'Friends: The Reunion': Why was Courteney Cox cast as Monica Geller? Makers say they didn't want 'stars'
Courteney Cox turned down Rachel Greene's role because she thought she was more of a Monica Geller in real life
After 236 episodes it got easier to say that the actors fit into the role perfectly. But such wasn't the case when creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman were casting for 'Friends'. It was a rigorous and equally challenging task. While getting Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry on board was most difficult given they had been signed for other shows, casting Courteney Cox turned out to be quite the head-scratcher.
By the time the makers had begun auditioning, Cox was already at top of her game with Bruce Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark' video, a supporting role in 'The Trouble with Larry' and a handful of films. She played Gabriella Easden, Larry Burton's (Bronson Pinchot) former sister-in-law in the 1993 comedy TV series.
'Friends: The Reunion' had special segments during which creators Crane and Kauffman shared their experience writing, developing, and sketching out the characters. For the most part, it felt like a breeze because they were pulling out references from their own lives. However, when it came to Monica Geller, a part that eventually went to Cox, the team was a little wary.
There was no denying that Cox brought experience and she was known to most who followed television. To cast someone with such fame was quite the risk. Crane said it worried them that at no point should it become 'The Courteney Cox Show'. "People knew Courteney but not enough so that it made it 'The Courteney Cox Show', which was always the fear because we didn't want stars," Crane explained. "But everything Courteney brought to it made Monica so much richer than what we had originally intended." Thankfully, for everyone, Cox brought a raw enthusiasm to her Geller, a joy that was hard to find in the part that was previously written.
Initially, Cox was approached to play the role of Rachel Greene, which ultimately went to Aniston. When Kauffman approached her, she had a good reason to turn the part down. Explaining it during a podcast from a few years ago, Cox said that she related to Geller more. “For some reason, I thought I related more to Monica, which maybe it’s because I do," she explained and added: "I’m very similar to her ... I’m not as clean as Monica, but I am neat. And I’m not as competitive, even though some people, my partner (musician) Johnny McDaid, would say I am."
In the 10 years that 'Friends' was on air, the actress earned several nominations for her earnest portrayal of Geller.
'Friends: The Reunion' can be streamed on HBO Max.