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The Chandler Accident On Friends That Wasn't Scripted

Acting takes more than memorizing lines and hitting marks. Sure, the mechanics matter, but really portraying a character means digging deeper. Building a backstory. Tapping into real emotions. Many actors study for years to learn how to do it. They study acting and they also study improv, so they know how to perform without a script and make up dialogue and actions in the moment. We've all seen scripted movies and TV shows that included some unplanned improvised scenes.

That's not exactly what happened, however, in one particularly funny episode of "Friends," during Season 4: "The One with the Cuffs." In the episode, Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) stirs up trouble with Rachel Greene (Jennifer Aniston) by dating her boss, Joanna (Alison LaPlaca). Things get even more dicey when Chandler winds up handcuffed to a filing cabinet at Rachel and Joanna's office. What happens next definitely wasn't planned, but it wasn't intentionally improvised either. In fact, it could have been dangerous. 

Chandler really should have ended things

Everyone admires an actor who can throw himself into a role. But that kind of commitment usually comes in the form of a metaphor. There's often no need for actors to literally toss their bodies around. That's the job of stunt people. In "The One with the Cuffs," it's unlikely anyone considered hiring a stunt person for Matthew Perry in the scene with the filing cabinet, however. It's supposed to be funny and, of course, perfectly safe. The whole thing starts with Chandler and Joanna kissing in a chair in her office. When she's called away, she playfully handcuffs him to the chair, closes the door, and locks it. Little does she know, Rachel has a key.

When Rachel opens the door, she's hoping to find Joanna's Christmas bonus list. Finding a pants-less Chandler instead, she's far from amused. Chandler promised he was going to end the relationship and here's proof that he hasn't. "All right, this is it! You never see Joanna again," Rachel practically spits, releasing Chandler so he can leave. But when she realizes this will reveal that she holds a key to her boss's office, she decides it's not a good idea. She's got to lock him up again.

One actor was harmed in the making of this "Friends" episode

Naturally Chandler resists Rachel's attempts to handcuff him back to the chair. A tussle ends with Rachel handcuffing him to the top drawer of a tall filing cabinet instead. "Well this is much better," Chandler says, sarcastically. But he has no idea his situation has gone from bad to worse. Though he's down to one arm, the physical fight is far from over at this point. They tug-of-war with Chandler's pants, then Chandler turns and opens the door, yelling for help. When Rachel slams it shut, he takes a new approach and calms down.

"I'm gonna say this for the last time," he says. "Would you please just—" And that's when it happens. Perry accidentally pulls the drawer open with his handcuffed wrist. When it smashes into the back of his head, his face registers the shock. A cut to Aniston shows she's just as surprised. The fact is the scene was never supposed to go like that, according to ScreenRant. But both actors recover quickly, getting through the scene without (as far as we know) lasting damage to poor Perry's head. And that's the mark of real pros. Perry and Aniston managed to create comedy even in the wake of an on-set accident.