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Lisa Kudrow Young: 10 Must-See Photos of the ‘Friends’ Star Through the Years

Plus, learn why she was made to audition for 'Friends' more than anyone else!


Lisa Kudrow has been making people all around the world laugh for years. From playing Phoebe Buffay on the world-renowned sitcom Friends to the laugh-out-loud cult classic Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and her most recent title, HouseBroken, Kudrow has proven she can really do it all. So keep reading to learn more about the award-winning actress and check out these nine must-see photos of Lisa Kudrow young. 

Lisa Kudrow young 

Born in Los Angeles, California, on July 30, 1963, Lisa hadn’t always wanted to be an actress. In fact, she originally went to Vassar College in Pughkesspise, New York, to get a degree in biology in the hopes of specializing in headaches just as her father had. She actually spent eight years working for him in the likelihood of left-handed individuals developing cluster headaches, and was credited in his research study.  

The actress in 1995
Lisa Kudrow in 1995 Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/Getty

But life had other plans, and Kudrow soon joined the improv and sketch comedy school The Groundlings in Los Angeles. From there, she went on to make a single episode appearance on Cheers, as well as three episodes of Bob in 1993, and enjoyed a few other small roles. Kudrow auditioned for Saturday Night Live in 1990, but the show went in another direction. 

The way she looked in 1996
Lisa Kudrow in 1996 Jeff Kravitz / Contributor/Getty

She was actually cast as Roz Doyle in Frasier, but was released, the role going to Peri Gilpin instead.  “I wasn’t right for the part [or] for the chemistry of the group. So that wasn’t working, but I did think, ‘Oh, I am not this guy’s cup of tea,” Kudrow told People in 2021. 

Lisa Kudrow young: Life before Friends 

Lisa’s life really began to change when she found herself cast as Ursula Buffay in the NBC sitcom Mad About You in 1992. She went on to appear in 23 episodes in total, which was more than enough for one of the show’s writers, husband to Friends co-creator David Crane, to tell him that he had the perfect Phoebe.  

Related: Mad About You Cast’: Where Are They Now? 

I thought Mad About You was the best-written show I’d ever seen, and I always liked talking to writers,” Kudrow told Vanity Fair in 2012. “Jeffrey Klarik was one of the writers who was always really friendly and complimentary, and I didn’t know his boyfriend was David Crane. David saw me because he paid attention to everything Jeffrey did. And I think that’s how I got called in for an audition for Friends.” 

Lisa Kudrow young in 1995
Lisa Kudrow in 1995 Steve Granitz / Contributor/Getty

They even went so far as to connect the two worlds and made Kudrow’s characters on Mad About You and Friends twins, allowing for a few crossovers on the show. 

“My husband Jeffrey [Klarik] was on Mad About You as a writer. We had to go to [creators] Danny Jacobson and Paul Reiser to get their permission, and amazingly, because of that relationship… they were incredibly generous and let us do it, which is nuts,” Crane said. “I wouldn’t let anybody do that with a character on our show!”

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Kudrow when it came to casting, though. In fact, she had to audition for Friends twice, unlike the other actors, who only had to audition once. The reason? The director, James Burrows, was the one who had released her from Frasier. 

Lisa Kudrow young in 1996
Lisa Kudrow in 1996 Getty Images/Handout/Getty

“So I was nervous to go in, thinking I’m about to read for the guy who doesn’t get me and doesn’t think I’m funny,” Kudrow recalled. “My audition was a monologue, so there was no reacting off of anybody. Jimmy said, ‘No notes … O.K., thank you, Lisa.’ And I thought, ‘All right, so that’s it. No notes either means “It was so great I don’t have anything to say” or “Why do they keep putting this girl in front of me?'” 

The Friends Era 

Obviously, Kudrow won the role of Phoebe Buffay and went on to play her for 10 seasons, but she wasn’t confident she’d be with the show all that long, feeling that her character didn’t really fit in with the others.

“Shooting the pilot that week, I was like, ‘All right, here we go,'” she recalled. “And Phoebe was not the character that was part of this group, really. There was a struggle.” 

Lisa Kudrow Young: The cast of friends (1994)
The cast of Friends (1994)

That soon changed, though, and it wasn’t long before the six of them (Lisa, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer) became fast friends and even family over the course of filming. 

“When we started shooting that first season, Jimmy said, ‘Use my dressing room to hang out.’ Because it was bigger, we would all hang out playing poker and bonding — I think we all understood that the point of the show was that we were family and best friends,” Kudrow said. “We needed to hang out, get to know each other and bond as quickly as possible, because that’s the only way that the show was going to work.” 

Lisa Kudrow young season one of Friends (1994)
Lisa Kudrow in season one of Friends (1994)

Friends ran from 1994-2004, with Kudrow winning an Emmy (the first of the six of them to do so) and a Golden Globe nomination. The show ended on May 6, 2004, with the final episode being titled “The Last One.” 

I felt like we could have gone longer,” Kudrow told Vanity Fair in 2012. “David and Marta were saying, ‘It is getting harder for Rachel and Ross to come up with reasons why they’re not together.’ And then, ultimately, it’s a good thing that we were done, because sometimes you have to be pushed out of the nest.” 

Lisa Kudrow Young: The cast of friends (2004)
The last episode of Friends (2004)

To this day, Kudrow remains close … well, friends … with the rest of the cast. 

Related: 10 Surprising Behind-the-Scenes Secrets About Matthew Perry’s Time on ‘Friends’

Life after Friends 

After Kudrow left Central Perk, Kudrow went on to assume much smaller parts, opting for roles like principals or mothers in guest roles on TV shows like The Good Place, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Scandal. 

Lisa Kudrow Young: Friends: The Reunion (2021)
Friends: The Reunion (2021)

She also appeared as herself in the 2021 special Friends: The Reunion. It was the first time since the show went off the air that the six main cast members were all together in one room. 

Lisa Kudrow’s personal life 

Lisa Kudrow keeps her personal life pretty private. In 1995, she married Michel Stern, the two still together today. In 1998, they welcomed their son, Julian Murray Stern.

Mother and son in 2021
Lisa Kudrow with her son Julian Murray Stern in 2021 Lisa Kudrow’s Instagram

During this time, Kudrow’s pregnancy was written into Friends, with the plot of Phoebe becoming a surrogate for her brother’s babies. 

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