“Friends: The Reunion” did not disappoint die-hard fans who got to re-live their favorite moments and hear never-before-told stories from the show’s iconic cast, including Alabama’s own Courteney Cox, who played competitive master chef Monica Gellar.
And we learned a little more about Monica’s history, with Cox sharing her favorite episode and feelings about other aspects of the beloved series during the HBO Max special.
The reunion saw stars Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer (plus special guests) gather to discuss everything from their casting process, show romances, bloopers and other cherished memories. A Variety report said, “Sources close to the project told Variety last year that each of the six stars would receive at least $2.5 million for participating in the special.”
“Friends” was one of the highest-rated shows on TV during its 10-season run on NBC, 1994-2004. The series provided a breakthrough role for Cox, who was born and raised in Birmingham, and cemented her fame as an actress. Her character, Monica Geller, was a neat-freak chef who could be bossy, obsessive, anxious, wacky, kind and caring — sometimes all at once.
These are a few new things we learned about Cox and her character Monica during the “Friends” reunion.
She was almost too famous to be on the show (and nearly played Rachel)
Show creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane said they wanted to hire all unknowns for the six roles, so Cox’s notable work in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” music video and the sitcom “Family Ties” had them worried casting her would make it “The Courteney Cox Show.” They said they were having a tough time casting Monica, first seeing Cox as more of a Rachel during auditions. When she explained her personality actually aligned with Monica’s, the producers agreed. “Courteney brought this incredible joy to the character,” Kauffman said. “Everything Courteney brought to it made Monica so much richer than what we had originally intended,” Crane said.
She was scared of Marcel the monkey
Before David Schwimmer’s anecdote revealing his disdain for working with the white-headed capuchin monkey, a frightened Cox muttered, “The monkey scared me.” Yet another thing the Gellars had in common, apparently.
Jennifer Aniston remembers what Cox wore to the first table-read
Some of the cast members’ memories appear to be better than others. It’s fitting that the woman who played fashion expert Rachel would remember (with vivid detail) what her co-stars wore during their first-ever table-read, when they all got a feel for how the series would begin. While Kudrow wore “a white lacey, hippie-ish blouse and jeans, Aniston said Cox wore “a pink babydoll tee from Fred Segal with a white trim.”
She hid scripts on the set (and one castmate would prank her)
As soon as LeBlanc walked on to the main set of Monica’s apartment, he looked down at the kitchen table and asked if Cox’s lines were still written on the table. He said one day he erased them all to prank her, and she didn’t take it well. “She got so mad at me,” he told Aniston and Kudrow. He also said she kept a script in the sink, and within apples on the same table. “I have memory issues,” she said. Cox was fifth to show up for the set reunion, where LeBlanc relayed the story to her. “That’s so mean!” she told her giggling co-star.
Her favorite episode is…
“I love the Thanksgiving ones, but I also…I loved when we traded…when we lost the apartment,” Cox said, referring to “The One with the Embryos,” the 12th episode of season four, one of the show’s most popular. “That quiz was really fun and really devastating.”
David Beckham most identifies with Monica
Yes, that David Beckham. The international soccer superstar appeared with an unexpected endorsement. Noting when he’s on the road and missing his family, he puts on “Friends” because it makes him smile. “I’d have to say I’m most like Monica because I’m a clean freak.”
Chandler and Monica were not supposed to stay together
The unlikely romance drew a shocked response from the live studio audience, with Cox even cracking a blooper-worthy gag between the sheets, which she said Perry suggested. But producers said they weren’t meant to last as a couple. “The way the audience reacted, we realized there’s way more to this, and we need to pay attention,” co-creator Marta Kauffman said. “It was such a powerful moment that we knew we needed to explore it more.”
She was semi-relieved Aniston and Schwimmer didn’t really date
Aniston and Schwimmer re-lived the scene where Rachel and Ross first kiss, a moment Cox said caused her to weep when she’d recently watched “The One Where Ross Finds Out.” “The tension, it was just palpable. It was perfect,” she said. Schwimmer explained the two had real crushes on each other but, out of respect for each other’s actual relationships, they never crossed that line. Cox suggested if they had dated and subsequently broken up, the show and cast’s chemistry might have suffered. “If you had and it didn’t work out, it would not have probably been as great.” That’s a pretty big what-if for “Friends” fans.
Where is Monica now, according to Cox?
Corden asked where each character would be today. Aniston said Rachel and Ross are married with children, while LeBlanc suggested Joey opened a sandwich shop at Venice Beach and Phoebe is guiding her similarly “different” kids through art school. “I think Monica is still really competitive,” Cox said. “Her kids are probably graduated, in charge of the bake sale at elementary school. And you [Chandler] are making me laugh every day.”
This might be the last time you see the group together on screen
During the closing moments of the reunion, the cast reflected on their time on the series, with Cox insisting it was even more special because it likely marked the last time they’d gather for television. “We’re not going to do this again in 15 more years,” she said. Was this really the first and last “Friends” reunion?