Olivia Williams recalls “harrowing” experience on ‘Friends’
(Credits: Warner Brothers Television)


Olivia Williams recalls "harrowing" experience on 'Friends'

Whether it be Wes Anderson’s Rushmore or M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, Olivia Williams has starred in many notable titles. A true dramatist in the sense that she cut her teeth in the Royal Shakespeare Company before making the jump to screen, by this point in her career, she has little to prove.

Despite her many successes, though, the London-born actor has had her fair share of negative experiences in the industry, with one of the most “harrowing”, coming from a surprising project: the hit sitcom Friends. While her time was fleeting on the show about the group of New York dwellers, she has revealed that she didn’t necessarily have a fun time as many would have first thought.

The 55-year-old played Felicity, appearing in two episodes as the friend and bridesmaid of Helen Baxendale’s Emily, who marries Ross. Felicity is best remembered for having a brief fling with Joey. 

Her first appearance was in the season four finale, where the gang of friends travel to London to attend Ross and Emily’s wedding, ‘The One With Ross’ Wedding, Part 2′. Famously, the wedding goes awry when Ross accidentally says Rachel’s name at the altar, marking the beginning of the end of the relationship.

Her second and final appearance was in the show’s fifth season premiere, which first aired in September 1998, ‘The One After Ross Says Rachel’. A continuation of what occurred in the previous season’s finale, it follows the fallout of Ross mistakenly saying Rachel’s name. Memorably, Emily elbows her new husband in the stomach after the wedding ends.

In a new interview with The IndependentWilliams has reflected on her time on Friends, looking back on what she had previously characterised as a “harrowing” time. 

To outline her point, Williams recalled the treatment of a “distinguished” older female actor – whose name she couldn’t remember – who came under immense fire from a nameless producer. “Well, just as an example, I was taken to the studio in a shared car with a wonderful actress whose character, I think, was called ‘Old Woman’,” she said. “At one point, a producer – who shall remain nameless – just yelled at her: ‘You’re not funny!’ And she didn’t come back the next day. So that was alarming.”

Williams added: “Friends was a brand, and you had to fit the brand. You go into hair and make-up and you’re told, ‘There’s a look here, this is what we do.’ And that involved, essentially, plucking off all of your eyebrows.” She politely implored the make-up department not to take her eyebrows off, which she might have needed for another role, laughing: “But yes, that’s the sense in which it was harrowing.”

Williams then jokingly commented that she might have had many more job offers if she were to have been quiet about her experiences, and is likely on a blacklist for socialist actors.

Williams recently played Camilla Parker-Bowles in the final two seasons of The Crown and is due to play Tula Harkonnen in the upcoming Max spin-off, Dune: Prophecy, which examines the origins of the Bene Gesserit sect.