Tom Hanks Almost Guest-Starred on Friends
The role ended up going to another sweetheart.
Now that there's news of a possible reunion on the horizon, everyone's taking a look back at Friends, including superstars that managed to snag a guest role on the beloved series. According to Entertainment Weekly, Freddie Prinze Jr., who played a manny in one episode, almost missed his chance to be on the show, because the role was originally meant for another one of America's most beloved actors: Tom Hanks.
The episode, which is called "The One With the Male Nanny," features Prinze playing a male nanny that Ross and Rachel enlist to watch baby Emma. Ross is concerned that the manny for hire, Sandy, is too sensitive and ends up dismissing him. Though he was only on the show for a single episode, Prinze does have fond memories of it, but it could have more to do with how he snagged the role from Hanks than the actual time he spent on set.
Prinze explained that he didn't have any time to prep for the role because it was offered to him so suddenly. Hanks had a scheduling conflict that kept him from taking the role, so Prinze had to fill in. He was happy to do it.
"I wasn't even supposed to be [Sandy], that was originally offered to Tom Hanks but he wasn’t gonna make it back from his film on time," Prinze told EW. "And so my agent called me and said, 'Do you want to be on Friends? And I said, 'Yeah, I'll do an episode of Friends. That'll be great.' He said, 'Yeah, it shoots tomorrow.' and I was like, 'What?' He said, 'Yes, tomorrow, so I'll send you the script.'"
One cast member that went out of his way to make Prinze feel welcome was David Schwimmer, who said that the in-studio audience's energy was part of what made the set such a great place.
"So I went in and I was totally nervous because it was on the day of shooting. I didn't even get to do a read-through," he added. "And David Schwimmer walked into my dressing room and he was so cool and so passionate and he had so much energy. He came into the room and was like, 'You're going to love this, man. It's like a little two-act play and the crowd is so engaged, and so into it. You'll have a ton of fun, don't worry about a thing.'"
Not only did Prinze have to learn all his lines in less than a day, he had to learn how to play the recorder, too. Again, it was Schwimmer to the rescue. No, he's not a recorder aficionado, he's just an all-around awesome cheerleader.
"I had just learned for the last like four hours of my day there how to play 'Greensleeves' on the recorder because I'd never played it before. And [Schwimmer] was like, 'I heard you practicing, man. You're going to crush the song,'" Prinze said. "I told him he shouldn't have said that because it's bad luck. But he was like, 'No! You’re going to crush it.'"
Part of why Prinze took the role was that he was a huge fan of the show, telling EW that like everyone else, he tuned in every week. That passion, plus the unwavering support of Ross Geller, was enough to earn him a spot in every Friends fan's heart.