Friends was a harmless comedy that ruled the TV landscape for a decade. It made household names of its cast and was loved by just about everyone, with the possible exception of some of the show's cast members, one of whom can't remember anything about three seasons of the show thanks to substance abuse. Some of the cast struggled with fame and fortune. Some fought messy legal battles. Others had run-ins with the police. For a harmless sitcom, Friends created some difficult issues for its cast members.
Out of everyone involved with Friends, Matthew Perry has been the most open about his struggles with the darker side of celebrity life. On the show, he played the always sarcastic Chandler. Off set, he struggled with fame and found himself in rehab twice while the show was on the air. According to Perry's 2016 interview with BBC Radio 2, his addiction to drink and drugs lead him to blank out three seasons of filming. He said he can't recall events "…somewhere between season three and six." He only stopped his self-destructive behaviour when "…things got so bad I couldn't hide it and then everybody knew."
Matt LeBlanc retreated from the limelight when he had the chance. The show's massive success meant that he could "barely leave the house" as he told The Mirror. To LeBlanc, it was a "very dark time" during which he "nearly had a nervous breakdown." Back in 2006, LeBlanc retreated to his cattle ranch in California to focus on fatherhood. At 11 months old his daughter, Marina, was diagnosed with cortical dysplasia, a condition which affects the brain, bones and motor skills. He says that "spending time with her is the best thing I've ever done" and that he and his daughter have a "great bond and it's the best thing in my life."
Fame seems to have affected all three of the male leads but with different results. Where Perry took to drugs and drink and LeBlanc ran away, Schwimmer wanted to "hide under a baseball cap and not be seen." It affected him professionally too because he could no longer "observe life and observe other people" to inform his acting. He was too well known for that. The show's instant success was "pretty jarring and it messed with my relationship to other people in a way that took years…to adjust to." After a while, he developed a "tricky" balance by varying the roles outside of the hit sitcom as well as developing his skills behind the camera.
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