Scarily, it’s now 20 years since the first episode of ‘Friends’ aired. Over the next decade, the world became obsessed with the goings-on of those six funny New York types Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey - and made the stars who played them household names.
But what happened next for the cast of era’s most successful sitcom? How many used their ‘Friends’ profile to become major Hollywood stars? To find out, we dusted off our office calculator to tot up their box office success (or lack thereof) since the show’s teary finale aired in May 2004.
Total box office takings since 2004: £1.1bn
No, we didn’t expect David Schwimmer to be the most highest grossing main cast member either. His whopping post-‘Friends’ haul comes almost entirely from voicing Melman in the ‘Madagascar’ franchise, and puts him around £90 million ahead of Jennifer Aniston. Besides playing comedy giraffes, Schwimmer has dabbled in directing since the show finished, helming the Simon Pegg comedy ‘Run, Fat Boy, Run’ and his own Broadway play, ‘Fault Lines’.
Total box office takings since 2004: £1.05bn
Schwimmer may’ve grossed slightly more, but Jen is the clear winner in the Battle of the Friends - the series’ only main castmember to become a bona fide movie star since the end of the show. After starring in seemingly every rom-com made in the last decade, Aniston has dabbled in edgier material recently, playing a scary nymphomaniac in ‘Horrible Bosses’ and a woman living with chronic pain in the upcoming ‘Cake’. Many critics think the latter could land her an Oscar nomination.
Total box office takings since 2004: £267m
Like her on-screen brother Ross, much of Monica’s movie success (over £200m of it) comes from lending her voice to kids’ films, such as the inexplicably high-grossing ‘Barnyard: The Original Party Animals’. The rest comes from the horror sequel ‘Scream 4’. She’s now concentrating her career on TV, appearing as a sexy older woman in the hit series ‘Cougar Town’ since 2009.
Total box office takings since 2004: £225m
The actress best known as Phoebe has achieved moderate success with her career since those Central Perk days. Parts in ‘PS I Love You’, ‘Easy A’ and ‘Hotel for Dogs’ and even a spot opposite Courteney Cox in ‘Cougar Town’ have all helped pay the rent post-Friends. Though fans of ‘Smelly Cat’ will wonder why she didn’t pursue a career in music…
Total box office takings since 2004: £99m
Most people expected big things from the joker in the pack, Chandler. Hits like the Bruce Willis-starrer ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ and rom-com ‘Fools Rush In’ during his ‘Friends’ days didn’t really continue post-2004, with the exception of ‘17 Again’ alongside Zac Efron. A star in need of a good project.
Total box office takings since 2004: $0m
Oh dear. The biggest box office flop by far. Movie parts have proved as elusive as laughs were in his ‘Friends’ spin-off, ‘Joey’. We wonder if having played a struggling actor for so long rubbed off on LeBlanc. His biggest success was the BBC meta-comedy ‘Episodes’, for which he won a Golden Globe.
Other notable cast members:
Total box office takings since 2004: £2.6bn
'Swingers' star Favreau played Monica's rich mixed martial arts fighter ex Pete in season three and, it’s fair to say, has done alright since the show finished, racking up billions at the box office. He’s had parts in the 'Iron Man' movies (as director of the first two he could cast himself…), 'Couples Retreat, 'The Break-Up', 'Four Christmases', 'G Force' and 'Open Season'. A major Hollywood director with an uncanny knack of picking supporting roles in successful movies.
Total box office takings since 2004: £2.3bn
Speaking of which, the guy that played Phoebe’s odd brother Frank has also landed himself some juicy bit parts since the show finished. These include ‘Avatar’, which made nearly 2 billion on it’s own, and Seth MacFarlane surprise hit ‘Ted’.
Total box office takings since 2004: £1.4bn
In the last-ever ‘Friends’ series ‘Scary Movie’ star Faris played Erica, the mother of the baby that Chandler and Monica adopt. Faris’ stock has shot up massively since then, with her appearing in hit comedies ‘The House Bunny’ and ‘Observe and Report’ as well as voicing for the ‘Alvin and the Chipmunk’ sequels alongside ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’. Now has her own TV show ‘Mom’ on CBS.
Total box office takings since 2004: £1.04bn
As scientist David, Hank Azaria was a love rival for Paul Rudd’s Mike. The pair are also box office competitors too, with Hank appearing in ‘Dodgeball’, ‘Along Came Polly’ and ‘Night at the Museum: The Battle at the Smithsonian’. He’s had lots of hits with his voice work too, including ‘The Simpsons Movie’, ‘Open Season’ and ‘The Smurfs Movie’.
Total box office takings since 2004: £920m
Lovable Paul Rudd, who played Phoebe’s boyfriend (and later husband) Mike, has segued effortlessly into big screen comedy hits and is now a huge star boasting the likes of ‘The 40 Year-Old Virgin’, ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Role Models’ on his impressive CV. A leading role in Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’ is sure to tip him into the billion-dollar gang.
Total box office takings since 2004: £501m
Ross and Monica’s dad Jack was a big deal before ‘Friends’, during ‘Friends’ and will forever remain a Hollywood heavyweight. As he gets older his work rate’s slowed down a bit, but he’s still popped up in, amongst others, ‘Ocean’s Twelve’, ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ as well as disease flick ‘Contagion’.
Total box office takings since 2004: £0m
Thankfully for popcorn-munchers across the globe, Chandler’s ex Janice and her brain-drilling laugh haven’t echoed out in many multiplexes. As far as we can tell the few indie projects she’s co-starred in haven’t had a cinema release. She’s been busy with plenty of TV work though.
James Michael Tyler
Total box office takings since 2004: £0m
Aside from one episode of ‘Scrubs’ and a couple of TV movies, coffee shop owner Gunther has had about as much luck with work as he had scoring a date with Rachel. He did have a cameo in ‘Episodes’ though as himself with old ‘Friends’ star Matt LeBlanc.