Working on Friends wasn’t all fun and games for TV writer Patty Lin — but David Schwimmer’s on-set demeanor did ease her stress.
Lin — who was part of the Friends writing team during season 7 — recalled Schwimmer’s kind gesture in her new memoir, End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood.
“I escaped from the dreaded huddle and stepped onto the set, joining the rowdy mob packed into the hallway,” Lin penned of the time she was an extra during season 7’s “The One With All the Candy,” which aired in 2000. “David Schwimmer, who was directing the episode, came over to give instructions.”
Lin vividly remembered Schwimmer — who played Ross Geller — telling her, “Patty, can you scooch closer to the door?” She wrote, “I scooched, thrilled that instead of saying, ‘Hey, you,’ Schwimmer addressed me by name.”
Despite knowing the actors from table reads and shooting schedules, she explained that it was Schwimmer’s kindness that made her finally feel seen.
“Really, it takes so little for a celebrity to seem like a decent person,” she wrote. “That night was the high point of my Friends experience. For once, I felt like I had something to do with the show.”
Shortly before Lin stepped in as an extra on the episode, she got the stamp of approval for one of her jokes. Lin told readers that the Friends joke huddle was “by far the most stressful part of the job,” especially because she was a drama writer by trade.
However, while taping “The One With the Candy,” a Christmas episode in which Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) put out holiday treats for the whole building, Lin won over Friends cocreator Marta Kauffman with her one-liner.
When Chandler asks Monica why she made candy for the whole apartment, she says, “We can learn their names and get to know our neighbors.” When Chandler’s initial response “did not garner the side splitting laughter required,” according to Lin, she pitched he say, “Wouldn’t it be easier if we just moved?”
Lin described Kauffman’s response as letting out a “full-throated laugh, which in that moment was the most wonderful sound [she’d] ever heard.”
While Lin enjoyed working under Schwimmer’s direction — and getting a good joke into the episode — she noted that most of the time the actors’ input was not helpful.
“They rarely had anything positive to say, and when they brought up problems, they didn’t suggest feasible solutions,” she claimed of the lead stars’ complaints about the scripts from day to day. “Seeing themselves as the characters, they often argued that they would never do or say such-and-such. … The cast behaved as if they weren’t just Big Stars but also Serious Actors — even though Friends was never going to be Citizen Kane.”
Friends — which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004 — starred Schwimmer, 56, Cox, 59, Perry, 54, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc. Lin, for her part, worked on the show for just one season but later wrote for Desperate Housewives and Breaking Bad before retiring from TV writing in 2008.
End Credits: How I Broke Up With Hollywood is on bookshelves now — and available to purchase here.