Lisa Kudrow very, very nearly didn't play Phoebe in Friends

Laura Hannam
Lisa Kudrow and her Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston (REX/Shutterstock)

Lisa Kudrow nearly missed out on being cast as Phoebe Buffay in FriendsFrasier director James Burrows has revealed.

Burrows, who directed Frasier for 32 episodes, directed Lisa Kudrow as Roz Doyle, only to fire her after the pilot episode wrapped in 1993.

Replaced by Peri Gilpin by the second episode, Kudrow went on to play Phoebe Buffay in Friends between 1994-2004, skyrocketing her profile to that of a household name.

Now 25 years after Frasier aired, while Burrows admits it was ‘a difficult conversation’ he still stands by his casting decision.

Lisa Kudrow with costars Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox in Friends (REX).

“The part was not in Lisa’s wheelhouse. What Lisa does, she does great. It’s the storyline of that show, [Roz] has to turn Frasier. She has to be strong. Lisa plays that airhead, stuff like that.

“We all didn’t feel like that was the right moment for her. Casting is a crazy thing. Had she not been let go, she would not be Phoebe.…Stuff like that happens all the time,” he said.

Burrows won an Emmy for directing the first season of Frasier, and Peri Gilpin appeared in 263 episodes of the hugely popular sitcom.

Kudrow of course experienced great success as Phoebe Buffay in Friends, and has since starred in many popular movies including Analyse This, Easy A, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and The Girl on the Train and also created her own online series Web Therapy.

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