Friends nearly cast this comedy movie legend as Phoebe

It's almost impossible to imagine anyone other than Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe in comedy series Friends, but the TV series auditioned some other big names.

Lisa Kudrow played Phoebe in comedy series Friends

The Friends cast found themselves catapulted to instant fame when one of the best comedy series ever made became a massive hit, as the peak of ‘90s TV shows. Lisa Kudrow was one of those actors, starring in the TV series as the eccentric Phoebe Buffay.


Kudrow’s performance is a highlight of the show along with the rest of the hilarious ensemble, so it’s no surprise that Friends remains a big hitter on HBO Max – its streaming service home.

But, in the early days of Friends being developed for NBC, there were some names other than Kudrow who were in the mix for the plum role of Phoebe.

One of those names was Jane Lynch, who is best known to modern audiences for playing the villainous cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester in the musical series Glee.

However, she has been a stalwart of the best comedy movies and TV series for years, with roles in the likes of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Best In Show, Role Models, and Talladega Nights – as well as sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Stand-up comedian Kathy Griffin, who was herself in the frame to play Phoebe, revealed to Huffington Post that Lynch joined her during the audition process. “I love me some Jane Lynch. I’ve known Jane since we were both auditioning. I think we were auditioning for Phoebe on Friends like all my other girlfriends did.”

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It certainly wouldn’t have been the same Phoebe if Lynch had got the role, given she is more widely known for formidable roles like her Emmy-winning work in Glee. She would likely have given Phoebe a very different edge.

For more from Friends, check out our list of the best Friends episodes. And for more small screen fun, we’ve got you covered on the best thriller series, the best horror series, the best anime series, and the best Netflix series.