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Lisa Kudrow just got real about why she “struggled” to play Phoebe Buffay in Friends

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Megan Murray
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When Lisa Kudrow lost her grip on how to play the character Phoebe Buffay, it was Matt Le Blanc who gave her the advice she needed. 

If you’re a true Friends fan, there’ll be a special place in your heart for Monica, Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe. Because, when put together, this quintet has the magic and perfect chemistry that made the show one of the most well-known and well-loved series of all time.

Out of the six main characters, you could argue that there’s one who, thanks to her eccentricity, off-kilter kookiness and complex origin story, would be more fun to play than any of the others. 

After all, surely flexing your acting muscles as a woman who lived on the street (but speaks fondly of it), writes songs about cats with hygiene issues, has an evil identical twin, insisted on space hoppering her way around New York City for her 30th birthday and comes out with lines like “your love is like a giant pigeon crapping on my heart” would allow for boundless creative flair? 

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We are, of course, talking about the weird and wonderful Phoebe Buffay. However, in a surprise twist, actor Lisa Kudrow has now admitted that she didn’t enjoy playing Phebes as much as you’d think. In fact, as she told Kevin Nealon during an interview for his YouTube series, she “struggled” with the character, eventually reaching out to co-star Matt Le Blanc for help. 

Speaking about the journey between initially taking on the character and season three, Kudrow explains that after nailing the audition she found Phoebe trickier than she’d prepared herself for. 

Kudrow says: “[I felt like], ‘Shit, I tricked them at the audition. I was the only one who could cope with the audition process and that’s how I got it’. So I had to work hard at being Phoebe. And then, like, third season in, I was struggling so much.”

It’s well known that the Friends stars are all real life friends too, so it particularly warms our hearts to hear that Kudrow went to Le Blanc (who played Joey) for advice when she felt like she was losing grip on the character. 

Recalling how Le Blanc had noticed that Kudrow seemed to be a little bit off, she continues: “Le Blanc was like, ‘What’s going on with you?’ And I said, ‘I can’t, I don’t think I have it. I don’t know what I’m doing.’”

Le Blanc’s advice was straightforward and grounding. He reminded Kudrow of how well she was doing and told her to take the pressure off, saying: “‘You’re her. Relax. You got it. You’ve been doing this fucking character for three years. You’re working too hard. That’s your problem. You don’t need to work as hard. Relax.’”

Kudrow says that Le Blanc’s advice was just what she needed to hear, once again cementing our faith in the on-and-off screen friendships of our favourite gang. After all, it may have been 15 years since the final episode aired, but we can’t help squeezing every drop of 90s nostalgia out of Friends possible – and we can’t see that changing any time soon. 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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