‘Rescue Me’), but ABC this year gave the greenlight to ‘Mr. Sunshine,’ a midseason-replacement comedy in which Perry will play a San Diego sports arena manager who is experiencing a midlife crisis.
David Schwimmer, 43, has spent the years since ‘Friends’ honing his skills as a director – though he did appear in the 2005 film ‘Hopwood,’ voiced the giraffe the ‘Madagascar’ movies, and guested on ‘30 Rock’ as “Greenzo,” the satirical mascot of NBC’s “green” initiative. Schwimmer helmed episodes of ‘Joey,’ the 2007 Simon Pegg movie ‘Run, Fat Boy, Run,’ and HBO’s ‘Little Britain USA. His biggest project since ‘Friends’ is a new movie, ‘Trust,’ that he spent years developing and then directed. Having made its debut this month at the Toronto Film Festival, it stars Clive Owen and Catherine Keener and concerns a family whose 14-year-old daughter is victimized by an Internet predator.
And Even More Friends: James Michael Tyler (“Gunther,” manager of Central Perk), played a therapist in two episodes of ‘Scrubs.’ • Maggie Wheeler (Chandler’s girlfriend “Janice”) continues to appear on TV, including guest shots on ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Without a Trace.’ • TV icon Tom Selleck, 65, who famously played Monica’s boyfriend Richard, stars in the new CBS cop series ‘Blue Bloods,’ premiering Friday. • Mitchell Whitfield (“Barry Farber”), does voiceover work for commercials and voiced the villainous Phobos in Disney Channel’s ‘W.I.T.C.H.’ • Larry Hankin (Monica and Rachel’s crotchety downstairs neighbor “Mr. Heckles”) has been seen on ‘CSI,’ ‘My Name Is Earl’ and ‘Breaking Bad.’ • Hank Azaria (Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend, David), continues to provide some of the best-loved voices on ‘The Simpsons,’ including Apu, Moe and Comic Book Guy. • Paul Rudd (Phoebe’s husband, Mike) has become a bonafide movie star, turning up in one movie comedy after another – from ‘Anchorman’ to ‘I Love You, Man’ and ‘Dinner for Schmucks.’ He next co-stars with (hey!) Jennifer Aniston in the upcoming comedy ‘Wanderlust.’
Did you watch the ‘Friends’ finale back in ’04? Do you still miss the show? Who was your favorite character?