“I wasn’t prepared for the amount of venom I was about to receive in a live audience where they actually booed my character,” Tom admitted.
Ross and Rachel’s turbulent love story throughout the 10 seasons of Friends may just be one of the most iconic story lines. Ever. The on-off relationship between two of the show’s central characters had many of us hooked to our screens. Whether you loved them or hated them, there’s no denying that Ross and Rachel’s journey was one of the driving forces behind Friends’ popularity.
In fact, Friends’ fans were so invested in Ross and Rachel’s relationship that they booed the actress who played Ross’ girlfriend Julie when she appeared on set - much to her dismay.
Lauren Tom, who played Julie, said “rabid” fans who were rooting for Rachel jeered at her — and although she says she understood the fans investment, she also admits she found it hard to deal with.
Speaking to Today, Tom revealed how she felt unprepared to deal with the negative reaction her character received.
“I wasn’t prepared for the amount of venom I was about to receive in a live audience where they actually booed my character,” she admitted. “And, of course, I was trying very hard not to get my feelings hurt. So I had to get used to that. But I did understand intellectually that, you know, the audience was meant to be rooting for Rachel. Even I was rooting for Rachel, on some level, ‘cause I was a fan of the show.”
Tom’s character Julie appeared in seven episodes in season two of the hit sitcom. Her relationship with Ross comes to an end after Rachel reveals her true feelings for Ross via a message on his answer machine. Viewers never see Ross and Julie’s breakup, but we are told that it was harsh and that Julie was very angry.
Since appearing on Friends, Tom has worked extensively across TV, film and the stage — but she says that her appearance as Julie continues to attract her the most attention.
“I’ve studied classical theatre. And I’ve done all the stage work, and tried to position myself at the beginning of my career as a serious actress, and yet, I’m probably most known for Friends,” she explained.
Tom’s interview appeared on Today as part of a series of interviews with Friends’ guest stars in the lead up to the show’s 25th anniversary on the 22 September.
And although we understand the fans’ investment in the storyline (weren’t we all just a little frustrated with Ross and Rachel at some point during the series?) it’s surprising to imagine fans booing as the story unfolded. Even if Julie, Ross and Rachel are just fictional characters, there’s still something deeply unsettling about people blaming a woman just because they don’t agree with the person she’s dating.
25 years after the show began, we’re still just as obsessed as we once were. Unfortunately, we already know a Friends reunion is off the cards, so we’ll just live off stories from the set for now — honestly, we’ll take all we can get.