friends countdown

Friends Countdown: 15 Peculiar Guest-Stars

NUP_100147_0005 Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images

Turns out guest-stars were as ubiquitous to Friends as Ross’s neurosis. To much whooping and audience applause, they played janitors and zookeepers and fake-British ex-roommates. Everyone remembers Brad Pitt playing Will Colbert, co-founder of Ross’s childhood “I Hate Rachel” club, but do you remember cameos by Jennifer Coolidge and Hugh Laurie and Charlie Sheen? Here’s a rundown of the strangest guest-stars on Friends — and, often, their even stranger plotlines.

Do you remember a younger, pre-meltdown Charlie Sheen appearing as Ryan, an old boyfriend of Phoebe’s? She’s got the chicken pox, but Ryan tears off her Blanche veil and says that he wouldn’t even care if her face were covered in pox. They spend the rest of the episode scratching one another pornographically with everything from Monopoly dice to an oven mitt that looks like a cow. 

Hugh Laurie — i.e., “nameless passenger on a plane” — calls Rachel a “horrible, horrible person” in his exasperated British accent. Plus, adding insult to injury, he weighs in on the “big debate”: “It seems perfectly clear that you were on a break.” That’s the first and last we see of Hugh Laurie.

Joey relaxes a little too much after “famous director Leonard Hayes” — a.k.a. guest-star Jeff Goldblum — casts him in his play. They hug, and Joey pees all over his leg. Oops.

Before Steve Zahn was famous for playing goofy sidekick (think That Thing You Do!), he played Phoebe’s figure-skating, green-card-needing, gay-claiming husband. When Zahn’s character is finally forced to come out to Phoebe as straight: “You’re married to someone for six years, and you think you know him, and then one day he says, ‘Oh, I’m not gay.’”

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal visit Central Perk in season three as Tomas and Tim. Tim is sleeping with Tomas’s wife, Tomas thinks his wife is sleeping with her gynecologist, and the whole thing is totally ad-libbed — including when Joey has the gall to interrupt their “private” conversation. I guess when Billy Crystal and Robin Williams want to guest-star (together!) on your show, you let them do whatever they want. 

Alec Baldwin is Zesty Parker, an overenthusiastic boyfriend of Phoebe’s who compares a traffic jam to the lights of a million fairies and whom Phoebe later compares to Santa Claus on Prozac at Disneyland getting laid. Nice.

Christopher Guest favorite Jennifer Coolidge played Monica and Phoebe’s fake-British (and truly horrible) ex-roommate in season three. “Smell my neck,” she shouts at Monica. “It’s not perfume! It’s me! It’s my natural scent!”

Before Rebecca Romijn was Rebecca Romijn, she played Cheryl, Ross’s super-beautiful but super-filthy love interest. Ross kills a rat in her apartment and Cheryl worries aloud that it might have been her hamster. A year later, she would marry another Friends guest-star …

John “Spermtastic” Stamos, whose plotline also revolved around being very, very pretty. Monica and Chandler find out they can’t conceive, so Chandler brings Stamos home to be (unknowingly) vetted as a potential sperm donor.

“The One After the Superbowl”: one episode, six guest-stars. We’ll call it the mother of forcing major celebrities into strange and mostly pointless roles. Here we go: Ross is trying to visit his ex-pet monkey at the zoo. A shady zoo administrator — guest-star No. 1, Fred Willard, tells him Marcel died. But then weirdo zoo janitor — guest-star No. 2 — Dan Castellaneta tells him Marcel has actually been kidnapped and sold into show business. Ross goes to a movie set with the gang (allegedly to try to find Marcel, but really just to introduce another round of guest-stars) …

Rachel and Monica fight over the star of the movie — guest-star No. 3, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Rachel wins out. At least until Van Damme suggests a foursome with Monica and Drew Barrymore, who, unfortunately, is only on the set in name.

And then Chandler runs into a childhood friend, “Susie Underpants,” a production assistant who also happens to be guest-star No. 4, Julia Roberts. She ends up leaving Chandler stranded in a bathroom wearing only a pink thong. We’d fill you in on the details, but it’s not worth it.

Meanwhile, Joey goes on a date with a lunatic stalker who thinks that his Days of Our Lives character is real, and the stalker is guest-star No. 5: Brooke Shields.

Last — and honestly, sort of least — Phoebe is hired to perform a children’s concert by none other than guest-star No. 6, Chris Isaak. She sings about grandparents dying, they do a “Smelly Cat” duet, and he kisses her. The Friends watch on, likely relieved the episode was finally over.

Nine days down, 22 to go. See the rest of our Friends countdown here. 

Friends Countdown: 15 Peculiar Guest-Stars