CLOSE
getty images
getty images

20 Future Stars Who Appeared on Friends

getty images
getty images

Friends launched the careers of its six stars—who were each making $1 million an episode by the final seasons—and welcomed a slew of A-list guests. But there were also a bunch of now-familiar faces who appeared in small roles before making it big.

1. Craig Robinson – Clerk in “The One With Princess Consuela”  (February 26, 2004)

On Friends: He plays a store clerk in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment from Friends’ final season.

Since Friends: After a string of similarly small parts, Robinson got his big break as warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin on The Office. He’s also been a hit in Hollywood where he’s starred in a string of comedies including Hot Tub Time Machine and Pineapple Express.

2. Jim Rash – Nervous Airplane passenger in “The Last One”  (May 6, 2004)

On Friends: He sat next to Rachel in the very last episode and got increasingly agitated about the left phalange. Who wouldn’t?

Since Friends: A familiar face on the small screen, Rash has really come into his own since he landed the role as the fancy-dress obsessed Dean in kooky comedy Community. He also has achieved success behind the camera, taking home the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants.

3. Mae Whitman – Sarah Tuttle in “The One Where Rachel Quits”  (December 12, 1996)

On Friends: Whitman plays Brown Bird Sarah Tuttle who enlists the help of Ross to sell cookies after the hapless paleontologist accidentally breaks her leg.

Since Friends: Whitman has continued to make couch potatoes chortle with her turn as the anodyne Ann Veal on Arrested Development and most recently as Amber Holt on NBC’s Parenthood.

4. Ellen Pompeo – Missy Goldberg in “The One Where The Stripper Cries”  (February 5, 2004)

On Friends: She plays Missy Goldberg, the object of Chandler and Ross’ affections in a flashback to their college years.

Since Friends: Friends was one of Pompeo’s first ever roles. These days the actress is a familiar face thanks to her Golden Globe-winning turn on another broadcast behemoth, Grey’s Anatomy.

5. Scott Adsit – The Director in “The One With Ross and Monica’s Cousin” (April 19, 2001)

On Friends: He plays an up and coming director who auditions Joey for his new film. The audition predictably goes awry, however, thanks to some Silly Putty and a scene that calls for full frontal nudity. 

Since Friends: He stayed on at NBC where he played executive producer Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock.

6. Anna Faris – Erica in “The One With The Birth Mother” (January 8, 2004)

On Friends: She was the mother who decided to give Monica and Chandler her baby during Friends’ final season.

Since Friends: Faris was already something of a big deal when she popped up on Friends, having made appearances in Scary Movie and White Chicks. But it was post-Friends that her career really flourished. She's currently starring in Mom on CBS.

7. Dan Bucatinsky – The Waiter in “The One With Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner” (October 31, 2002)

On Friends: He plays a disgruntled waiter who’s forced to work around Phoebe’s predictably chaotic birthday dinner.

Since Friends: Bucantinsky has gone from strength to strength since his bit part on the smash hit sitcom. He’s perhaps most famous for his Emmy Award-winning performance as James Novak on Scandal. But did you know he’s kept the Friends connection alive by working alongside fellow alumnus Lisa Kudrow as a producer on the improv web series Web Therapy?

8. Dakota Fanning – Mackenzie in “The One With Princess Consuela” (February 26, 2004)

On Friends: She hands out advice to Joey who’s struggling to come to terms with Monica and Chandler moving to the burbs.

Since Friends: Fanning has had quite the film career. She worked with Spielberg and Cruise on War of the Worlds, Neil Gaiman on Coraline, and even found time to pop up in the Twilight Saga.

25 Future Stars Who Appeared on Seinfeld

9. Mark Consuelos – Policeman in “The One With Chandler’s Dad” (May 10, 2001)

On Friends: He plays the officer who pulls Rachel over after she’s caught speeding in Monica’s Porsche.

Since Friends: Though he was best known for his recurring role on All My Children, Consuelos’ Friends cameo led him to new pastures including movie roles in films like Cop Out and My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

10. T.J. Thyne – Dr. Oberman in “The One Hundredth”  (October 8, 1998)

On Friends: He plays Dr. Oberman, a first year medical resident with no strong feelings towards the Fonzie or any of the Happy Days gang.

Since Friends: He’s appeared on a smorgasbord of small screen hits from 24 to The O.C., but Thyne is perhaps most recognizable as Bones’ sardonic Dr. Jack Hodgins.

11. Willie Garson – Steve in “The One Where The Girl Hits Joey”  (February 18, 1999)

On Friends: He plays the President of the tenants committee who falls out with Ross after he refuses to chip in $100 for the retiring handyman at his new apartment complex.

Since Friends: Garson is best known for playing Carrie’s friend in Sex and the City.

12. Cole Sprouse – Ben Geller in “The One With The Holiday Armadillo” (December 14, 2000)

NBC

On Friends: Several actors played Ross’s son Ben, but Cole Sprouse is perhaps the most memorable—if only for showcasing why Rachel should never be left alone with children.

Since Friends: Cole has a twin named Dylan (who didn’t appear on Friends) and the duo went on to become a big deal in Disney’s smash hit series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its subsequent spinoffs.

13. Melora Hardin – Celia in “The One With The Stoned Guy”  (February 16, 1995)

On Friends: Hardin played one of Ross’ many exes, a colleague who gets attacked by Marcel but still wants the prudish paleontologist to talk dirty to her.

Since Friends: Recurring roles on Monk and The Office have helped make Hardin a familiar face. She’s also a talented musician and sang the national anthem before two NHL games in 2010.

14. Emily Osment – Lelani Mayolanofavich in “The One with the Halloween Party” (November 1, 2001)

On Friends: She plays a trick or treater who gets a check from Rachel in lieu of candy.

Since Friends: Osment found fame after appearing in two of the hit Spy Kids sequels before landing a recurring role alongside Miley Cyrus in Disney’s Hannah Montana. She’s currently the star of ABC comedy Young and Hungry.

15. Paget Brewster – Kathy in “The One With Joey’s New Girlfriend” (October 30, 1997)

On Friends: She played Kathy, the woman at the point of a love triangle between Joey and Chandler.

Since Friends: Brewster stayed on the schedules, clocking in her most on-screen hours as Supervisory Special Agent Emily Prentiss on CBS’ Criminal Minds. She’s also continued to make guest appearances on comedies like Modern Family and Community.

16. Christine Taylor – Bonnie in “The One With The Jellyfish”  (September 25, 1997)

On Friends: She was Phoebe’s friend who was supposed to be bald and crazy but turned out to be blonde and hot. She dated Ross until Rachel’s meddling led to their split.

Since Friends: She’s starred in hits including Zoolander and Dodgeball. In 2000 she married Ben Stiller.

17. Leah Remini – Lydia in “The One With The Birth” (May 11, 1995)

On Friends: A few years after playing Stacey Carosi on the Malibu Sands episodes of Saved by the Bell, Remini was a sassy mother-to-be who argues about sports with Joey—who steps in as an impromptu birth-coach when she goes into labor.

Since Friends: She starred on The King of Queens and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars, The Talk, and a TLC reality show about her family.

18. Kristin Davis – Erin in “The One With Ross's Library Book”  (November 16, 2000)

On Friends: She breaks Joey’s heart.

Since Friends: By the time this episode aired, she was making a name for herself as Sex and the City’s resident prude, Charlotte.

19. Rebecca Romijn – Cheryl in “The One With The Dirty Girl”  (November 6, 1997)

On Friends: She’s the titular “dirty girl” in this episode in which her relationship with Ross is doomed after he objects to the cleanliness of her apartment.

Since Friends: She’s most famous for her role as shape-shifting siren Mystique in the X-Men movies, though you probably wouldn’t be able to recognize her under all of the blue make up.

20. Steve Zahn – Duncan in “The One With Phoebe’s Husband”  (October 12, 1995)

On Friends: He plays Duncan, a gay Canadian ice dancer that Phoebe married in order to get him a green card.

Since Friends: After finding fame on Friends, Zahn went on to star in a string of mid-nineties hits such as That Thing You Do and You’ve Got Mail. Most recently, however, Zahn’s been plying his trade back on the small screen with a character role in Treme and a starring turn alongside Christian Slater in ABC’s Mind Games.  

See Also...


25 Things You Might Not Know About Friends (and Look What Monica's Reading!)
*
25 Future Stars Who Appeared on Seinfeld

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Warner Home Video
arrow
entertainment
10 Filling Facts About A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Though it may not be as widely known as It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been a beloved holiday tradition for many families for more than 40 years now. Even if you've seen it 100 times, there’s still probably a lot you don’t know about this Turkey Day special.

1. IT’S THE FIRST PEANUTS SPECIAL TO FEATURE AN ADULT VOICE.

We all know the trombone “wah wah wah” sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when speaking in a Peanuts special. But A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was released in 1973, made history as the first Peanuts special to feature a real, live, human adult voice. But it’s not a speaking voice—it’s heard in the song “Little Birdie.”

2. IT WASN’T JUST ANY ADULT WHO LENT HIS VOICE TO THE SPECIAL.

Being the first adult to lend his or her voice to a Peanuts special was kind of a big deal, so it makes sense that the honor wasn’t bestowed on just any old singer or voice actor. The song was performed by composer Vince Guardaldi, whose memorable compositions have become synonymous with Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang.

“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the Emmy-winning producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials—including A Charlie Brown Thanksgivingwrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in A Charlie Brown Christmas, set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit."

3. DESPITE THE VOICE, THERE ARE NO ADULTS FEATURED IN THE SPECIAL.

While Peanuts specials are largely populated by children, there’s usually at least an adult or two seen or heard somewhere. That’s not the case with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may be the only Thanksgiving special (live or animated) that does not include adults,” Mendelson wrote for HuffPo. “Our first 25 specials honored the convention of the comic strip where no adults ever appeared. (Ironically, our Mayflower special does include adults for the first time.)”

4. LUCY IS MOSTLY M.I.A., TOO.

Though early on in the special, viewers get that staple scene of Lucy pulling a football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, that’s all we see of Chuck’s nemesis in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (Lucy's brother, Linus, however, is still a main character.)

5. CHARLIE BROWN AND LUCY STILL KEEP IN TOUCH.

Though they only had a single scene together, Todd Barbee, who voiced Charlie Brown, told Noblemania that he and Robin Kohn, who voiced Lucy in the Thanksgiving special, still keep in touch. “We actually went to high school together,” Barbee said. “We still live in Marin County, are Facebook friends, and occasionally see each other.”

6. CHARLIE BROWN HAD SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS SIGNATURE “AAARRRGG.”

One unique aspect of the Peanuts specials is that the bulk of the characters are voiced by real kids. In the case of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, 10-year-old newcomer Todd Barbee was tasked with giving a voice to Charlie Brown—and it wasn’t always easy.

“One time they wanted me to voice that ‘AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGG’ when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football and Lucy yanks it away,” Barbee recalled to Noblemania in 2014. “Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate [it as] long [as] they were looking for … so after something like 25 takes, we moved on. I was sweating the whole time. I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take."

7. LINUS STILL GETS AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE.

While Barbee got a crash course in the downside of celebrity at a very early age—“seeing my name printed in TV Guide made everyone around me go bananas … everybody … just thought I was some big movie star or something,” he told Noblemania—Stephen Shea, who voiced Linus, still gets a pretty big reaction.

"I don't walk around saying 'I'm the voice of Linus,'" Shea told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. "But when people find out one way or another, they scream 'I love Linus. That is my favorite character!'"

8. THANKS TO LINUS, THE THANKSGIVING SPECIAL GOT A SPINOFF.

As is often the case in a Peanuts special, Linus gets to play the role of philosopher in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and remind his friends (and the viewers) about the history and true meaning of whatever holiday they’re celebrating. His speech about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving eventually led to This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, a kind of spinoff adapted from that Thanksgiving Day prayer, which sees the Peanuts gang becoming a part of history.

9. LEE MENDELSON HAD AN ISSUE WITH BIRD CANNIBALISM.

In writing for HuffPo for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’s 40th anniversary, Mendelson admitted that one particular scene in the special led to “a rare, minor dispute during the creation of the show. Mr. Schulz insisted that Woodstock join Snoopy in carving and eating a turkey. For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled.”

10. MENDELSON EVENTUALLY GOT HIS WAY ... THOUGH NOT FOR LONG.

Though Mendelson lost his original argument against seeing Woodstock eating another bird, he was eventually able to right that wrong. “Years later, when CBS cut the show from its original 25 minutes to 22 minutes, I sneakily edited out the scene of Woodstock eating,” he wrote. “But when we moved to ABC in 2001, the network (happily) elected to restore all the holiday shows to the original 25 minutes, so I finally have given up.”

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Shout! Factory
arrow
entertainment
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon Is Back
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

For many fans, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is as beloved a Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes and gravy (except funnier). It seems appropriate, given that the show celebrates the turkeys of the movie world. And that it made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1988 (on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis). In 1991, to celebrate its third anniversary, Comedy Central hosted a Thanksgiving Day marathon of the series—and in the more than 25 years since, that tradition has continued.

Beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Shout! Factory will host yet another Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hosted by series creator Joel Hodgson and stars Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. Taking place online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, or via the Shout! Factory TV app on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and select smart TVs, the trio will share six classic MST3K episodes that have never been screened as part of a Shout! Factory Turkey Day Marathon. Here’s hoping your favorite episode makes it (cough, Hobgoblins, cough.)

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios