Former Friends guest star Lauren Tom says she wasn’t exactly welcomed by fans of the NBC sitcom when her character was introduced in 1995. Tom played Julie, a paleontologist whom Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) began dating just as Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) decided she was ready to tell him how she felt about him.
Tom made her debut on Friends in Season 2 in the episode, “The One Where Rachel Finds Out,” and appeared in a total of seven episodes of the Emmy-winning comedy from 1995 to 1996. But the now-57-year-old actress told the Today show that fans rooting for Ross and Rachel to get together did not like how her character got in the way, and live studio audience members let her know it in a brutal way.
“The fans were rabid. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of venom I was about to receive in a live audience where they actually booed my character.’ “And, of course, I was trying very hard not to get my feelings hurt. So I had to get used to that.”
Tom admitted that while her character Julie was “the nicest person on the planet,” even she was “rooting” for Ross and Rachel.
“Emotionally, my body didn’t understand that when I heard the booing. So that was tough,” she added.
Friends fans know that Ross and Rachel did end up together, despite a “break” here and there. The on-and-off TV couple ultimately had a baby together, a daughter named Emma, before the show ended its 10-season run.
According to People, Jennifer Aniston recently told Today’s Natalie Morales that she believes Rachel Green and Ross Geller would “absolutely” still be together today.
Although the audience didn’t like her character, Lauren Tom said all of the Friends cast members— Aniston, Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow—were “so welcoming” to her during her seven-episode stint on the show.
Still, not every Friends guest star felt the love by the cast. HuffPost notes that actress Kathleen Turner once recalled the “unwelcoming” atmosphere on the Friends set and the “cliquey” core cast when she guest starred as Chandler’s dad for three episodes in 2001.
In addition, Alexandra Holden, who played Ross’ student-turned-girlfriend Elizabeth, accused producers of giving her some disturbing advice ahead of her audition for the recurring guest role.
“I got called in to do a ‘chemistry read’ with David Schwimmer,” Holden told The Guardian. “It was terrifying because the producers told me to come in looking ‘as hot as possible.’ I didn’t know what to do with that information. It sent me into a tailspin… Now that I’m older, I wouldn’t be happy getting that message.”
Alexandra Holden appeared as Ross’s much younger girlfriend in five episodes during Friends’ sixth season.
You can see Lauren Tom’s debut as Julie on Friends in the video below.