David Schwimmer rose to fame after he was cast as Ross Geller in the 90s television series Friends, and although the comedy gave him his start, he admits there were dark sides associated with playing the same character for 10 years.
Schwimmer recently sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to record an episode of the Awards Chatter podcast where he spoke about his iconic role. Friends first aired in 1994 and instantly gained a huge following, with 52 million viewers at its peak. Schwimmer went from a struggling actor, who was working as a waiter, to an overnight celebrity — something that he wasn’t sure he was ready for.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 18, 2016
“It was pretty jarring and it messed with my relationship to other people in a way that took years, I think, for me to adjust to and become comfortable with,” he told THR. “As an actor, the way I was trained, my job was to observe life and to observe other people, so I used to walk around with my head up, really engaged and watching people.”
He added: “The effect of celebrity was the absolute opposite: It made me want to hide under a baseball cap and not be seen. And I realized after a while that I was no longer watching people; I was trying to hide. So I was trying to figure out: How do I be an actor in this new world, in this new situation? How do I do my job? That was tricky.”
RELATED REPORTS BY THE INQUISITR
It didn’t take long for David to realize being a television actor was much different from being on the big screen. Movie actors have one role and then they move on. However, on a television series, actors play the same character for years, and that character becomes part of their identity.
“There’s less of a barrier than there is with, say, a big movie star — you see them in this other kind of a space with a lot of other people on a big screen and you see that their role changes in every movie, for the most part,” he said. “They’re very different people in very different situations, whereas in our show I’m the same guy for 10 years, you can rely on me to be a certain way and you know me — or you think you know me.”
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) August 17, 2016
Friends came to an end in 2004 after 10 seasons. Fans had come to know and love each of the characters, including Schwimmer, which is why he was very hesitant to take on another role in a series. He knew it would never match the role he had played for the past decade.
Schwimmer is just now making his comeback to television with FX’s limited series The People v. O.J. Simpson, in which he will play Simpson’s friend attorney Robert Kardashian. All it took was for the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, to offer his reassurance for David to agree to the role. The series has now received 22 Emmy nominations. For his role as Robert Kardashian, Schwimmer received his second Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or TV movie.
[Photo by Anthony Harvey/Stringer/Getty Images]