Recasting 'Friends' with Today's Young Stars
We're doing the unthinkable.
So no one told you life was gonna be this way..." (Don't worry, we know you clapped along in your head.) Welcome to Central Perk, a coffee shop where young 20-somethings could gather and rant about life's problems, while simultaneously creating more for themselves — and we loved them for it.
When Friends premiered in 1994, it changed the lives of an entire generation. Anyone who watched felt as if they became the seventh member of the most relatable group on television. The lovable members of the pack, and the actors who brought them to life, are now infamous. Try as we might, we will never get a revival out of the original cast, but let's hypothetically say a new cast is in play. Here is who we'd pick.
Phoebe Buffay was the funny humanitarian with a heart of gold. Whoever fills Lisa Kudrow's big shoes would need to have the confidence to pull off whatever goofy tactics Phoebe embarks on. This role basically belongs to Brie Larson. She has versatility beyond belief and isn't afraid to let her silly side show. Her experience as Kate in United States of Tara shows that she can tackle Phoebe's heavy past (she was homeless, remember?) without bringing the character down. We'd love to see Kudrow pass Phoebe's torch of optimism on to Larson.
Hey, how you doin’? Recasting Joey Tribbiani is exceptionally tough, mostly because you can’t think “Joey” without thinking “Matt LeBlanc.” LeBlanc turned what could have been a very one-dimensional character into a fan favorite throughout all 10 seasons. Joey even got a spin-off (short-lived as it may have been) for crying out loud! So, for a character as outstanding as Joey, you need the perfect actor. Dave Franco is our guy. He’s suave and loveable so you can forgive any less-than-intelligent comments he might make. Plus who wouldn’t want to see Dave Franco recreate Dr. Drake Ramoray?
Chandler was the shining light for an entire generation of awkward, sarcastic teens so his successor would have to match him perfectly. We turn to Thomas Mann, who stole the spotlight as Greg in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. In this role, Mann displays his ability to transition seamlessly from humor to raw emotion, within seconds if necessary. At 23 he's easily the youngest of our updated cast, but we'll allow it and let his acting skills speak for themselves.
There's something incredibly delicate about the character of Monica Geller. Maybe it's because she has so many different facets or maybe it's because, if not played well, she could be downright annoying. The actress who takes this role on needs to be able to make total control-freak not only bearable, but endearing. That's where Mae Whitman comes in: She's wonderfully charming and real, so you end up relating to her characters and their humanity instead of despising them for it. She also can play an outcast like nobody's business, perfect for portraying Monica's high school years (and fears).
Ross is a tricky role to cast because he has to be so clumsy and nerdy that he’s adorable, and yet still completely attainable. He has to be ever-so-slightly out of Rachel’s league, but also believably attractive to both her and the audience. So we resort back to one of the original geeks, John Francis Daley. His iconic young role as Sam Weir in Freaks and Geeks proves that he’s no stranger to a nerdy character. In fact, young Sam suffered more abuse than Ross ever did. As long as Daley is comfortable with the concept of three failed marriages and a dinosaur obsession, he should be good to go. But what is Ross without his Rachel?
With all the success that she has under her belt, many people may forget that Blake Lively is still in her 20s. True, she has already conquered an uber-successful TV series (Gossip Girl, anyone?) but for an iconic role such as Rachel, we just can’t think of anyone better. Her sweet temperament, impeccable fashion sense, and killer smile mean she's the ideal match for Aniston's portrayal. We've seen her unmatched kindness in Age of Adaline and her razor-sharp sass in Gossip Girl, both of which are essential when navigating the roller coaster of emotions that is Rachel Green's life.