‘Friends’ Director James Burrows Reveals Why He Almost Re-Cast Key Character

“Friends” director James Burrows recently hinted in his memoir he wanted to recast Helen Baxendale, who played Ross Gellar’s wife Emily on the show.

Burrows said he never found her to be “particularly funny” and that she and David Schwimmer, who played Ross, lacked chemistry, according to People. The famous director of the iconic show said the recasting of Baxendale wasn’t off the table, but the show’s “tight” deadlines prevented them from making the change.

“She was nice, but not particularly funny,” Burrows wrote in his book, according to People. “Schwimmer had no one to bounce off,” he said. “It was like clapping with one hand.”

Burrows noted the natural chemistry between Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston, who was his longtime love interest and mother of his child on the show.

“In sitcoms and any type of romantic comedy, the funny is just as important as the chemistry. We discovered that any new girlfriend for Ross needed to be as funny as Rachel,” he said.

“You need someone who gets laughs. Sometimes you start an arc and it ain’t working out, so you have to get rid of that person. If it’s a day player, it’s a quick goodbye,” Burrows said to People. (RELATED: Decades Later Fans Finally Spot Mishap With Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Friends’ Character)

He went on to say the opposite is also true, and the cast members that demonstrate a natural connection often see their contracts extended, since they become more complimentary and valuable to the show.

“If there’s chemistry, the writers go to work to figure out some way of keeping the actor,” he said.

Baxendale joined “Friends” in season 4 and appeared in 14 episodes. She was a notable character who altered the fate of Ross and Rachel’s relationship, in spite of the fact that Emily and Ross weren’t able to work things out in the plot of the show.


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