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The Friends Connection You Never Noticed In Criminal Minds

The cast of CBS' hit crime procedural "Criminal Minds" is a mix of actors whose careers the show helped launch and those who joined the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) with an already robust resume. For Matthew Gray Gubler and Kirsten Vangsness, the series was one of their first major roles. On the flip side, Mandy Patinkin and Joe Mantegna (who you may also know as Fat Tony from "The Simpsons") were both already Tony Award-winning Broadway veterans when they joined the cast. 

Paget Brewster and Aisha Tyler, who play Emily Prentiss and Dr. Tara Lewis, are in the category of the latter. And while Patinkin and Mantegna may have major theater awards in common, Brewster and Tyler share a very different kind of specific show-business distinction. Not only did both actors have recurring roles on the beloved '90s sitcom "Friends," they both played a love interest for Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) who later left him for one of his pals.

Brewster had a six-episode arc on Season 4 as Kathy, an actress who is introduced as Joey's girlfriend before she leaves him for Chandler (Matthew Perry) after the two develop feelings for one another. During Seasons 9 and 10, Tyler had a memorable stint as paleontologist Charlie Wheeler, who begins dating Joey, but ultimately realizes that Ross (David Schwimmer) is a better fit. Don't worry if you don't remember those particular storylines, as there are a lot of "Friends" guest stars that people forget about.

While Brewster and Tyler never crossed paths on "Friends," they both reported having similar experiences when they joined the mega-popular sitcom.

Paget Brewster and Aisha Tyler both reported getting a warm reception from the cast of Friends

During a career retrospective interview with AV Club, Brewster revealed that despite believing she was the "runty alternate" when she was called in to audition for the part of Kathy, she quickly became the top choice for the role. According to her, "Matthew [Perry] told me later that he and [executive producer] Kevin Bright ... had said, 'Well, that's the funniest one, she's the one,' and they hired me to do it. It was four episodes, and then they made it six."

Tyler reported a similarly encouraging experience when she spoke about her time on the sitcom during an interview with InStyle. "The cast was incredibly welcoming when I first joined," she said. She continued by revealing that following her first day of taping in front of the live studio audience, she got a touching message of encouragement: "Matthew Perry made a point of saying to me as a quiet aside, 'Get ready for your life to change,' and it did! He may have said that to every guest actor, I don't know, but it was a special moment for me, and a seminal memory of my time there."

Still, despite the warm reception from the cast, Tyler confessed that shooting "Friends" was not an easy-breezy gig. When asked whether she felt "pressure or self-doubt" during her run on the show she replied, "Every single minute of every scene ... I was wracked with self-doubt. You wanted to do your job and not get in the cast's way, but your job was also to be funny, and it could be tough to land a joke surrounded by all those titans."

Thankfully, when it comes to her "Criminal Minds" cast, Tyler has someone who understands that particular kind of pressure.