Lisa Kudrow Considered Quitting Acting After ‘Friends’

Friends star Lisa Kudrow made a nice career out of being the lovable Phoebe Buffay for the show’s eight-season run. But once the sitcom reached its end, Kudrow thought that her acting career would, too.

Lisa Kudrow wasn’t sure what she would do after ‘Friends’

Lisa Kudrow at the premiere of the Los Angeles Premiere of Disney
Lisa Kudrow | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Kudrow has been finding steady work in the film industry after Friends’ series finale. Her filmography shows she’s been quite a busy actor both on the big and small screens over the years. Some of her notable post-Friends material include Easy A, Neighbors, and the short-lived HBO series The Comeback. But initially, Kudrow didn’t know if her future had more acting in store after she parted ways with Phoebe. She considered channeling her creativity through other means.


“I’d like to write – get off my butt and do a script or a novel or something,” she once told Style (via Irish Examiner).

At the time, Kudrow was also weary of the film roles that were available for actors of her type. She believed most movies in the early-to-mid 2000s catered to a particular group of actors.

“It’s hard to find scripts where women get to be smart and flawed, without being ditsy. Movies are so careful now. Anyone who isn’t a white man has to be treated with such respect, so the only characters who can be flawed are white men,” she said. “But that just ensures that white men have the only interesting parts.”

But it seems, given her successful post-Friends run, that there might’ve been more quality roles available for Kudrow than she thought.

Lisa Kudrow almost quit ‘Friends’

Kudrow came close to possibly quitting acting far before Friends’ conclusion. As early as season 3, the Emmy-winner was beginning to have doubts about her role on the show. Combined with the potential overwhelming workload of Friends, Kudrow started looking for a way out of the show.

“I had played dumb girls, sure, but it wasn’t really me,” Kudrow once said in an interview with Kevin Nealon. “I feel like s***; I tricked them. At the audition, I was the only one who could cope with the audition process and that’s how I got it, I think. So I had to work hard at being Phoebe, you know.”

Eventually, Friends castmate Matt LeBlanc noticed Kudrow’s frustrations, and his words of comfort kept her on the show.

“I was struggling so much and LeBlanc was like, ‘What’s going on with you?’ And I said, ‘I can’t, I don’t think I have it, I mean, I don’t know what I’m doing’. And he went, ‘You’re her, relax, you got it. You’ve been doing this f***ing character for three years. You’re working too hard. That’s your problem. You don’t need to work this hard. Relax.’ And he was right,” she said.

Why Lisa Kudrow couldn’t watch ‘Friends’ reruns

Kudrow, like most of the Friends cast, had pleasant memories of her time on the show. Even years later, she remembered clearly what it was like doing the show’s iconic pilot episode.

“We were like little puppy dogs, just climbing all over each other and playing and playing games,” Kudrow recalled in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “It was fun.”

Despite how much she enjoyed the Friends experience, she couldn’t bring herself to watch any of the show’s reruns.

“I don’t watch it if it’s on,” Kudrow said. “I might not like myself [on the show], so I’d rather not risk that.”

This feeling wasn’t new to Kudrow. On an interview on WTF with Marc Maron, Kudrow confided that she’d always had these insecurities.

“You see yourself on TV and it’s that, ‘Oh, my God, I’m just a mountain of a girl,’” Kudrow said on Monday’s episode of the podcast. “I’m already bigger than Courteney and Jennifer — bigger, like my bones feel bigger. I just felt like this mountain of a woman next to them,” she said.

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