There was one sensitive subject that could have altered the Friends cast’s bond forever — and it wasn’t whether Ross and Rachel were on a break.
Rather, it was the cast’s salary negotiations during Friends‘ 10-year run — and the solidarity that all six cast members showed each other during contract talks — that proved pivotal to their relationship, according to co-star Jennifer Aniston.
“It would’ve destroyed us, I think, if someone was soaring financially,” Aniston told WSJ Magazine in a profile published Tuesday.
Beginning with Friends‘ third season, the core ensemble — Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc — entered collective negotiations and fought for all six cast members to earn the same amount. As Aniston previously told Radio Times, she and Schwimmer had begun earning more than their castmates in Season 2 as Ross and Rachel’s relationship became a central storyline, which prompted her interest in pay equity for the entire cast.
“[The negotiations were] more about, ‘We’re doing equal work and we all deserve to be compensated in the same way,’” Aniston shared at the time. “I wouldn’t feel good going to work knowing someone was getting ‘x’ amount and I was getting something greater.”
Aniston and Schwimmer ultimately took a pay cut heading into Season 3, to remain on par with their costars, and the six main cast members were compensated equally moving forward. In Seasons 9 and 10, they were earning a whopping $1 million per episode.
Perry also spoke about the cast’s solidarity — and Schwimmer’s notable generosity — in his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.
“His decision served to make us take care of each other through what turned out to be a myriad of stressful network negotiations, and it gave us a tremendous amount of power,” Perry wrote. “We had David’s goodness, and his astute business sense, to thank for what we had been offered.”
Jennifer Aniston Reveals the Conflict That ‘Would’ve Destroyed’ Friends Cast. Jennifer Aniston Reveals the Conflict That ‘Would’ve Destroyed’ Friends Cast