Movies – Friends: 10 Cast Member Side Movie Projects
After premiering in fall 1994, Friends became a television phenomenon, and although its entire cast had worked in movies and TV before, it catapulted them to superstardom, making them instant mega-stars. So, naturally, as what happens with hot TV actors, they’re given the chance to branch out into movies, which they usually shoot during the show’s summer hiatus.
However, the various cast members’ attempts at movie careers were a mixed bag, and while some found some success, others didn’t really at all. Since Friends ended, only Aniston found movie success, while the others either tried television again or stepped away from the spotlight altogether.
10 David Schwimmer – Band Of Brothers
In the 90s, David Schwimmer’s attempt at rom-com career wasn’t meant to be, after starring in flops like The Pallbearer and Kissing A Fool, but in 2001, he starred in the landmark miniseries, Band of Brothers, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. The mini-series revolved around the members of the infantry regiment known as “Easy Company,” as they navigate through training and then combat during World War II.
Schwimmer appeared in three episodes as Captain Sobel, Easy Company’s petty, erratic, and dilettante Captain. While the show was critically acclaimed, Schwimmer was singled-out for being miscast. Following Friends, Schwimmer focused more on directing theatre and film, but received acclaim for playing Robert Kardashian on The People Vs. O.J Simpson.
9 Matt LeBlanc – Lost In Space
Matt LeBlanc didn’t have too much luck regarding side projects during Friends’ run. His first movie following his start on Friends was Ed, the monkey-playing-baseball comedy bomb. However, LeBlanc briefly flirted with being an action star when he took the role of Don West, pilot of the Jupiter Two, in the big-screen adaptation of the TV show Lost In Space, alongside Gary Oldman and William Hurt.
Leblanc is actually quite good in the role, succeeding in playing someone very different from Joey, and it’s a shame he never pursued more action roles. The movie received mixed reviews and was a modest hit, but it’s most notable for dethroning Titanic’s number one spot at the box office after three months. LeBlanc infamously followed up Friends with Joey, but later found success playing a version of himself on the Showtime series, Episodes.
8 Jennifer Aniston – Picture Perfect
Following Friends growing popularity, it was only natural to make Jennifer Aniston the next rom-com sweetheart. Her first, Picture Perfect, follows Aniston as an advertising exec who passes off a stranger (Jay Mohr) as her fiance to her boss so she can get a promotion.
Picture Perfect received mixed reviews and was only a modest box office success, as Aniston’s star power hadn’t fully sunk in yet. Jay Mohr has said the movie was a terrible experience, as Aniston disagreed with his casting.
7 Matthew Perry – The Whole Nine Yards
Matthew Perry never struck gold in his movie career either, although one movie stands out among the pack: the black comedy The Whole Nine Yards. Perry plays a dentist who suspects his new neighbor (Bruce Willis) is a hitman. The movie received mixed reviews and was a modest box-office success.
Following the movie’s release, Bruce Willis had a multi-episode arc on Friends as Rachel’s love interest and the father of Ross’ girlfriend. Willis and Perry would reunite for the critically panned sequel, The Whole Ten Yards, which flopped. Perry attempted a television comeback several times after Friends ended with no success and has pretty much stepped away from the limelight.
6 Lisa Kudrow – The Opposite Of Sex
Lisa Kudrow went the indie route with The Opposite Of Sex and it paid off. The movie stars Christina Ricci as a pregnant 16-year-old who ends up seducing her gay half-brother’s boyfriend. They run off together and his sister (Kudrow) must track them down.
The role was a big departure from Phoebe Buffay and was a hit with critics. Kudrow was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards and she won for Best Supporting Actress at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.
5 Jennifer Aniston – Bruce Almighty
After a string of independent movies and modest box-office successes, Aniston finally added blockbuster to her filmography by pairing up with Courteney Cox’s Ace Ventura co-star, Jim Carrey. Aniston plays the girlfriend of Bruce, a frustrated reporter who briefly gets to see what it’s like to be God.
The movie received mixed reviews, but was an enormous box-office success, making it not only Jim Carrey’s highest-grossing film to date, but Aniston’s, as well.
4 Jennifer Aniston – Office Space
In 1999, Aniston went more indie and starred in the cult classic Office Space, a satirical black comedy about office workers. Aniston stars as Joanna, a restaurant waitress who shares the lead’s (Ron Livingston) hatred of work-life, leading them to begin a relationship.
While the movie was a commercial failure, it became a cult classic thanks to home video for its humorous yet relatable depiction of everyday office work life.
3 Lisa Kudrow – Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion
Based on a play that starred Lisa Kudrow, Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion revolves around two ditzy blondes (Kudrow and Mira Sorvino) who haven’t achieved anything in life, so they make up new cool lives for themselves to impress their classmates at their high school reunion.
The movie was a critical success and became a cult classic, ultimately spawning a made-for-TV-prequel and a musical. Kudrow has headlined only a few movies since, appearing mostly in bit parts, but she’s found more success on television in shows like Web Therapy and The Comeback.
2 Jennifer Aniston – The Good Girl
After starring in a mix of Hollywood films and low budgets movies, Aniston went the truly independent route with the Sundance hit, The Good Girl. Aniston portrays a depressed cashier who adds some excitement to her life when she begins an affair with a troubled new co-worker (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Many critics noted Aniston’s absolutely beautiful against-type-performance. She, along with the film, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. Unfortunately, Aniston never followed up The Good Girl with anything as acclaimed, and Friends’ end would be the true start of her movie career in big-budget comedies and romances. Only somewhat recently has she returned to independent film and complex characters as seen in Cake and the new Apple + series, The Morning Show.
1 Courteney Cox – Scream
During Friends’ run, Courteney Cox didn’t make many movies, however, she ended up with the biggest hit of them all, starring as intrepid reporter Gale Weathers in Scream and the sequels that followed. The film series, directed by horror legend Wes Craven, became a pop culture phenomenon and is one of the most acclaimed horror franchises commercially and critically in movie history.
After Friends ended, Cox found success on TV with shows like Cougar Town and Dirt and has since begun directing. In 2014, her directorial debut, Just Before I Go, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also starred in Scream 4 and recently wrapped filming on Scream 5, due out later this year.
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