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You would have had to be hiding out in a cave (or some other totally unconnected location) since 1994 to not know that Friends was a sitcom juggernaut that millions of people have remained devoted to, even though it's been off of the air for over 15 years. With 10 super successful seasons under its belt, Friends saw a lot of actors come and go, some of whom had very important parts to play, even though they weren't Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, Joey, Rachel, or Ross. Paul Rudd joined the show in Season 9, and recently opened up about what it was like to come on so far into that illustrious run.
Paul Rudd sat down for one of Variety's Actors on Actors interviews with Chris Evans recently, and when asked what it was like to be a part of three real benchmarks of popular media (the MCU, Friends and Judd Apatow's films), Rudd went on to explain his feelings about joining Friends when the show was well into its bona fide hit status:
There is a little bit of a Forrest Gump feel to it, where for a while I was in this world that people know, but at the same time something like Friends, the show was about them but it’s an interesting thing to be a part of. I came in at the end and I was only in it for just a blip, but I felt like, ‘Oh, I just don’t want to get in the way. I’m like a prop on this show.’… but there’s a very interesting feeling to be a part of something that has that kind of profound impact on pop culture. I experienced that with The Avengers, too.
Awww! Paul Rudd, don't you ever call yourself a "prop," sir! What would Phoebe have done without good ol' Mike Hannigan? Alright, fine. She probably would have married her first love, David, but that didn't happen so it wasn't meant to be, OK?
While Paul Rudd described his time on Friends as "a blip," he still played an important part by stepping in as Mike for Seasons 9 and 10. Phoebe dated and eventually married Mike on the show, but she had previously only been in very short-lived romances on screen. Phoebe's relationship with Mike was the first time we really got to see what she was like in a long-term relationship with someone who was around consistently, as opposed to her and David's love for one another, which never fully took off because of him traveling to far flung locales for work.
Mike was also important because he immediately accepted Phoebe for all of her wackiness, and managed to match her in that on several levels. For starters, the two only met because Joey and Phoebe had said they were going to choose someone for the other to date and then have both couples go out together. But, Joey is Joey, so he forgot and just went into Central Perk and yelled, "Mike!" to see if anyone would answer...and Mike did. Who else but the kind of good-natured goof ball that our Phoebe could love would say yes to a double blind date instigated by a total stranger?
Paul Rudd also mentioned how interesting it is to be involved in something that has a significant cultural impact, comparing Friends to his, also late, entry into the MCU / Avengers universe, and I can imagine that it's got to be nice to know that something you helped create will live on the way these two properties have and likely will continue to.
You can revisit Paul Rudd's time on Friends right now on HBO Max, but for more to watch on the small screen, be sure to check out what's new to TV this summer!