Friends creators reveal iconic moment almost never happened

1998 The Cast in Year 4 of Friends
1998 The Cast in Year 4 of Friends /

The Friends opening credits scene is one of the most iconic moments from the series; however, it turns out the fountain scene we all know and love almost never happened!

Set to “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts, the opening scene finds Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, and Matthew Perry dancing in, on and around a now-iconic fountain. Toss in some props, colorful umbrellas and the signature orange couch which the group enjoyed many conversations upon in the Central Perk and you have a sequence that lives rent-free in the minds of Friends fans everywhere.

Perhaps that is what makes it so surprising to discover the opening credits sequence we all know and love almost never happened.

In a deleted clip from the Friends reunion posted to HBO Max, the show’s creative team spilled the beans on the origin story of the opening credits which apparently went through several stages before the magical fountain scene came together.

"“We tried a few different things with the title sequence,” producer Kevin S. Bright revealed in the deleted clip. “The first one was done at the pilot. We basically sat them at the coffee shop and shot a bunch of footage of them playing cards, but then it was said, ‘Meh, there’s not gonna be a title sequence. NBC doesn’t want one, don’t waste your time.’”"

After some back and forth with the network, the creative team sought out a location on the Warner Bros. lot where they could film a title sequence with little cost or travel required. This led them to the fountain on the lot which they felt could easily pass as being located in New York City.

"“We needed someplace where we didn’t have to travel too far, where we could just shoot it one night after a run-through. It couldn’t have a lot of production values,” cocreator David Crane explained."

Funny enough, not only was the location of the opening credits sequence not originally envisioned to be the fountain on the Warner Bros. lot but no official theme song had been recorded when it came time to film the scene! As a result, the cast simply dances to a random tune which is crazy given Aniston appears to be lip-syncing to “I’ll Be There for You” within the sequence.

"“We had not recorded the theme song yet. We played back something for them to dance to, it was something funky, I remember that,” Bright recalled. “The interesting thing is that it looks like in the title sequence that Jennifer [Aniston] is lip-syncing to ‘I’ll Be There for You.’ She’s lipsyncing to some other song we will never remember now.”"

How long did it take to film the Friends opening credits?

We’ve already established that Courteney Cox wasn’t a fan of the fountain scene and now that we know how long it took to actually film the opening credits, we have to confess we can’t blame her for her dislike of the moment!

When discussing the process of filming the opening in the deleted scene from the HBO Max special, co-creator Marta Kauffman revealed the sequence was filmed during a “very cold night.” Making matters even worse, the filming took place late in the evening and involved shooting for several hours.

“The fountain was cold, and they were so game and so great about throwing themselves in there,” Kauffman revealed noting the opening credits took “about four hours” to shoot and they were filming “until 2 o’clock in the morning.”

Stream Friends: The Reunion right now on HBO Max, and be sure to check out the many bonus clips HBO Max has dropped since the special first arrived!

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