Friends was one of those TV shows that defined a generation. The cast had amazing chemistry, the storylines were creative and comical, and the roster of guest stars was simply incredible. While the show came to an end after an impressive 10-season run, fans still watch rerun after rerun and laugh as heartily as they did the first (or second, or third…) time around.
From Jennifer Aniston to Matt LeBlanc and the other actors who filled out the main cast, the stars were worth every penny of their sky-high salaries. They endlessly entertained us, gave us a break from stress and everything serious, and even felt like family…or at least “friends.”
But the core cast wasn’t the only reason to love the sitcom. The guest stars chosen to play some memorable and hilarious parts were just as fantastic. And some of these guest stars are major A-listers who probably wouldn’t normally make a cameo on a TV show. But just like the rest of us, even the biggest superstars loved Friends.
Check out these A-listers who guest-starred on Friends. Chances are, you probably forgot they were even on the show. Must mean it’s time to catch up on some reruns!
20 A Role For Reese Witherspoon
The amazing Reese Witherspoon played Rachel’s other sister, Jill Green. She was also spoiled and selfish, even trying to date Ross, with whom Rachel was constantly in an on-off relationship. Seeing Witherspoon on set was fun, and her comedic timing was on the money. Witherspoon was in two episodes just like Applegate, but they didn’t act alongside one another. Perhaps all that A-list energy would be too much for fans to take! Again, like Applegate, the casting of Witherspoon in the role of Rachel’s sister was spot on, and we loved the interaction between the “sisters.”
19 The Gorgeous George Clooney
George Clooney is as good as it gets. When he guest-starred on Friends, he played a doctor like he did on the TV hit, E.R. Even his co-star Noah Wyle was on Friends right there alongside him! The two-parter episode with the charismatic Clooney was a classic. Monica and Rachel pretended to be one another so they could bluff an insurance company. Bad enough as that was, soon the ladies and the doctors were double dating and they had to keep the game going. It must have been a dream come true to have these two gorgeous guys on set, but the male cast mates must’ve been a wee bit jealous!
18 Why, That’s Winona Ryder!
The Friends episode with actress Winona Ryder was certainly a memorable one. Heck, we got to see her and Rachel kiss! She played a character named Melissa who went to college with Rachel. On a drunken night at school, the two supposedly kissed. Since Melissa claimed she couldn’t recall anything about the kiss, Rachel goes in for a second smooch to set the record straight. In the end, Ryder’s character comes clean and fesses up…she remembered it all but wanted another peck because she was smitten with her old pal Rachel. Then again, who wasn’t?
17 Morgan Fairchild as Mom
Actress Morgan Fairchild has been gracing the small screen with her sophistication for decades. She has that chic charm that bounces off the set and right into our living rooms. While not exactly the first person we’d think of to play Chandler’s mom, when she stepped into the memorable role of Nora Tyler Bing, it was the perfect casting choice. As awkward as Chandler was nearly all the time, seeing him with his elegant-looking mom made things all the sillier. Not to mention, Chandler’s dad was played by Kathleen Turner… but more on that later in this article.
16 Paul Rudd Rocked It
Paul Rudd was on a number of Friends episodes, each one better than the last. He played the cute boyfriend and then husband of Phoebe, and the pairing was spot-on perfect. Rudd’s funny personality and comedic charm worked wonderfully in his role as Mike Hannigan.
His chemistry with Lisa Kudrow was off the charts and they seemed like they could be a couple in real life. His adorable smile and sensitivity always makes for good TV, and Friends was lucky to have him for as long as they did.
He must love it when he flicks on the TV and one of his reruns is airing...we sure do!
15 Kathleen Turner Was Made For TV
Kathleen Turner played Chandler’s dad…yes, dad, on Friends. As a drag queen, Charles Bing went by the name of Helena Handbasket, and the casting could not have been better. It must have taken a lot of self-restraint for the rest of the cast not to break down in laughter every time Turner delivered her lines. She was hilarious, innovative and engaging. Turner probably never thought she’d play the role of “dad,” but by the way she nailed every scene, it seems like she was born to play the part. Funny and fierce, Turner was a TV guest star that we’ll never forget.
14 Brad Pitt Was Perfect
Remember when Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt were a thing? Well, we all know how that turned out, but at least we can watch Friends reruns and find Pitt playing the part of Will Colbert. Seeing Pitt in this comical role was a real treat, and his delivery and dedication to the part was impressive. Fans went wild seeing the (former) real-life lovebirds acting alongside one another, except in his role as Colbert, Pitt spills the beans that he used to be part of a high school club dedicated to hating Rachel Green. Funny as can be, Pitt was perfect as a Friends guest star.
13 Make Room For Michael Vartan
The handsome Michael Vartan played the role of Tim, the son of Richard Burke, who Monica dated. Things got weird when Tim and Monica gave dating a go too. But who wants to date the son of a man they formally dated? The idea was a bad one and so was the relationship. But at least we had the opportunity to see Vartan on Friends as he shared his talents (and good looks) with the show’s many fans. If only Monica hadn’t dated his dad…perhaps Vartan’s character would have stuck around for a bit longer.
12 Behold Ben Stiller!
Ben Stiller never fails to give acting his all, even in a guest spot. He played a weird guy who would scream at anyone who got in his way. He was only in one episode where he dated Rachel, but the way he stole every scene made it seem like far longer.
Stiller is a comedic heavyweight, so we knew he’d be a great fit for Friends. He always knows how to deliver a line that will make us laugh, as odd or uncomfortable as it may be.
Too bad they couldn’t write him in for a few more episodes.
11 Selma Blair Was Brilliant
Actress Selma Blair was one of the show’s standout guest stars in Season Nine. She played one of Chandler’s co-workers named Wendy. During Christmas, Chandler is unfortunately stuck working and Wendy decides to hang around too. She was super funny and fit in very well with the Friends family. Then again, what’s not to like about that gang? Fans who loved the beautiful Blair in Cruel Intentions and her other TV and film roles surely tuned into her Friends episode expecting nothing short of spectacular acting. And Blair delivered the goods just as she always does.
10 Julia Roberts Ran With It
Who could be more “A-list” than the impeccable Julia Roberts? She is gorgeous, talented, and down-to-earth, which makes her a real gem in Hollywood. Friends was lucky to have her guest star in Season Two where she dated Chandler.
But Chandler was fooled by his former classmate who was out to embarrass him in return for the way he used to treat her back in school.
She humiliated him by convincing him to wear her underwear in a restaurant. If you’ve seen the episode, the awkwardness was astounding. And Roberts was the funniest revenge-seeker we’ve seen in a long time.
9 The Comical Christina Applegate
Who doesn’t love the bubbly and beautiful Christina Applegate? When she was on Friends, fans of hers were so excited to tune in to see her play one of Rachel’s sisters. In the role of Amy Green, Applegate showed off her spoiled side and stole the show. She was featured on two episodes and even won an Emmy for her guest role, as Hollywood Reporter reminds us. Applegate and Aniston made for believable siblings, making the casting all the better. While we would have loved to see more of the star, two episodes gave us a nice taste of her talent.
8 Jeff Goldblum Was Great
Fans of Jeff Goldblum were thrilled to see him act on Season Nine of Friends. He played a director named Leonard Hayes and Joey auditioned for him. What fun it was to watch these two act alongside one another; the laughs were plentiful and we couldn’t get enough. Joey did well during his audition, but not for the reasons an actor would normally want to. Thanks to his need to go to the bathroom, Joey’s behaviour during the audition took a turn that Hayes thought was impressive. Leave it to Joey to do things the unconventional way!
7 Bruce Willis Was Wild
Bruce Willis was amazing when he appeared on Friends. Thanks to his mega-A-list status, the awesome actor was on three unforgettable episodes during Season Six. He dated Rachel, which would be OK, except for the fact that his on-screen daughter was dating Ross. Naturally, this dating dilemma lent itself to some funny moments that made the relationships too intertwined for anyone’s comfort. But as the audience, this dating dynamic was TV gold. Willis even won an Emmy for this guest spot, as IMDb reports. Watch the reruns of Season Six and relive the sheer silliness of the situation.
6 Alec Baldwin Booked The Gig
You may not recall that the talented Alec Baldwin was on Friends. He guest-starred in two episodes in the role of Parker, a friend of Phoebe.
In his usual over-the-top form, Baldwin’s character was overly dramatic, making a big deal about anything and everything. Naturally, Baldwin nailed the well-written part, proving his comedic chops are always A+.
While it was tons of fun to see Baldwin guest star on Friends, fans wished they could have seen him stick around for a few more spots. But he had to make room for all the other A-listers to come.
5 Fans Loved Freddie Prinze Jr.
Do you recall when Freddie Prinze Jr. was on Friends? He played the role of a “manny,” a male nanny. The character’s name was Sandy, and Prinze did an excellent job as the nanny to Emma, the baby of Rachel and Ross. Prinze fans were excited to see him guest star on their fave TV show. Ross being neurotic Ross, however, had a problem with him simply because he was male. But there's no doubt that gorgeous Prinze's role caused an uptick in the hiring of male nannies!
4 Susan Sarandon Sizzled
The amazing Susan Sarandon was a favourite on set as she nailed the role of soap-opera siren, Jessica Lockhart. She acted alongside Joey and they were too good to miss. As Joey’s dreams came true when he landed a role on Days of Our Lives, they suddenly come to a halt as Sarandon’s character gets killed off in the show. Who would have ever thought Sarandon would be a guest star on Friends, but with the long list of A-listers who’ve been on the show, why shouldn’t the longtime actress get her chance to shine too? And shine she did!
3 John Stamos Was Sensational
Fans have loved the hunky John Stamos for years, making his role on Friends an unforgettable one. He was put in an unusual situation when he was invited to Chandler’s place. What he didn’t realize was that he was in the running to be a potential sperm donor! Monica and Chandler asked Stamos’s character all sorts of TMI questions that he wasn’t prepared for, making the dinner invitation one he wished he had turned down. Naturally, we had a good laugh watching it all play out.
2 We Loved Leah Remini
Leah Remini is always energetic and entertaining, making her guest spot on Friends one fans just loved. She played a pregnant single mom-to-be, about to give birth with no one by her side to comfort or support her. Joey came to her rescue by sticking by her side since he was in the hospital awaiting the birth of Ben, Ross’s son. Always brass and full of sarcasm, Remini’s character was fun to watch, even though she was in labour. Paired up with the always adorable Joey, she was in a scene that was one of the show’s most touching.
1 Sean Penn Performed
Sean Penn had a knockout performance when he appeared on Friends. He played the role of Phoebe’s sister's fiancé, then he and Phoebe dated. Of course, this was awkward, but when is a Friends scene not?
A big A-list star like Penn doesn’t guest on just any old show, so knowing he was down to give his all on the hit comedy spoke volumes.
Season Eight was made even better by the addition of Penn, if only for a while. He may never do a sitcom again, but he’ll always have Friends under his belt.
References: Hollywood Reporter, IMDB