Friends was a global phenomenon for NBC, but its six co-stars were relative newcomers who had yet to become household names. Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry had never been on a hit show. Jennifer Aniston’s father John was more famous than she was for his role as Victor Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives. Courtney Cox’s most famous pre-Friends role was as “girl in the audience” who dances with Bruce Springsteen in his video for Dancing in the Dark. NBC viewers knew only Lisa Kudrow, who had a recurring role on the sitcom Mad About You. The six would become household names. But they weren’t alone. Many of the show’s guest-stars also became famous later on.
14. Ana Farris
True Friends fanatics will know the answer to the question “which actress played the woman who let Chandler and Monica adopt her children” in the Friends finale. Ana Farris had already appeared in hit movies like White Chicks and Scary Movie. Her biggest role happened almost a decade later when she landed the CBS sitcom Mom.
13. Mae Whitman
Mae Whitman was already a seasoned child actor by the time she played a girl scout on Friends. Her big screen debut came in 1994’s When a Man Loves a Woman, where she portrayed Meg Ryan’s Daughter. She also played the daughter of Bill Paxon in Independence Day, George Clooney in One Fine Day and Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats. She became a household name with her role on Parenthood and has remained with the Peacock network, starring in Good Girls.
12. Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning has been acting since she was a child. One of her first TV appearances was on the final season of Friends, where she played Mackenzie, a girl who gave Joey advice when he was sad about Monica and Chandler moving to the suburbs. She then became a movie star, acting in the Twilight saga, I Am Sam, and War of the Worlds. She also co-stars on the TV show The Alienist.
11. Willie Garson
Willie Garson is best known for playing Stanford Blatch on S** in the City for 27 episodes, which started the same year he appeared on Friends. In 1999, he appeared as the president of the tenant’s committee who holds a grudge against Ross after Ross refused to chip in $100 for a retiring handyman. Garson also co-starred on USA Network’s White Collar.
10. Ellen Pompeo
Before she became Meredith Grey on the unexpected and now very long running hit Grey’s Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo appeared on Friends as Chandler and Ross’ old crush in 2004 (“The One Where the Stripper Cries”. Pompeo guest starred on Friends, Law & Order, and Strangers With Candy before being cast in the movie Moonlight Mile, which brought her to the attention of ABC and Shonda Rhimes.
9. Steve Zahn
Steve Zahn’s memorable appearance on Friends in season two as Phoebe’s ex-husband who had married her because he was a Canadian ice-skater who needed a green card. Zahn became a reliable player in several comedies from the mid-1990’s such as That Thing You Do and You’ve Got Mail. Zahn later appeared on HBO’s Treme and ABC’s The Crossing.
8. Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson appears very briefly as a store clerk during Friends’ last season in 2004. He went on to co-star on The Office as Darryl Philbin and has also been on the big screen in movies Like Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine.
7. Dan Bucatinsky
Dan Bucatinsky may be most recognizable for his role as Cyrus Beane’s doomed husband on Scandal. One of his first roles was as a waiter who hated working at Phoebe’s birthday dinner on Friends. Bucatinsky became a real-life friend and business partner with Kudrow; the two own a production company, which is responsible for shows like Who Do You Think You Are, Web Therapy, and The Comeback.
6. Mark Conseulos
Mr. Kelly Ripa is still best known for his role on the soap opera All My Children. He did appear as a police officer on Friends in 2001. He’s the one who pulls Rachel over when she was speeding in Monica’s Porsche. Conseuelos has co-hosted Live! Alongside his wife, was a Florida Senator in the sitcom Alpha House and currently stars on CW’s Riverdale.
5. Cole Sprouse
Cole Sprouse is one of many child actors who played Ben, the son of Ross Gellar. Sprouse became a child star for his role as Cody Martin on the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and its spin-off The Suite Life on Deck. Sprouse is now a series regular as Jughead Jones on CW’s Riverdale.
4. Paget Brewster
In 1997, Paget Brewster was a guest star on Friends as the center of a love triangle between Joey and Chandler in “The One With Joey’s New Girlfriend.” Brewster then appeared in several shows, most notably as Special Agent Emily Prentiss on CBS’ Criminal Minds. She also has been a standout in comedy, appearing on Drunk History and Another Period and doing voiceover work for several animated series.
3. Leah Remini
Leah Remini is best known for her role as Carrie on CBS’ The King of Queens, but she has a long history with Friends. In 1994 she auditioned for the role of Monica, but it was given to Cox. In 1995 she appeared on the episode “The One with the Birth.” Remini went on to take down Scientology.
2. Emily Osment
Emily Osment was nine years old when she played a trick-or-treater on Friends. She then became popular with the tween set by co-starring on Hannah Montana. Now Osment has a recurring role on the sitcom Mom, does voiceover work for Family Guy and is appearing on new TV show Young and Hungry.
1. Iqbal Theba
Iqbal Theba became a recognizable face doing commercials and guest spots on series like Friends, where he played Joey’s doctor. But it was his role as Principal Figgins on Glee, where he appeared in 58 episodes that made him most recognizable.