‘Frasier’: Lisa Kudrow Revealed She Was Fired from the Show Before Landing ‘Friends’ Role

by Quentin Blount

It may come as a surprise to fans of ’90s television, but Friends actress Lisa Kudrow once appeared in the pilot for Frasier.

That’s right — Lisa Kudrow, the actress who rose to international fame in the 1990s while portraying Phoebe Buffay on Friends, was initially pegged for the role of Roz Doyal on Frasier. She sat down on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday to reveal why exactly she was pulled from the role on Frasier just three days into filming the pilot episode. She says that director James Burrows didn’t think she was a good fit.

“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 said of director James Burrows. Burrows eventually settled on actress Peri Gilpin for the role in place of Kudrow.

Speaking of Frasier, the show was led by Kelsey Grammer. He played psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the NBC sitcom Cheers and on Frasier for more than two decades. Frasier aired on NBC from 1993 until 2004 and ran for 11 seasons. Meanwhile, fans of the popular show got some great news back in February. They learned that a revival series on Paramount+ was greenlit and that the 66-year-old Grammer would be reprising his role as Frasier Crane.

Lisa Kudrow Would Have to Deal With ‘Frasier’ Director James Burrows Once More

After getting the axe from Frasier thanks to the show’s director James Burrows, you would think there would have been an awkward relationship between him and Lisa Kudrow. And perhaps there was.

During her interview on The Howard Stern Show, Kudrow explained that the discord between her and Burrows easily could have cost her the role of Phoebe on Friends, too. She revealed that she was “the only one of the six of us who had to go in and audition for Jimmy,” who was set to direct episodes of Friends as well as Frasier. The other five stars of the ensemble cast include Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer.

“I had one extra audition just for James Burrows,” Kudrow elaborated. “I did it and he went, ‘No notes.’ I left going, ‘That either means she’s beyond help and helpless, just like I always knew,’ or ‘Yeah, it’s perfect, I have no notes.'”

The rest, of course, is history. We all know that Kudrow went on to score the part of Phoebe. Not only that, but the show became one of the most successful in all of television. But when they first started filming episodes of Friends, she couldn’t help but have some of the same feelings from the Frasier pilot creep in.

“Shooting the pilot that week I was like, ‘Alright, here we go,'” Kudrow said. “And Phoebe was not the character that was part of this group really, that easily. There was a struggle.”