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'Friends' cast's acting successes, flops since beloved NYC-set sitcom

No matter how much you love “Friends,” at some point, you’ll have to wake up and smell the Central Perk coffee: Much of the cast didn’t fare well in the television acting realm after leaving the Manhattan-set sitcom.

Friday marked 23 years since the iconically NYC series premiered on NBC. It’s been praised long after its 2004 series finale by fans eager to encourage a reboot, though Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston have made it well-known that’s not on the near horizon.

For most of the crew, “Friends” remains the “glory days” of their careers, whether they’re willing to revisit it or not.

We’re looking back at what the actors have been up to post-“Friends,” combing through their roles that flopped, Emmy nominations and all.

Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green)

Photo Credit: NBC; Getty Images / Alberto E. Rodriguez

The "Friends" actors became household names after their sitcom stretch, but that holds particularly true for Jennifer Aniston. After putting the series behind her, Aniston continued a successful career in the business, with an emphasis on movies rather than television. "Rumor Has It" (2005), "Horrible Bosses" (2011), "We're the Millers" (2013) and "Cake" (2014) were some of her most memorable. If you're judging by TV series though, Aniston falls short. She had a few guest spots ("30 Rock," "Cougar Town"), but didn't hold a role as successful as that of Rachel Green. There's still hope, though: The actress is teaming up with Reese Witherspoon to work on an untitled TV project about New York City morning shows. Sounds promising.

David Schwimmer (Ross Geller)

We're giving this one to Emmy-nominated actor David
Photo Credit: NBC; Getty Images / Gustavo Caballero

We're giving this one to Emmy-nominated actor David Schwimmer primarily because of his 2016 role of Robert Kardashian in "The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story." Schwimmer was dubbed the show's "conscience" by GQ and one of the "biggest surprises" in the FX true-crime drama by critics. Schwimmer, who told the New York Times he "needed some distance from 'Frieinds'" shifted to a role behind the camera immediately after the series ended. He directed a few episodes of "Joey," "Little Britain USA" and two films, "Run, Fatboy, Run" in 2007 and "Trust" in 2010. He had a number of mediocre guest spots, on Matt LeBlanc's "Episodes" and Lisa Kudrow's "Web Therapy."

Courteney Cox (Monica Geller)

When your 2011 guest role on
Photo Credit: NBC; Getty Images / Frazer Harrison

When your 2011 guest role on "Private Practice" is "woman," it's probably a sign things aren't going as great as planned. Cox tried her hand at a post-"Friends" series titled "Dirt," which was canceled in 2007 after its second-season premiere total took a 54 percent dip, according to Nielsen data. Then there's, of course, "Cougar Town," which was moved from ABC to TBS in 2013 and canceled two years later. Calling Cox's role a "painful belly flop," critics were torn between remembering her as a talented actress on "Friends" and the lead in a series "on the cusp of cancellation." Still, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role, so it's not all bad.

Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani)

Matt LeBlac knows how much you loved him
Photo Credit: NBC; Getty Images / Alberto E. Rodriguez

Matt LeBlac knows how much you loved him as Joey. Really, he gets it. He tried to reprise the role in the 2004 spin-off "Joey," which was dropped after two seasons. After that, his acting roles were few and far between. He returned to TV in 2011 in Showtime's "Episodes," which lasted five seasons before unsurprisingly getting the boot. Last fall the Golden Globe-winning actor made his comeback (if you want to call it that) with "Man with a Plan." Newsday critic Verne Gay called it his "uninspired return," writing that you shouldn't "fight the urge to fondly recall the LeBlanc glory days" while watching the "generic sitcom." In August, LeBlanc told Conan O'Brien he's ready to retire from acting. What would Joey Tribbiani say?!

Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay)

Lisa Kudrow has had some recent movie appearances,
Photo Credit: NBC; Getty Images / Frederick M. Brown

Lisa Kudrow has had some recent movie appearances, like in "Girl on the Train," (2016), "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" (2016), "Boss Baby" (2017) and "Table 19" (2017) but to call them memorable would be a stretch. As far as TV goes, the actress' HBO comedy "The Comeback," initially reminding Entertainment Weekly of "something you'd see on Lifetime," picked up a bit in its mid-seasons before ending in 2014; "Web Therapy" got cut one year later, but not before winning Webby awards. Whether or not she'll ever be known best for a role other other than Phoebe Buffay is yet to be determined.

Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing)

Matthew Perry's acting resume is filled with short-lived
Photo Credit: NBC; Getty Images / Theo Wargo

Matthew Perry's acting resume is filled with short-lived TV series ("Mr. Sunshine," "Go On") and guest-roles ("Scrubs," "The Good Wife"), but one of those stints, 2003's "The West Wing," got him an outstanding guest actor Emmy nom. His most recent attempt at a successful TV role in "The Odd Couple," fell flat. CBS canceled the series after three seasons in May, citing an average 1.0 rating and 5 million total viewers.


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