One of the directors of the wildly popular American sitcom Friends has revealed which of the show’s many stars was the hardest to work with. James Burrows has opened up on some of the problems he faced on set.
He’s given details in his new memoir, Directed by James Burrows. Interestingly, the star Burrows seems to have had a problem with is none of the six main actors in the series, which include Jennifer Aniston and Matt Le Blanc.
Rather, it’s the English actor Helen Baxendale, who played the wife of David Schwimmer’s Ross Geller, Emily. The problem Burrows had is that he found Baxendale to be not “particularly funny”.
Discussing the episode ‘The One with All the Rugby’, Burrows noted, “She was nice but not particularly funny. [David] Schwimmer had no one to bounce off. It was like clapping with one hand.”
“In sitcoms and any type of romantic comedy, the funny is just as important as the chemistry,” the director continued. “We discovered that any new girlfriend for Ross needed to be as funny as Rachel.”
Burrows went on to explain how it’s difficult to find a new actor for a character after production begins, adding, “Often, you can’t recast, because of tight shooting deadlines or other logistical considerations. You don’t cast anyone to be a straw man, unless it’s for one episode.”
“Sometimes you start an arc and it ain’t working out, so you have to get rid of that person. If it’s a day player, it’s a quick goodbye,” he said. “The reverse is also true. If there’s chemistry, the writers go to work to figure out some way of keeping the actor.”