There’s no question that Lisa Kudrow is a fantastic actress. Since her on-screen debut in 1989, Kudrow has amassed nearly 100 acting credits, 16 awards, and another 85 nominations. Her most iconic role by far, however, is the quirky Friends character, Phoebe Buffay.
Known for her endearingly awful musical performances, questionable psychic abilities, and, of course, her unwavering devotion to her friends, Phoebe is a fan-favorite character, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that the sitcom has one of the most iconic casts in television history.
That said, even the greatest actor in the world isn’t right for every role. And when Lisa Kudrow auditioned for the classic TV series Frasier years prior to her tenure with Friends, director Jim Burrows was unimpressed.
In an interview with Howard Stern, Kudrow explained that she was mistakenly cast for the role of Roz, Frasier Crane’s producer and close friend. “I knew that Jim clocked that I was wrong from the table read,” Kudrow recalled. “And so I thought, ‘Oh he doesn’t like me or what I do.'”
After one rehearsal, Lisa Kudrow was fired from the role and replaced with Peri Gilpin, the actress now synonymous with the character of Roz Doyle.
‘Friends’ Star Lisa Kudrow Recalls Auditioning for Phoebe
Following her less than encouraging experience on the set of Frasier, Lisa Kudrow began her search for new parts. And a short year later, she found herself auditioning for a new sitcom entitled Friends.
To her horror, Kudrow learned that she not only had to audition for the producers and studio but for Jim Burrows as well. “So then we’re doing Friends and I had to do a special audition for Jim Burrows,” Kudrow explained. “You have to do auditions for producers and studio, network. But in between all of that, I had to go in and read for Jim Burrows.”
“I thought maybe everyone had to do it,” she continued. “But I found out a few years ago that I was the only one. Just to make sure that it was all ok with Jimmy that I played Phoebe.”
Lisa Kudrow recalled being “terrified” about the extra audition. Because she believed Jim Burrows to consider her a poor actress, she felt defeated before she was given a chance.
During the first table read for Friends, however, the two developed a better relationship. Through this experience, Kudrow realized that Burrows’ dislike for her portrayal of Roz didn’t stretch beyond that specific character.
With it all said and done, it’s clear the correct choice was made. While Lisa Kudrow could have undoubtedly played an excellent Roz, that part was made for Peri Gilpin. Likewise, anyone else in the role of Phoebe Buffay is simply unimaginable.