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The Cast Of ‘Friends’ Hit The Jackpot When They Were Cast on The Show—Here’s How Rich Their TV Stint Made Them

It’s been 15 years since the hit NBC sitcom ‘Friends’ aired its final episode but it still remains to be a popular cultural phenomenon even to this day. Its seemingly eternal place on Netflix’s series lineup is proof of this enduring appeal.

No wonder its main cast were very well compensated to play their respective roles as the six titular friends. In reality, though, they actually had to convince media executives to give them what they’re worth.

Before ‘Friends’

A young Cox onstage with the musician a decade before she became a star on ‘Friends’

Before being cast on the NBC show, the six actors and actresses came from a variety of backgrounds in the entertainment world. Prior to the 1994 debut of ‘Friends’, Courtney Cox, who played Monica Geller, was primarily known for her appearance in a Bruce Springsteen music video and a role on ‘Family Ties’.

Meanwhile, her soon-to-be on-screen best friend Jenifer Aniston, aka Rachel Green, just appeared in ‘Leprechaun’, a 1993 horror comedy movie. At the time, Lisa Kudrow was busy starring as Ursula Buffay on ‘Mad About You‘.

As for the guys, it seems like Matt LeBlanc and Cox has their music video appearances in common. Matthew Perry, on the other hand, has only nabbed a few guest spots and recurring roles. Similarly, David Schwimmer has about the same experience with the addition of his role on ‘NYPD Blue’.

Everybody’s Big Break

The on-screen love team reportedly offered to take a pay cut to convince executives to raise the main cast’s salary and for them to be paid equally

Being relative unknowns, the cast was initially paid just about $22,500 for every episode during the show’s first season. They were then given a raise for the second one when they received $40,000 per episode. Making the calculations, it seems like each of them took home about $540,000 and $960,000 respectively during those initial seasons.

Come the next one, the show’s six stars have banded together to negotiate their salary as a group. This is said to be the first time a cast has done such a thing. Their efforts paid off in the end when they managed to strike a deal for $75,000 per episode.

Safe to say, the show’s popularity made instant stars out of its main cast of actresses and actors. It may even be said that their ‘Friends’ role is all six of them’s breakout role.

Negotiating a Massive Raise

The main cast all together again during a 2016 event. They are joined in the photo by James Burrows, a director

With their joint efforts proving to be effective, the six of them were eventually able to negotiate a whopping $1 million per episode deal for the show’s 10th season. That means each of them earned about $18 million for the finale season alone. In total, it’s estimated that the cast was paid a total of $90 million throughout the show’s ten-year run.

But that’s only the beginning, they earn much more from the show’s royalties having negotiated to be given a share of its syndication profits. Not bad for a breakout role, eh?

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