Friends Actress Explains Why Guest Starring in Season 4 Finale was a “Harrowing” Experience


Summary

  • Olivia Williams recalls the pressure of conforming to
    Friends
    brand standards as a guest star on the iconic sitcom.
  • Guest stars like Witherspoon found appearing on
    Friends
    to be a nerve-wracking live audience experience.
  • For guest stars, appearing on
    Friends
    wasn’t always as lighthearted as it seemed on screen.



Olivia Williams has revealed how her brief appearance on the sitcom Friends was a “harrowing” ordeal to endure thanks to guest stars being required to fit in with certain expectations. Williams has appeared in many big movies, including The Sixth Sense, and recently portrayed Camilla Parker Bowles in Netflix drama The Crown, but before all of that, she appeared in the Season 4 finale of Friends back in 1998. In a new interview with The Independent, Williams recalled her experiences on the set of the sitcom, and how it was an unsettling experience.

Friends

Release Date
September 22, 1994

Seasons
10

Studio
NBC


Williams made her appearance in Friends during the two-part season finale, where she played Felicity, one of the bridesmaids to Helen Baxendale’s Emily at her wedding to Ross Geller (David Schwimmer). During the episodes, the character also had a short romantic interlude with Matt LeBlanc’s Joey. However, despite the fun seen on screen, Williams recalled the behind-the-scenes story being a whole different ballgame. She revealed:

“Gosh. Well, just as an example, I was taken to the studio in a shared car with a wonderful actress whose character, I think, was called ‘Old Woman.’ At one point, a producer – who shall remain nameless – just yelled at her: ‘You’re not funny!’ And she didn’t come back the next day. So that was alarming.

Oh, and Friends was a brand, and you had to fit the brand. You go into hair and make-up and you’re told, ‘There’s a look here, this is what we do.’ And that involved, essentially, plucking off all of your eyebrows. Literally, ‘please don’t take my eyebrows off, I might need them in another job!’ But yes, that’s that sense in which it was harrowing.”



Reese Witherspoon Also Recalled Her Guest Appearance on Friends

Reese Witherspoon as Jill Greene in Friends
NBC

While many actors and actresses dropped in on the Friends set for brief stints in the series, it seems that the trepidation around being asked to take part in the show was not just something Williams felt. Speaking with People, Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon revealed that she had never been more scared than when making her appearance on the show’s sixth season in 2000 as Rachel Green’s sister, Jill.

Witherspoon’s appearance, like Williams’, spanned two episodes, and according to the actress, who has had a career of more than 30 years, it was the scariest moment of her life. She said:


“Oh my gosh, being on Friends still to this day is one of my scariest moments ever. Because it was in front of a live audience and I’d never really done theatre. I’d never been in front of a live audience, and I was just blown away by how that cast pivoted so quickly with their jokes.”

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The reflections by Williams and Witherspoon certainly paint a picture of what it is like to appear as a guest star on an iconic TV series in what appears on-screen to be a fun, extended cameo. The reality, it seems, was very different for those appearing on Friends, and it would certainly be interesting to hear the thoughts of more big star guests about their experiences on the show. Despite coming to an end 20 years ago, Friends is still as big as it ever thanks to the series constantly being in syndication and on streaming platforms, and fans never get tired of hearing new behind the scenes stories about the franchise.


Friends
is currently available to stream on Max.



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