It doesn’t take much to find out what Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and – thanks to the tabloid press – Jennifer Aniston are up to nowadays, but what about all the minor characters who popped up in Friends?
Some have gone on to appear in Oscar-winning movies, be named “Best Sitcom Mum”, marry famous models and bag roles in the likes of Breaking Bad, Midsomer Murders and The O.C. – while others have turned their backs on the limelight altogether.
So here’s what happened to the likes of Gunther, Janice, Tag and Emily when the doors of Central Perk closed for good...
Gunther - James Michael Tyler
Gunther, the waiter “whose hair shines brighter than the sun”, was the most frequently appearing minor character on the show, popping up in 148 of its 236 episodes. Since Friends ended, James Michael Tyler has gone on to have bit parts in other sitcoms including Scrubs (as a therapist), Modern Music, Anger Management and, as himself alongside Matt LeBlanc, in Episodes. James now lives in Hollywood where he also writes music and supports an LA-based AIDs charity.
Janice - Maggie Wheeler
For 10 years, Janice’s “Oh My Gods” sent shivers down Chandler’s spine but the actress who portrayed her has gone on to have a very successful career outside of Central Perk – possibly because Janice’s nasal tone is not actually her real voice. Maggie Wheeler has a regularly occurring role in Everybody Loves Raymond and has starred in everything from How I Met Your Mother to Californication, in which she reunited with her ex-boyfriend David Duchovny. She is now married to David Wheeler, with whom she has two children.
Erica - Anna Faris
With films like The Dictator, Scary Movie and Brokeback Mountain on her CV, Anna Faris’ acting career has gone on to eclipse her role as Erica, the naïve teenager who gave birth to Monica and Chandler’s twins. Anna is married to Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt and the couple live with their son, Jack, in the Hollywood Hills.
Frank - Giovanni Ribisi
Phoebe’s half-brother Frank Buffay Jr liked to melt things and was brilliantly portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi, who had a stellar career prior to appearing in Friends. Since the show ended, his success has continued with roles in Selma, Gangster Squad and Ted. He is a famous Scientologist and was married to model Agyness Deyn from 2012 to 2015.
Tag - Eddie Cahill
Ross and Rachel might never have been had Rachel’s Ralph Lauren personal assistant Tag been a little older, a little more mature and a little more intelligent. Eddie Cahill has not been short of work since leaving the series – avid CSI: NY fans will recognise him as Don Flack – but he’s also recently bagged the lead male role in new ABC legal drama Conviction so watch this space.
Susan - Jessica Hecht
Susan, the wife of Ross’ ex-wife Carol, was one of the most maligned characters in the show. Eagle-eyed TV addicts will have noticed Jessica Hecht when she popped up as Gretchen Schwartz in Breaking Bad but the actress has mostly turned her attention away from TV and concentrated on theatre in recent years, appearing on Broadway several times and even being nominated for a Tony Award.
Pete - Jon Favreau
Pete Becker was Monica’s millionaire boyfriend who had a bizarre – and dangerous – compulsion to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In real-life, Jon Favreau’s career choice have been much more sensible. He’s known for his roles in The Break-Up, I Love You, Man and Chef, but his big successes have come from behind the camera as he’s directed and produced some of Hollywood’s most lucrative films, including Iron Man and Disney’s latest version of The Jungle Book.
Jack Gellar - Elliott Gould
Despite his often-inappropriate remarks, we always had a soft spot for Ross’ dad, Jack. Elliott Gould starred as the Gellar patriarch in 20 episodes of the series and, despite now being 78, shows no signs of slowing down. With roles in Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen, as well as Contagion, Elliott has been keeping himself pretty busy since Friends called it a day.
Carol - Jane Sibbett
Ross’ ex-wife Carol appeared in 15 episodes of the show, usually with her antagonistic girlfriend Susan. Since Friends ended, Jane Sibbett has mostly avoided the spotlight - she’s had three children and bit parts in Ally McBeal and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Richard - Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck, who played another one of Monica’s boyfriends, was already a bona fide acting legend pre-Friends so it’s no surprise that his career since has continued to rocket. He’s appeared in a number of TV shows, including Blue Bloods, the Jesse Stone series, Boston Legal and Las Vegas.
Julie - Lauren Tom
Lauren Tom starred as Ross’ girlfriend Julie way back in the second series of Friends (remember that heart-breaking airport scene?) Since her stint on the show came to an end, Lauren has turned her talents to voice-acting. She has regular gigs in King Of The Hill and Futurama, and has guest-starred in The Penguins of Madagascar.
Alice - Debra Jo Rupp
Debra Jo Rupp played Frank Buffay’s home-economics-teacher-turned-wife, Alice. Following Friends, Debra found more success as Kitty Forman in That ‘70s Show, and was dubbed the “Best Sitcom Mum” by The Boston Herald. Her other credits include appearances in Seinfeld, Law & Order and Hart of Dixie.
David - Hank Azaria
Remember Phoebe’s boyfriend David? The one who left and went to Minsk? He was played by Hank Azaria who appeared in five episodes. Unlike his Friends character, Hank did not disappear into oblivion when the show ended. He provided the voice for Professor Fink and Moe Szyslak in The Simpsons Movie, as well as appearing in Grosse Point Blank, Ray Donovan, Night At The Museum and Great Expectations.
Joshua - Tate Donovan
Tate Donovan starred as Joshua – or as Rachel put it Josh-u-a – in season four of the show, around the time that he was engaged to Jennifer Aniston in real life. Tate seems to have the magic touch when it comes to picking good roles. After Friends, he portrayed Mischa Barton’s dad Jimmy Cooper in The O.C. and lawyer Tom Shayes in Damages. His film CV’s not too shabby either – with an appearance in the Oscar-winning Argo in 2012.
Mr Heckles - Larry Hankin
Mr Heckles was Monica and Rachel’s downstairs neighbour, who regularly complained about the noise they made, only to leave “those two noisy girls upstairs” his worldly possessions when he passed away. Larry Hankin was only 54 when he took on the part and has gone on to appear as junkyard owner Old Joe in Breaking Bad and in The Outlaw Emmett Deemus short films. Comedy is his real love and he’s recently been working with online comedy improv group, Magic Hugs.
Paolo - Cosimo Fusco
There was only one drawback to Rachel’s boyfriend Paolo – he couldn’t speak English. Italian actor Cosimo Fusco however is fluent in English – and French, which has helped him bag parts in both Europe and Hollywood. He now lives in Rome and has appeared in a number of Italian shows and movies, as well as the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestseller Angels And Demons as Father Simeon.
Emma - Noelle and Cali Sheldon
Twins Noelle and Cali Sheldon, now 14, starred as Rachel and Ross’ baby daughter Emma. In real life, the sisters seem to share their on-screen father’s scientific leanings and competed at Entomology (the study of insects) in the Hermosa Valley Science Olympiad Team. They have also appeared, together and separately, in a number of student films so maybe an acting career is on the horizon once they’ve finished with school.
Photo: Ballerini Cooley Studios
Ben - Cole Sprouse
Cole Sprouse played Ross’ son Ben from 2000 and, despite starring in Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place shortly afterwards, has turned his back on acting. Cole, now 24, studied at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where students tailor their course to their own needs and interests, and is currently working as a travel and fashion photographer – although he’s hinted at a return to TV.
Emily - Helen Baxendale
Who could forget Emily’s shocked/angry/dismayed face when she was standing at the altar and Ross said Rachel’s name instead of hers? Helen Baxendale was supposed to appear in more episodes of Friends but, as she was pregnant with her first child and unable to travel to the US, had to be written out of the series earlier than expected. It doesn’t seem to have done her career much harm – her TV credits include Cuckoo, Cold Feet and bit parts in Midsomer Murders and Poirot.
Photos: Rex Features, Ballerini Cooley Studios