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The biggest Friends cameos you forgot about

For 10 seasons and a whopping 236 episodes, Friends brought us into the hilarious world of Rachel Greene (Jennifer Aniston), Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), and Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), six friends trying to navigate life and love in New York City. They break up, make up, gain jobs, lose loved ones, land gigs, and somehow, always end up back at Central Perk. 

Along the way, they are joined by a vast variety of bosses, crushes, enemies, and old friends. Many of these small roles, some of them confined to single episodes, are celebrity cameos — a whole lot of them from figures you might not expect to see on a prime-time sitcom. Friends packs so many cameos into its 10-season run, we're willing to bet there are a whole lot you've forgotten about. Sometimes they're love interests, sometimes they're extended family, sometimes they're colleagues, and sometimes they're bosses, but they're all among Friends' best cameos. 

Brad Pitt

Given the reign and explosive dissolution of Brangelina, it's easy to forget that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the it couple of the 1990s. As such, it makes perfect sense that Brad Pitt would cameo on his girlfriend's show — but boy, does the episode in question land differently today.

In season eight's "The One With The Rumor," Brad Pitt plays Will Colbert, a former high school classmate of Rachel, Monica, and Ross, who's visiting for Thanksgiving dinner. Will and Ross were good friends back then, bonded together by their geekiness ... and their hatred of Rachel. Back then, Rachel was a bully who Will remembers as being particularly cruel to him. As such, Will glares daggers at Rachel for the entire episode. Not only does Rachel find out it was Will and Ross who spread a nasty rumor about her in high school, Will ends his friendship with Ross upon learning that Rachel is now pregnant with his baby. Watching Pitt glare at Aniston was hilarious when the episode aired, and while you might still laugh at it today, it's likely for different, more darkly comedic reasons.

Julia Roberts

In the second half of season two's "The One After The Superbowl," the gang hangs out on a movie set. While there, Chandler runs into a girl he went to school with. Unfortunately, she's Susie Moss, who he bullied by pulling up her skirt and showing everyone her underwear. Played by Julia Roberts, Susie has grown up to be gorgeous, successful, and apparently, quite big-hearted, as she seems to have forgiven Chandler for his crimes.

But the joke ends up on Chandler after Susie convinces him to change into her pink thong in a restaurant bathroom. While he's doing it, thinking it's foreplay, Susie steals all of Chandler's clothes and forces him to walk out in public wearing nothing but the thong. It turns out that Susie was scarred for life by Chandler's childish joke, leading to the nickname "Little Susie Underpants," which followed her all the way through high school. Could Chandler be any more of a jerk? 

George Clooney and Noah Wyle

Since George Clooney has become one of the most famous movie stars in the world, it's easy to forget that he began as a television star on ER, alongside Noah Wyle. The two heartthrobs appear together in season one's "The One With Two Parts," where they star as doctors in a nice meta nod to their more famous roles.

In this particular comedy of errors, Rachel gets caught in the string of balcony Christmas lights Monica had been nagging her to take down for ages. With her ankle badly twisted, Rachel needs to go to the ER, but is reluctant to do so as she doesn't have insurance. Monica gives her permission to pretend to be her. Unfortunately, her doctors are Clooney and Wyle ... who now think that Rachel is Monica. Cue Rachel and Monica trying to keep their lies straight on a double date. Naturally, it all explodes into a huge fight that scares both doctors off.

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal

Not only is Robin Williams and Billy Crystal's tandem cameo at the beginning of season three's "The One With The Ultimate Fighting Champion" one of the funniest in the entire run of the show, it was also completely improvised by the two actors. Crystal plays Tim and Williams plays Thomas, as Thomas processes a unique emotional crisis. The cafe is packed, so the duo sit at the gang's regular table, allowing everyone to overhear that Thomas thinks his wife is cheating on him. A shocking twist occurs when Tim reveals that he's the man Thomas' wife is having an affair with.

The gang gets completely sucked into the conversation as eavesdroppers — easy to do, since, well, it's Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. At some point, they give up all pretense and openly lean in to listen to the conversation. This is one of the few Friends cameos in which the guest stars actually have nothing to do with the gang. It's just a brief New York moment of people having to share a small space ... and one incredibly juicy conversation.

Chris Isaak

In a meta moment for Friends, actor-singer Chris Isaak plays Rob in season two's "The One After The Superbowl." This cameo came after the real-life singer's song "Wicked Game" featured as one of Ross and Rachel's make-out tunes. Rob works at the local library organizing story time and singalongs for the children, and runs into Phoebe at Central Perk during once of her musical sets. He loves her frank storytelling style and personality, and invites her to lead story hour in song.

While the kids love her honesty — she sings about death, vegetarianism, and how adults lie — the parents are not so thrilled, and force Rob to fire her. Not before Rob and Phoebe make out, of course. In an adorable turn, the children loved Phoebe's songs so much, they call her "the lady who tells the truth," and seek her out at Central Perk for more of her educational music.

Isabella Rossellini

There is a lot that's far-fetched about Friends, but celebrity sightings in a New York coffee shop is not one of them. 

In season three's "The One With Frank Jr.," the gang has been discussing their list of celebrities they would be allowed to sleep with with their partner's blessing, should their paths ever cross. Ross and Rachel are in an on-again moment, so when Ross wants to include Isabella Rossellini on his list, a bemused Rachel says she's international and he'd never have a chance with her. He puts Winona Ryder on his list instead and gets it laminated to keep in his wallet, because, well, he's Ross. Lo and behold, one day Isabella Rossellini actually appears in Central Perk and a benevolent Rachel allows Ross to hit on her even though she's technically not on the list. Ross even goes so far as to show Rossellini the laminated list that she isn't even on, and a chic Rossellini lets him down as gently as she can.

Danny DeVito

Rachel and Monica have planned a super fancy bachelorette tea party for Phoebe in preparation for her marriage to Mike. But Phoebe isn't into it — she wanted to do fun, wild things at the party, not sit around drinking tea. Scrambling to appease the bride-to-be, Rachel and Monica call a stripper service at the last minute.

Enter Danny DeVito as Roy Goodbody in season ten's "The One Where The Stripper Cries." Since he's not exactly the kind of stripper Phoebe, or anyone, had been hoping for, Roy gets upset. This isn't the first time he's been unwanted, and he soon crumbles into a full emotional breakdown. Phoebe and the girls find their compassion, and give Roy his moment to shine. In the end, they all have a great time, even though the party wasn't exactly what Phoebe wanted. DeVito's physical comedy skills are on full display in this one, even though the body shaming can get rather ugly. The times, thankfully, have changed, but DeVito's talent shines regardless.

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Part two of season two's "The One After The Superbowl" features the gang spending time on a movie set while Ross's monkey Marcel works on the film. Cue the celebrity cameos! Julia Roberts plays a make-up artist named Susie, but action star Jean-Claude Van Damme actually plays a version of himself. Monica has an instant crush on Van Damme, but can't find the nerve to go speak to him. Rachel says she'll ask him out on Monica's behalf, but Van Damme ends up crushing on Rachel instead and asks her out. 

While it's deeply funny to watch the two women fight over a bemused Van Damme, Rachel and Monica's spat turns quite violent: Monica rips Rachel's sweater, while Rachel pours marinara sauce into Monica's full purse. Phoebe breaks it up with her characteristic exclamation, "Stop the madness!" and the two women decide their friendship is more important than a guy. Even if that guy is Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Chrissie Hynde

One of Friends' best ongoing gags is Phoebe and her delightfully weird performances. From "Smelly Cat" to "Sticky Shoes," Phoebe's wackiness is perfectly singular. Sure, her songs are weird. And yeah, no one pays all that much attention to her. But her work is her own, and she's got a steady thing going at Central Perk. That is, until Stephanie shows up in season two's "The One With The Baby On The Bus."

Played by The Pretenders Chrissie Hynde, Stephanie is a professional musician whose skill and repertoire far outstrips Phoebe's amateur experience. Adding insult to injury, Stephanie actually gets paid to sing and play her guitar. Naturally, Phoebe goes ballistic. In retaliation, Phoebe sings protest songs just outside Central Perk as Stephanie does her sets until the manager "hires" her back. But no one will soon forget listening to Chrissie Hynde turn "Smelly Cat" into an actual song.

Brooke Shields

One of Joey Tribbiani's few acting successes is his role on Days of Our Lives, in which he plays Dr. Drake Ramoray. In part one of season two's "The One After The Superbowl," Brooke Shields plays Erika, Dr. Ramoray's number-one fan. She's not Joey's fan, mind you — she's very specifically Dr. Ramoray's fan. The distinction matters, as she's a deranged stalker who thinks that Days of Our Lives is real, and that Joey is an actual doctor. 

The episode turns gnarly when Erika is confronted with an episode of Days of Our Lives in which Drake kisses another woman. In a rage, Erika confronts Joey, and the gang is forced to pretend that he's Dr. Ramoray's evil twin, Hans. Yeah, this episode goes meta on the meta. The episode ends in characteristic physical comedy as the gang each throw a glass of water on Joey/Hans Ramoray, all claiming that he cheated on them too. 

Denise Richards

In one of Friends' more cringeworthy episodes, season seven's "The One With Ross and Monica's Cousin" brings uber-hottie Denise Richards into the fold as the Gellers' cousin Cassie. Cassie has come to stay with Monica and Chandler, and Monica is stunned to see that her baby cousin has grown into an absolutely gorgeous young woman. 

Chandler is so overwhelmed by her beauty and charisma that it quickly becomes uncomfortable for Cassie (and Monica) to be around. She goes to stay with Ross as a compromise. Even though Cassie is Ross' cousin too, he has super creepy thoughts about her, and even makes a pass. It would be funny if it weren't so gross. Cassie eventually goes to stay with Phoebe, who also develops an instant crush on her and considers asking her out because unlike everyone else, she's not actually related to her. Go, Pheebs! Live your non-creepy dream!

Ralph Lauren

Seeing that Rachel worked for Ralph Lauren's fashion house for the final five seasons of the show, a cameo from the designer himself was practically mandatory. In season six's "The One With Ross' Teeth," Phoebe visits Rachel at work to use their photocopier and is stoked to tell Rachel that she ended up making out with Ralph Lauren while she was there.

To impress Kim, her boss, Rachel tells her about the incident. It backfires: Kim thinks Rachel is lying, and is trying to sleep her way to the top. Later, we find out that Phoebe didn't actually make out with Ralph Lauren, but with Kenny the Copy Guy. Still, Kim won't believe Rachel and still assumes she is talking about herself. One day at work, Kim and Rachel are in the elevator and Ralph Lauren walks in. They ride in total silence. After Mr. Lauren exits, Kim bonds with Rachel, thinking that his silence was essentially him dumping Rachel. Oh, Friends.

Gabrielle Union

In season seven's "The One With The Cheap Wedding Dress," Gabrielle Union plays Kristen, a new tenant in Joey's building. Joey and Ross both have instant crushes on her and do their best to ingratiate themselves by helping her move in before asking her out on a date. The problem is, they don't know the other is also dating her. Once they find out, they know it can't continue. 

Joey and Ross decide to compete for Kristen's attentions, with a maximum of $100 to spend on their next date and an agreement in place: Whoever Kristen chooses, wins. But Ross cheats by sending her expensive flowers before the date. Naturally, then, Joey shows up during their date to ruin it by telling Kristen about Ross' divorces. As Joey and Ross get more and more nasty to each other, they don't even realize that Kristen has left the restaurant, never to be seen or heard from again ... even though she lives in Joey's building.

Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder didn't just replace Isabella Rossellini on Ross' "hall pass" list — she also appears in season seven's "The One With Rachel's Big Kiss" as Melissa Warburton, one of Rachel's college sorority sisters. A random encounter in Central Perk leads to Rachel revealing that one night during her senior year of college, she and Melissa drank too much sangria and ended up kissing. Joey fixates on the story, because he's Joey, but Phoebe puts a damper on the tale. She declares that she doesn't think Rachel is capable of such an out-of-character act. 

To prove Phoebe wrong, Rachel invites her along to dinner with Melissa, during which Melissa denies the kiss ever happened. In a final bout of desperation, Rachel kisses Melissa before she gets in her cab to prove to Phoebe that she can be wild. Melissa ends up confessing she's been in love with Rachel all this time, and Phoebe ends up kissing Rachel to see what's such a big deal. "I've had better," is Phoebe's dismissive response.

Jeff Goldblum

Joey Tribbiani is a terrible actor. However, in season nine's "The One With The Mugging," he has a brief brush with greatness when he auditions for Friends-verse theater legend Leonard Hayes, played by real-life legend Jeff Goldblum. Joey auditions for one of Hayes' upcoming productions and bombs his performance big time. But since one of the other casting directors found Joey attractive, he gets a call-back. The only problem is, this second time, Joey really needs to go to the bathroom ... but the casting director won't give him a break to do it. 

As a result, Joey's performance alongside Hayes is frenetic, kinetic, and edgy. Hayes loves it, and Joey gets the part. Unfortunately, Joey can't replicate the performance Hayes loved unless he really needs to pee, which of course comes to a head when Hayes keeps Joey behind after rehearsal to give him notes and Joey ends up accidentally peeing on him. Safe to say, he lost that gig pretty quickly.

Gary Oldman

In the first part of season seven's "The One With Monica And Chandler's Wedding," we discover that Joey isn't the worst actor in the Friends universe: Gary Oldman as Richard Crosby gives him a run for his money. 

Joey has been cast in a World War II period piece, and has the opportunity to work with Crosby, a famous method actor. The speedbump here is that Crosby, in the spirit of perfectly articulating his lines, keeps on spitting in Joey's face. Because Joey can't just give the legendary man some notes, he begins spitting right back into Crosby's face, making a messy situation even worse. Gary Oldman rarely stars in comedies, so seeing him here, doing the kind of slapstick all Friends guest stars are subjected to, is a rare treat indeed. It's over so quickly, however, that it barely has the chance to register before it's gone. Do yourself a favor and revisit it today.

Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie uses his finely tuned sarcasm and natural British accent to tremendous effect in season four's "The One With Ross' Wedding." Rachel has left behind an extremely pregnant Phoebe to fly to London so she can tell Ross how she feels. The catch? All of this is going down on the eve of Ross' wedding to Emily. Yikes.

On the airplane, Rachel sits next to an unnamed passenger and proceeds to unload her entire history with Ross on him as he rolls his eyes. He is, quite literally, a captive audience. So annoyed by what Rachel has told him and the fact that she won't shut up, the passenger tells Rachel that she's a horrible person, Phoebe was right to tell her not to go, and that from his perspective, she and Ross were, in fact, "on a break" when he slept with another woman. Well, that finally shuts Rachel up. But unfortunately it doesn't stop her from ruining Ross' second marriage.

David Arquette

Jennifer Aniston wasn't the only Friends star to have her then-significant other appear in a cameo role on the show. In season three's "The One With The Jam," Courteney Cox's husband David Arquette makes arguably one of the creepiest cameos of the show's entire run. As Malcolm, Arquette plays Phoebe's sister Ursula's stalker, who begins stalking Phoebe because he thinks they're the same person. 

In characteristic Phoebe form, she tries to help Malcolm while also falling for him, until she finds out that in spite of Ursula's restraining order against him, Malcolm is still stalking her. Jeepers. The gang is rightfully creeped out by Malcolm, but Phoebe won't let him go until after she suggests he go ahead and stalk her to get over her sister. She eventually realizes that none of this is healthy or will work and moves on, fully overshadowing the dozens and dozens of jam jars that should have taken center stage in this episode.