Deadline just excerpted veteran TV director James Burrows‘ new book, but one comment about a particular recurring guest cast member on Friends got a decidedly unfriendly response in the trade’s comments section.
In Burrows’ memoir, Directed By James Burrows, he said of Helen Baxendale, who played Ross Geller’s English girlfriend-turned-wife Emily: “She was nice, but not particularly funny.”
Baxendale joined the show in season 4 and left the next season, after Emily married Ross in a ceremony where he blurted out the name of Jennifer Aniston‘s Rachel during his vows.
Further, Burrows says, she lacked “chemistry” with her onscreen love interest, played by David Schwimmer. “Schwimmer had no one to bounce off. It was like clapping with one hand,” he expressed.
“[T]he funny is just as important as the chemistry,” he added. “We discovered that any new girlfriend for Ross needed to be as funny as Rachel.”
Burrows even revealed they plotted recasting the actress, but said a tight schedule nixed that proposition. “Sometimes you start an arc and it ain’t working out, so you have to get rid of that person. If it’s a day player, it’s a quick goodbye.”
Considering it’s been a long time since an unexpected real-life pregnancy led to Baxendale quitting the show — and indeed the show itself has been off the air since 2004 — more than one person saw Burrows’ comments as unnecessarily “petty.”
Another hissed, “Tacky comments from Burrows, for sure.”
Other Friends fans who chimed in thought her performance perfectly fit the character, who was thrust into the longtime group of pals.
Another asked, “What did this woman do to deserve this blurb? Nothing.”
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