Paul Rudd Explains Why He Felt ‘Strange’ About Being Included In Friends’ Series Finale

Paul Rudd and Lisa Kudrow as Mike and Phoebe on Friends.
(Image credit: HBO Max)

A ton of A-list guest stars came and went over the 10 years that Friends was on the air, including Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts, Tom Selleck and George Clooney. But as Season 10 wound down, and the six core actors filmed their final scenes in Monica and Rachel’s purple, rent-controlled apartment, there was only one outsider who’d earned a place in the inner circle. Paul Rudd was featured in Friends’ 2004 series finale, playing Phoebe’s husband Mike, and the actor recently spoke about why he felt “strange” about being included.

Whether he was flirting with the guy from the children’s charity to get their donation back or calmly explaining why Phoebe couldn’t keep rats as pets, Mike Hannigan was the perfect complement to Lisa Kudrow’s kooky character. He added stability to her life without taking the spotlight. To be part of the final episode, though, felt weird because of what the experience meant for actors who’d been together for a decade. He told the hosts of Heart Breakfast:  

It was really fun and they were great. The whole thing was a bit surreal, I must say, to be a part of that. Because I came really at the end. I never knew I was going to be in as many as I was. But it also felt strange. I was in that last episode and I just thought, ‘I shouldn't be here, I’m getting a front row seat to things I’m not supposed to see.’

Paul Rudd made his Friends debut in the third episode of Season 9 and appeared in 16 altogether over the final two seasons. In “The Last One,” Mike is there with the whole gang, when Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) come home from the hospital with their twins. That’s when we learn what Pheobe’s future holds, as she and Mike decide to start trying to have their own baby.

As important a moment as it was to put a bow on Phoebe’s story, the eternally youthful-looking actor seemingly felt a little awkward, given how poignant a time it was for the other actors. He continued: 

They were all crying, it was all emotional. I felt very privileged but I was like, ‘Oh I just want to sit back here and not get in the way.’

It seems the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania star had the same philosophy off-screen as on — not wanting to take the attention away from the main cast. He knew what the moment meant for Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and the rest, and he was just trying to stay out of the way.

Matthew Perry wrote in his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing that when the first AD yelled “that’s a wrap” on the series, “tears sprang from almost everyone’s eyes." Jennifer Aniston, in particular, seemed to have had some intense emotions surrounding the end of Friends’ run — which, incidentally, coincided with the end of her marriage to Brad Pitt — and Perry recalled the Rachel portrayer crying so hard he “was amazed she had any water left in her entire body.”

I can definitely see how Paul Rudd might have felt like an interloper during that emotional series finale — the same way his daughter felt about him being on Friends in general — no matter how important it was that Mike was there for Phoebe. You can relive the series finale or any of your favorite episodes, as all 10 seasons of Friends and the reunion special are available to stream with an HBO Max subscription

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.