The Friends cast famously raised the bar for salary appraisals over the course of the noughties sitcom, as the six stars negotiated together to eventually score a payday of $1 million per episode each.
However, Friends cast pay packets weren’t always equal according to Jennifer Aniston, who revealed there was an initial pay gap within the group.
Speaking to Radio Times to promote her upcoming role on The Morning Show, Aniston said, “I’m aware that I have had a pretty easy time in terms of my experience in the business. But even back on Friends, it wasn’t so much about women being paid the same as men - some of the women were being paid more.”
According to The Guardian, the Friends cast began negotiating their contracts as a group from season three onwards to ensure they were earning the same amount. While they were initially paid $22,500 per episode in season one, according to People Jennifer Aniston and her co-star David Schwimmer began earning more than their colleagues in season two.
The gap between Aniston, Schwimmer and the rest of the group including Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc was a sticking point for the entire group. Eventually, it led the cast to renegotiate for equal pay with a 1996 New York Times report claiming the stars even threatened “not to show up for the taping of the new season’s shows”.
Aniston continued, “[The negotiatons were] more about, ‘We’re doing equal work and we all deserve to be compensated in the same way.’ I wouldn’t feel good going to work knowing someone was getting x amount and I was getting something greater.”
Eventually, People reported that Aniston and Schwimmer took a pay cut in order to make sure everyone was given the same amount. By the time season three rolled around, the cast members were reportedly paid $75,000 per episode - eventually they landed $1 million per episode for seasons 9 and 10.
Aniston said that “it would have been fun” to reunite for a Friends reboot, but explained, “Our producers wouldn’t want it, wouldn’t let us. Look, it’s not been without our desire to, because our fans have wanted it so much... But would we have loved to do something together? Yeah.”
Matt LeBlanc spoke about their record-breaking salaries in an interview with HuffPost Live in 2015, 11 years after the sitcom ended. He said, “Were we worth $1 million? To me, that’s such a strange question.”
“It’s like, well, that’s irrelevant. Are you worth it? How do you put a price on how funny something is? We were in a position to get it. If you’re in a position in any job, no matter what the job is — if you’re driving a milk truck or installing TVs or an upholsterer for a couch — if you’re in a position to get a raise and you don’t get it, you’re stupid. You know what I mean? We were in a position and we were able to pull it off. ‘Worth it’ has nothing to do with it,” he continued.
Jennifer Aniston will be returning to television with her upcoming series The Morning Show, which will see her play a news anchor at a network reeling from allegations levelled against her character's colleague.
She is also a producer on the series, alongside her co-star and fellow producer Reese Witherspoon (who actually starred as her sister on Friends), and the show is set to launch on Apple TV on November 1.