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Friends had a lot of high profile guest actors back in the day, but there was one person the show wanted who would have been a coup if Friends could have gotten him. Apparently, back in the day, the crew reached out to none other than former The Beatles and Wings musician Paul McCartney to play a role on the show.
Since Friends is set in New York City and doesn’t feature a ton of people from across the pond, you may have to rack your brain for a minute to figure out which character the show wanted him to play. If you’ll remember, Ross was actually set to marry an Englishwoman named Emily during Season 4. In the two-part episode, all of the Friends characters even traveled to London for the wedding, meeting Emily’s family in the process. Casting director Leslie Litt really, really wanted to entice McCartney to play Emily’s dad and Ross' soon-to-be father-in-law on the series, according to HuffPost. Unfortunately, although McCartney responded to Litt’s request, it didn’t go quite as the casting director hoped.
I went through his manager and gave him all the details. One day, someone in the office brought me a faxed letter written to me by Paul himself! He thanked me for my interest and said how flattered he was, but it was a very busy time for him.
While it may seem weird that Friends might have wanted McCartney on the show, it’s not totally unprecedented. The Beatles made several movies during their heyday, and McCartney memorably popped up in a 30 Rock cameo just a few years ago during that comedy’s live episode. It was a shot in the dark for sure, but one we would have loved to have seen pan out.
The role eventually went to Scottish actor Tom Conti for the two-parter, which is one of the most memorable storylines in Friends of all time. During the two episodes, Ross and Emily are having a lot of trouble. First, the hall they are supposed to be married in is halfway demolished, then the gang is trying to keep Ross from finding out that Rachel wants to declare her love him. Finally, Ross spends a lot of time trying to keep his parents calm when they discover how expensive the wedding is going to be. It’s all a bit of a disaster, and during the ceremony itself, Ross accidentally says Rachel’s name instead of Emily’s, ending the episode on an awkward note.
The Ross and Rachel saga was full of twists and turns over the years, with one of those turns being Ross’ relationship with Emily. Eventually all was wrapped up in the two characters’ storylines, but now I’m feeling as if we were duped out of one of the greatest cameos on a sitcom ever.
While there’s no McCartney involved, you can catch all of the episodes of Friends on Netflix right now.