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Courteney Cox Recalls The Cheeky Prank Matt LeBlanc Played On Her During A Taping Of Friends

Monica Gellar on Friends.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Friends is a far-reaching phenomenon, with fans just as passionate now — 18 years after it went off the air — as they were in the '90s. Thanks to syndication and streaming, the public basically has 24/7 access to the show and can thus recite entire episodes from memory. This fact makes it almost hard to believe that the iconic actors themselves might have struggled to remember the dialogue, as Courteney Cox admitted when recalling a prank Matt LeBlanc played on her during a taping of the hit NBC sitcom.

Courteney Cox played Monica Gellar on Friends, and the actress recently opened up on The Graham Norton Show about how she didn’t always know her lines. (To be fair, the actors did not have the benefit of watching every episode 2,500 times like some of us have, and don’t judge me, because I know I’m not alone.) So Cox found ways to maneuver around the challenge. Her co-stars, of course, knew her tricks, and Matt LeBlanc, who played her neighbor Joey Tribbiani, used that knowledge to pull a prank on her on set. Cox recalled: 

I didn’t always have an easy time remembering my lines on Friends. … The writers would sometimes give you new scripts right on the spot or right before [a taping]. Sometimes I also didn’t prepare as much as I should’ve. So I would put my lines either in the fruit bowl, sometimes, sometimes in the sink. I’d just be sitting there, and [I’d] go to the sink and pretend to wash and look at a couple [of] pages. One time, in particular, I had something large to say, I would call it like a paragraph … And Matt LeBlanc didn’t tell me — obviously it was a prank on me, I didn’t know it at all — and he took the piece of paper that I had in the fruit bowl. And I was like getting an apple … I winged it, whatever the word is, I think it worked out, but it was not OK.

Monica was always known to be cleaning, so it would be completely in character for Courteney Cox to go over to the sink or adjust the fruit in the bowl. Now, I feel like I should go back and watch for any hidden scripts! Apparently, the playfully shady Scream actress was not prepared for her long speech on the day in question, and the fact that she had a lot to say that day is probably exactly why Matt LeBlanc decided to strike when he did. Apparently, whatever she said worked, regardless of what was written on the page. 

Courteney Cox also revealed that she didn’t even find out that she’d been the victim of a prank until 2021, when the Friends stars reunited for the HBO Max special. Now that, sir, is a good prank. Cox has said it’s unlikely the reunion will happen again between her, Matt LeBlanc and their other co-stars — Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry — but maybe it should. Because I bet there are more memories the actors could knock loose about the fun they had on set during the show's decade-long run. 

If you want to relive the “Must See TV” fun, and look for scripts in the sink while you’re doing it, all 10 seasons of Friends, as well as Friends: The Reunion are available for streaming on HBO Max. And be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what shows are coming soon. 

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.