Friends featured many top-tier Hollywood stars in its 10 years on air – Julia Roberts, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt…
Last month, though, a story broke that the sitcom had missed out on a guest spot from Tom Hanks, who wasn’t able to play male nanny (or ‘manny’) Sandy in the sitcom’s 200th episode.
Freddie Prinze Jr. – who eventually played the part – told Entertainment Weekly that Hanks was actually the first choice. But speaking to RadioTimes.com, Friends co-creator David Crane said he didn’t remember approaching the Oscar winner.
“I read that somewhere… I have no recollection of that,” Crane admitted.
He added that the Friends team would always devise characters before approaching guest stars, rather than looking to sign a particular name.
“It didn’t start with pursuing actors,” Crane explained. “We would write characters, and then the casting people would come back to us and go, ‘Oh, guess who wants to do this? Julia Roberts!’ – but we never wrote ‘the Julia Roberts part’.”
Even outside of its Hollywood A-listers, Friends had some fantastic guest characters across its decade-long run – who can forget Janice (Maggie Wheeler), Gunther (James Michael Tyler) or Chandler’s crazy roommate Eddie (Adam Goldberg)?
Friends – Gunther NBC
Crane, though, admitted that he sometimes “felt bad that the guest guest was short-changed” because the show had to serve its six lead characters. “Our priority was always about writing for the six of them,” he said.
“You have six leads, which is a lot. Six leads, and generally six stories. And you really want to serve them all. Unlike some other shows where the guest cast became front and centre – for us, that just never happened.”
Comedy Central’s FriendsFestive runs until 21st December – tickets are available from www.friendsfestive.co.uk