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As Friends hits 25 years on Sept. 22, the milestone anniversary is bringing out all kinds of revelations about the iconic sitcom. From reflections on its legacy to untold stories from the set, the past month has unlocked a treasure trove of goods for Friends superfans. But Debra Jo Rupp of That '70s Show fame has maybe the most unique experience possible out of anyone who ever guest-starred on the long-running series.
Rupp played a brief-but-memorable arc in six episodes on Friends as Alice Knight-Buffay, the girlfriend-turned-wife of Phoebe's (Lisa Kudrow) half-brother Frank (Giovanni Ribisi) — but their origin story is, well… unconventional to say the least. They met when she was Frank's high school Home Ec teacher, which made Alice's reappearance in Frank's adult life all the more awkward for Phoebe when the new couple just wouldn't stop making out in front of her.
"The first episode we did, all we did was make out," Rupp deadpanned to EW before breaking out in her signature laugh, joking that "Giovanni was 12 and I was 85." The age gap between Alice and Frank was a long-running joke on the show, and it's one that definitely hit close to home for Rupp during filming. "I was horrified. I was absolutely horrified," she says with another laugh. "Every time we got a rewrite in the script, there would be more making out! I would just go, 'Oh my god. Oh my god! I just gotta close my eyes and do it. What else am I gonna do?'"
Friends (screen grab) Giovanni Ribisi and Debra Jo Rupp CR: NBC
Despite how uncomfortable she was with those first few scenes, Rupp looks back at her time filming with fondness because of how Ribisi helped calm her nerves. "He was such a sweet guy. We'd get on set and rehearse and I just looked at him like, 'I don't know … ' and Giovanni went, 'Well, we're just gonna go for it.' Boom, and he's on me!" she says, laughing again. "And then, because I am a little bit of a comedy whore — I will do anything for a laugh — once I realized that it was really funny, I was fine. I'm so fine with this."
Rupp knew that with a bit like Alice and Frank's constant PDA, "you just have to go for it" to make it work. "It was just so weird doing '70s Show and then knowing I'm going back to kiss this 12-year-old," she says. "Kitty Forman, making out with the child!"
But like many story lines that were played for laughs during the days of Friends, the actress isn't sure Alice and Frank's "love story" has aged well. Rupp doesn't remember if she was aware of the infamous Mary Kay Letourneau scandal — she was the teacher who went to prison after having an affair, which resulted in a child, with her sixth-grade student in 1997 — before or during her time on Friends."When I look at it now, I think it's just so weird that I never once thought about a teacher and a kid," she says. "Not once. Thank god, because I don't know if I would have done it [if I knew]!"
It's an instance of weird, coincidental timing, Letourneau was arrested March 4, 1997, and the episode with Alice's first appearance, "The One With the Hypnosis Tape," airedMarch 13, 1997. Rupp filmed that episode months before Letourneau became headline news, but it aired only a week after her arrest.Rupp does remember that the Friends producers had a hard time casting the role of Alice even before the scandal rocked the nation. "They needed somebody who could make it believable," she says. "Apparently I had no problem with it whatsoever and made it entirely believable."
But aside from Ribisi and Kudrow, Rupp didn't get to know many of the other Friends stars during her time on the show. "There was no socializing. There was no chit-chat there," she says. "They weren't like mean or dismissive or condescending at all. I also remember I was shooting when Matthew [Perry] was having his problems [with alcohol and drug abuse], but I did not know it at the time. That might have colored things a little bit. I don't know how it could not. [But] they were very professional."
She does, however, have a vivid memory of being jealous of Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox's clothes when she saw what Alice's costumes looked like. "I remember going to wardrobe and being in this room or trailer with all of these very beautiful clothes for Jennifer and Courteney, and then at the end of the row would be my clothes which were taken out of storage room, 20 years old, who knows how many people had worn them," she says with another laugh. "Because that was my character! It was completely appropriate."
FRIENDS -- "The One with the Embryos" Episode 12 -- Pictured: (l-r) Debra Jo Rupp as Alice Knight Buffay, Giovanni Ribisi as Frank Buffay Jr., Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Cindy Katz as Dr. Zane (Photo by J. Delvalle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Debra Jo Rupp, Giovanni Ribisi, Lisa Kudrow, and Cindy Katz in 'Friends' season 4, episode 12, 'The One With the Embryos'
| Credit: J. Delvalle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
And what was intended to be only a one-episode appearance turned out to be so much more after Kudrow's real-life pregnancy needed to be written into the show. "They had to figure out what to do and they came up with this storyline with me and Giovanni," Rupp explains. Alice and Frank return to the show to ask a huge favor of Phoebe; because of their age difference, Alice is unable to get pregnant. Phoebe agrees to be their surrogate and ends up giving birth to triplets. As if one episode wasn't a big thrill for Rupp, who was a "big fan" of Friends for years before she auditioned for the role of Alice, coming back for more was a dream-come-true.
"I knew the show. I loved the show. I thought it was really funny," Rupp says. "This was in the '90s and I was probably on most every sitcom except for Murphy Brown that was on the air at the time — Murphy Brown, I auditioned like nine times and didn't get it and finally said that I'm not going in anymore because they hate me!"
And when her one Friends appearance turned into a six-episode arc, Rupp was overjoyed. "It helped save my home because I was going through a really bad dry spell," she remembers. "One of the great things about being an actor is that it can turn around overnight and it can turn around either way. So the money was helpful and the visibility helped because right after that, I got three pilots, so it was like boom, boom, boom, and one of them was That '70s Show."
Rupp would go on to star as the matriarch of that iconic Fox sitcom for eight seasons, hitting an incredible 200 episodes. And while she's not sure if Friends is the reason why she landed that career-defining role, she knows "it didn't hurt." And she also owes a huge personal debt of gratitude to her Friends scene-partner Kudrow.
"Around this time, my mother was diagnosed with a very fast-moving Parkinson's," Rupp says. "She was living in Florida and it got to the point where I had move her in to stay with me. Lisa Kudrow's brother is a neurologist in Santa Monica and she facilitated getting me into his office with my mom. Basically, they kept my mom alive. It was just pretty amazing. Lisa did it because Lisa is just who Lisa is — just a kind person."
THAT '70s SHOW, ('I Can't Quit You Baby',Season 5, 2002-03), Kurtwood Smith, Debra Jo Rupp, 1998-2006. TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection
Credit: Everett Collection
And now that Friends is celebrating its 25th anniversary — "I had a heart attack when I read that. Oh my god. Why am I not dead yet?" Rupp says with a laugh — she's finally ready to air what she considers to be an embarrassing secret. "This was very exciting for me, it's so shallow, but they had the 100th episode and I was in that," Rupp says of her final appearance on the show. "They had this big, huge party and I got Brad Pitt's autograph. Like an idiot. An idiot! I was like the geekiest, stupidest fan."
With her work on Friends, That '70s Show, and even a memorable appearance onSeinfeld, Rupp hit the comedy trifecta back in the '90s and early '00s. She's getting back into TV with an upcoming comedy pilot (reuniting her with her '70s Show onscreen husband Kurtwood Smith), as well as a short arc on Grey's Anatomythis season, and while she's had many career-defining roles, she's accepted that there's one thing that she'll always be known for.
"I don't get recognized, it's my voice that gets recognized," she says wryly. "If I'm standing in a line at a grocery store, if I talk, I see people turn around and look. It's probably a combination of Seinfeld and Friends and '70s Show, and they all came kind of in a row — I was on a bit of a roll — so people just know me from my voice, which I think is a totally normal voice but apparently it's not. That laugh is just freaking obnoxious and I got stuck with it."
She pauses, then adds seriously, "I'm very careful now with how I laugh." It's hard to take her statement in earnest, though, as she immediately bursts into her infectious cackle again.
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Why Debra Jo Rupp was 'horrified' during her first 'Friends' episode — and how it changed her life? ›
"Friends" The One with the Embryos (TV Episode 1998) - Debra Jo Rupp as Alice Knight Buffay - IMDb.When was Debra Jo Rupp on Friends? ›
"Friends" The One with the Embryos (TV Episode 1998) - Debra Jo Rupp as Alice Knight Buffay - IMDb.Was Debra Jo Rupp in Friends before that 70s show? ›
Debra Jo Rupp (born February 24, 1951) is an American actress. She is known for her roles as Kitty Forman on the sitcom That '70s Show and its sequel series That '90s Show, and Alice Knight-Buffay on the third through fifth seasons of Friends.What was the age difference between Frank and Alice in Friends? ›
In the show Alice is 26 years older than Frank, and the relationship was made more shocking by their frequent public displays of affection. Phoebe soon came round to the idea, but it seems it took the Alice star a little while longer.How old is Debra Rupp? › Who was the youngest friend in the show? ›
Rachel is the youngest of Friends six main characters. She was brought up in Long Island, New York.Who was the oldest in the group Friends? ›
Lisa Kudrow is the oldest of the main Friends cast. Born on 30 July 1963, she was 31 when the show began and is now 57.Was Friends ever improvised? ›
You might remember Richard Branson as the guy Joey purchases a hat from. Well, Branson reportedly struggled to get his lines right, possibly from not having properly memorized them. So as the story goes, the writers apparently ditched the script and Branson, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry improvised.How old was everyone in the first episode of That 70s Show? ›
As for her cast-mates, Laura Prepon and Wilder Valderama began the series when they were 18, while Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace were both 20. Danny Masterson was the oldest at around 22.Who is the oldest on the sitcom Friends? ›
Lisa Kudrow — who was born on July 30, 1963 — was 31 years old when she made her debut as Phoebe Buffay in "Friends" in 1994, which makes her the eldest of her castmates.
[Spoiler Warning] At a dinner party, Frank claims that he and Alice slept together. It's the only indication of such an encounter during the film, and everyone—including Alice—seems shocked at the accusation. But she also doesn't deny it.Did Alice and Frank get together? ›
As Alice admires a patch of sunflowers, Frank shakely removes a tiny box from his pocket. Alice bursts into tears of happiness as she turns to find him on one knee. A year later they are married and pregnant with their first and only child, Neville.
As for ages, Monica and Ross are one year apart, Joey is just nine months younger than his older sister, and Phoebe is one minute younger.Does Kitty get pregnant on That 70s Show? ›
In Season 5, Kitty told Red that she was pregnant, only to go to the doctor who told her the reason why her periods had stopped was because she was beginning menopause. To help his wife through menopausal mood swings, Red got Kitty a wiener dog she named Schatzi (German for Little Treasure).How old is Kitty Forman in real life? ›
Debra Jo Rupp reprises her That '70s Show as Kitty Forman, only this time, she's a grandmother rather than a doting mother. Rupp was born on Feb. 24, 1951, making the actress 71 years old as of January 2023.Who marries Frank in Friends? ›
Jr. Alice Knight is the wife of Frank Buffay Jr, the half-brother of Phoebe and Ursula Buffay. Alice was Frank's former home economics high school teacher.
His relationship with Joey also basically invented the word 'bromance' so it makes sense that Chandler is the most popular character of all time.
One of them was the pregnancy of Rachel Green. The viewers find out about Rachel's pregnancy in the season 8 premiere, but the identity of the father is not revealed until later. At the time, the actress Jennifer Aniston herself wasn't pregnant.Why did Friends end? ›
Largely because the Friends cast was growing up
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman told Entertainment Weekly, "Everybody was growing up. This is part of why the show had to end. This was no longer that time in your life when your friends are your family. You're starting your own family."
A request that this article title be changed to Friends (TV series) is under discussion. Please do not move this article until the discussion is closed. Friends is an American television sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, lasting ten seasons.
A chef known for her cleanliness, competitiveness and obsessive-compulsive nature, Monica is the younger sister of Ross Geller and best friend of Rachel Green, the latter of whom she invites to live with her after Rachel forsakes her own wedding.Who is older Monica or Ross Geller? ›
Ross is the older brother of Monica. He was college roommates with Chandler and they have been close friends ever since. He was previously married to Carol and has one child with her named Ben. He later ends up with Rachel Green.Did the Friends cast take anything from the set? ›
Matthew Perry nabbed a cookie jar with a clock face on it to later give to Kudrow as a present, "because she at one point looked at it and thought it was a real clock." In a similar spirit, Matt LeBlanc took an "I Love Friends" license plate frame that he subsequently put on David Schwimmer's car.Did any of the Friends cast like each other? ›
The Groups Shares A Special Bond
The same could be said for the cast. Matt has once said that he considers his co-workers a family. Even though they don't all get together on a regular basis, they still care for one another, as siblings would.
She said "Living Single" originated what “Friends” is credited for pioneering. “We knew we had already been doing that,” she said, referring to a conversation in which former NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield responded to a question asking which show he wished he'd picked up in 1993.Who was the youngest on That 70s Show? ›
Mila Kunis was born on Aug. 14, 1983, making her the youngest member of the That '70s Show cast. The actress will turn 40 in 2023.When did That 70s Show stop being good? ›
Season 5 is considered to many the last good season of the show.
The settings may look like historic landmarks and famous cities when, really, the show is actually filmed in a Los Angeles lot. They call what they do in Hollywood "movie magic" for a reason.What annoys Monica the most in Friends? ›
Her occasional eye-rolls, uncomfortable decibels, and bullying Ross with his secrets were easily some of her most annoying qualities. Needless to say, she was more than capable of getting on everyone else's nerves -- including ours.Where was Friends filmed? ›
Although filming for Friends stopped almost 20 years ago, many of the New York filming locations remain unchanged. Friends was primarily filmed inside a studio in Los Angeles, but all the outside shots in the city are real places you can visit.
In the pilot episode, Ross is going through his first divorce. His marriage to Carol Willick – which lasted around four years – ends when she comes out as a lesbian and starts a new life with Susan.Why does Frank sleep with Karen? ›
Season 1: Frank Sleeps With Karen
In season one, Frank made the choice to sleep with his girlfriend's daughter, Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins), who also happened to be dating his son Lip at the time. Frank was hopped up on pain pills, so that was his excuse — but she was the 16-year-old daughter of his girlfriend.
It's not actually the 1950s, and Victory isn't real. Jack and Alice aren't actually married, and their real-life relationship is seemingly fractured due to Jack's unemployment and Alice working overtime as a nurse.Does lip know Frank died? ›
Frank spends his final moments alone, remembering his family in flashbacks from the show's earliest episodes. Sadly, the rest of the Gallagher clan never learn he is dying thanks to his ridiculously large hospital file, although Lip crosses paths with the ambulance without knowing it.Why did Jack put Alice in the simulation? ›
While it is not explicitly shown, it is heavily implied that Jack, feeling totally alienated by Alice and wanting to maintain control over her, kidnaps her and holds her against her will so that they can both enter the simulation and live a happier life.Who does Frank end up with? ›
At the start of season six Frank is focused on finding Laurel and makes it his top priority, after eventually giving up he finds himself in a relationship with Bonnie Winterbottom who he stays with till death repeatedly saying he loves her.Why did Shelley stab Frank? ›
And surprisingly, Shelley stabs Frank, saying it's her 'turn', who possibly worked on the Victory Project with him, symbolizing a feminine takeover in leadership. She probably feels that she doesn't want to be a passive onlooker during this long-standing, manipulative form of control.Why didn t Joey marry Phoebe? ›
In an interview with Metro, David Crane shone some light on the matter. “It all would have been too tidy and too complete,” Crane explained. “When your goal is to keep the six characters' stories together, it would be really easy to go down that road but I think we all felt it would be a mistake.”Was Joey in love with Phoebe? ›
However, Phoebe and Joey never got romantically involved, as Phoebe found love in Mike (Paul Rudd), while Joey is, well, just Joey. Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Crane has explained why the pair were never meant to be. "It all would have been too tidy and too complete," Crane admitted.Did Phoebe ever sleep with Joey? ›
Friends writer reveals Phoebe and Joey never hooked up because 'it would have been too perfect' FRIENDS writer David Crane has revealed why Phoebe and Joey never hooked up as he reflected on the cast's "challenging" relationships.
His first serious love interest of the series was a proto-punk girl, Christie, with whom he lost his virginity. She wanted him to move to New York City with her to start a rebellion against the government. He ultimately decided to stay in Point Place, and she left for New York. The relationship lasted only one episode.What happened to Kitty's baby? ›
Before this wedding happens, however, Kitty discovers at her first sonogram that she has miscarried. She is devastated and Robert feels not only sad but guilty feeling like he was responsible because he hadn't been happy about it from the beginning.Who paid for Donna's engagement ring? ›
Eric has to pay for Donna's engagement ring with Red taking all his money from him on purpose, and Fez meets someone he knows and hates.Who is Red and Kitty's daughter? ›
Children. Red and Kitty have two children, Laurie Forman and Eric Forman and take in Steven Hyde as one of their own.What did Eric try to do to Donna? ›
Eric tries to hold on by giving her a promise ring and Donna returns it to him saying she can't make those kinds of promises, which breaks Eric's heart and he ends their relationship, breaking Donna's heart.How old were Eric and Donna when they had Leia? ›
“It's a tough age … 38.” Eric being 38 years old in 1995 means he was born in 1957, which would make him 19 in 1976, when That '70s Show begins. This fits pretty well with Leia's age — she was born around 1980, which would have been when Eric and Donna were about 23.Was Ursula invited to Phoebe's wedding? ›
Interestingly, Phoebe's wedding is not attended by any of her relatives, such as her twin sister Ursula, her father Frank (Bob Balaban), biological mother Phoebe Sr. (Teri Garr), brother Frank Jr. (Giovanni Ribisi), sister-in-law Alice (Debra Jo Rupp), or the nieces and nephew she gave birth to.Why wasn't Ursula at Phoebe's wedding? ›
Phoebe's entire family was absent at her wedding including her mother Phoebe Abbott, half-brother Frank Jr., Alice and the triplets (possibly because of the blizzard). Her father Frank Buffay Sr. and sister Ursula are absent, likely because Phoebe wouldn't have invited them.Why weren't Phoebe's parents at her wedding? ›
While Friends doesn't explain the absence of Phoebe's family, it's implied that they weren't able to make it due to the blizzard in the city.Which episode of Friends was Jennifer Grant in? ›
"Friends" The One with Two Parts: Part 1 (TV Episode 1995) - Jennifer Grant as Nina - IMDb.
Grey starred in one episode, entitled 'The One With The Evil Orthodontist' and has now opened up about why she was replaced by another actress in later episodes of Friends. "When I did it, I had such bad anxiety because they kept changing the script," she said in an interview with MediaVillage.What season of Friends is Jennifer Coolidge in? ›
While she only made an appearance on a single episode, Jennifer Coolidge left her mark on the franchise as one of the most memorable guest stars. Watch her as Amanda Buffamonteezi, Phoebe and Monica's “British” former roommate in S10, Episode 3 “The One With Ross's Tan”.What year did Reese Witherspoon go on Friends? ›
'" The Your Place or Mine actress starred in two episodes of Friends season six in 2000 as Rachel's newly cut-off youngest sister. Their middle sister Amy was played by Christina Applegate, who also got two episodes during seasons nine and ten.How old was Jennifer Aniston in the first episode of Friends? ›
Jennifer Aniston — who was born on Feb. 11, 1969 — was 25 years old when the "Friends" pilot aired in 1994. Her role as Rachel Green pushed her career to new heights, and she quickly started making appearances in films as well.How old was Jennifer in season 1 Friends? ›
The Friends cast ages were relatively close to that of their characters when the sitcom began. For example, Rachel Green was supposed to be 24 when the show started in 1994, and since Jennifer Aniston was born in 1969, she was 25 when the series began.Is Jennifer Grey in Friends? ›
The Dirty Dancing star played Rachel's old BFF Mindy in the first season of the hit sitcom. Jennifer Grey has admitted she made the decision not to return to Friends after her first guest appearance, as she found filming to be such an anxiety-inducing experience.Was Jennifer pregnant in Friends? ›
No, Jennifer Aniston was not actually pregnant during the Friends series. Jennifer Aniston played the iconic role of Rachel Green for ten seasons of Friends. Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, Friends ran on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6. 2004.Why was Jennifer GREY replaced on Friends? ›
Grey said her “performance anxiety” saw her decline the chance to return as Mindy the following year. Around the same time, she also turned down the chance to host Saturday Night Live. “It makes me sad that I would say no to continuing on Friends or doing Saturday Night Live because of my anxiety.Why did Jennifer Gray not return to Friends? ›
In a new interview, the Dirty Dancing star says her 1995 appearance on the NBC sitcom was her last due to the intense pressure she felt filming the episode. "I was a fan of the show, and I got the call to do it," she told MediaVillage. "Then when I did it, I had such bad anxiety because they kept changing the script.Was Brad Pitt in an episode of Friends? ›
Definitely one of the top 5 Friends episodes. Brad Pitt is easily the best Guest star in Friends.
"Friends" The One with Rachel's Big Kiss (TV Episode 2001) - Winona Ryder as Melissa Warburton - IMDb.Did Winona Ryder play in an episode of Friends? ›
Winona Ryder played the character of Melissa Warburton, Rachel's sorority sister from college, who shared a kiss with her on a drunk party night.Who is Reese Witherspoon's best friend? ›
It's no secret that Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston are besties in real life (not always on screen).What year did they stop filming Friends? ›
Friends is an American television sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, lasting ten seasons.Why did Reese Witherspoon leave Friends? ›
From an old Buzzfeed "20 Things You Didn't Know About Friends" list, “Reese Witherspoon was signed up for around six episodes, but apparently Jennifer Aniston disliked her and asked the producers to fire her." Is that really what went down?