15 Actors You Didn’t Know Almost Starred in ‘Friends’

It’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Jennifer Aniston playing our favorite waitress turned fashion world corporate climber Rachel Green, but did you know Jane Krakowski also auditioned for the part AND was also considered for the role of Phoebe Buffay? Here are all the stars who almost played our favorite TV besties.
1
Jane Krakowski - Rachel and Phoebe
Jane Krakowski
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Jane revealed to Giuliana Rancic at the 2015 Emmys that she auditioned to play the part made iconic by Jennifer Aniston. "I, like almost every actor in the world, auditioned for Friends," she said. "I wish I had gotten that one. I actually auditioned for Rachel and didn't go very far." It's also been said that show creators had Jane in mind for the role of Phoebe, too!

2
Ellen DeGeneres - Phoebe
Ellen DeGeneres
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The famous funny lady was actually the producers' first choice to play quirky Phoebe Buffay, but Ellen turned the role down. She's since gone on to be the daytime talk show queen with her own show, as well as one of the funniest people on the planet.
3
Leah Remini - Monica
Leah Remini
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The King of Queens star also auditioned to play Monica but was ultimately not chosen. Leah did appear on the show, though, in the episode "The One With the Birth" when Ross welcomes his son Ben into the world.
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4
Jon Cryer - Chandler
Jon Cryer
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The future Two and a Half Men star revealed in an interview: “I was doing a play in London and got a call at 3 a.m. saying ‘We’ve got this show called Six of One (the working title of Friends), and we’d really like you to audition for it. So they faxed me the script, and I said, ‘Sure, I’d love to go in on this.’ I went in and read with a British casting person; they took the tape and said they’d get it to L.A. So I went home, and a few days later was told the tape didn’t get there in time for the network executives to see.” Bummer!
5
Jane Lynch - Phoebe
Jane Lynch
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Jane Lynch went on to mega-fame as Sue Sylvester on Glee, but it's rumored she auditioned for the role of Phoebe years prior. Wish we could see that audition tape!
6
Kathy Griffin - Phoebe
Kathy Griffin
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The comedian was at the forefront of producers' minds when doing initial casting for the show, but was ultimately not chosen. Could you imagine Phoebe with fiery red hair?!
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7
Elizabeth Berkley - Rachel
Elizabeth Berkley
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After winning audiences' hearts as do-gooder Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell, but before shocking the world with her racy role as Nomi Malone in cult classic Showgirls, Elizabeth auditioned for the role of Rachel on Friends! She definitely had the gorgeous hair and the charm for it!
8
Jon Favreau - Chandler
Jon Favreau
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The actor and director was offered the role of Chandler but turned it down to focus on other projects. True Friends fans will recognize him as Monica’s super rich boyfriend (and wannabe cage fighter) Pete.
9
Tea Leoni - Rachel
Tea Leoni
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Show producers strongly considered Tea for the role of Rachel, but she turned down the part to star in another show, called The Naked Truth. That show was cancelled during its third season and is largely forgotten about, so we say she didn't make the best choice there. Oh well!
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10
Nancy McKeon - Monica
Nancy McKeon
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A former head of casting at NBC said that The Facts of Life star also read for the part of Monica. “She gave a terrific performance," she explained, and all were torn, so "they went off for a walk and came back and said Courteney.” Ouch!
11
Hank Azaria - Joey
Hank Azaria
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The actor has had many successful roles in huge movies, but couldn't catch a break with Friends producers. He explained: “I went and auditioned for Joey and got rejected. But – and this was the first and only time I’ve done this – I asked to go back in. I said, ‘I know you said ‘no’ to me once, but I just want to try it again, because I like that show that much.’ And I went back in… And I got another very quick ‘no.’ As quick as the first time.” Yikes.
12
Eric McCormack - Ross
Eric McCormack
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Before his star-making role on Will and Grace, Eric apparently came very close to being Ross Geller. He even had multiple auditions!
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13
Craig Bierko - Chandler
Craig Bierko
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Writers later revealed that, for the role of beloved Chandler: "We brought everybody in. We were so sure that Chandler would be the easiest part to cast. It’s got the most joke jokes. It’s sarcastic and kind of quippy, but no one could do it. No one.” The closest they got was Craig, who was apparently coached by Matthew Perry. He read the script and passed, but was not chosen in the end. 
 
14
Janeane Garofalo - Monica
Janeane Garofalo
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The Friends writers and producers had a different idea in mind for the uptight and hilarious Monica Geller.  “When we originally wrote the role, we had Janeane Garofalo’s voice in our head,” said show creator David Crane. “Darker and edgier and snarkier.”
15
Courteney Cox - Rachel
Courteney Cox
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“We originally offered Rachel to Courteney Cox,” the show's co-creator Marta Kauffman said. Courteney allegedly requested to audition for the role of Monica because she wanted a "stronger female role." The creators gave in, and of course we now know the rest is history!

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