Everything we know about the 'Friends' reunion special so far: filming dates, format and how much the cast will earn

Can you guess how much each cast member will earn for being in the new show?

It's the one everybody's been talking about for years: one of TV's most beloved shows will be revived for a special show on HBO Max.

After repeated delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it has now been announced that filming of the highly anticipated Friends reunion special may begin as soon as April.

The show, which starred Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc as twenty-somethings living in New York City, ended in 2004 after 10 years and 236 episodes, but it remains one of the most popular TV shows in reruns.

Take a look through the photo gallery above to see some memorable scenes from the series.

So what's this new special all about? What can we expect from Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey when they re-enter our lives after a nearly 16-year hiatus?

Here's everything we know about the Friends reunion so far.

When does filming start?

David Schwimmer, who played palaeontologist Ross Geller, this week confirmed filming will start in April.

In an interview with Andy Cohen on SiriusXM, Schwimmer offered a few more details. "In a little over a month, I'm heading out to LA," the actor said. "So, finally ... we figured out a way, I think, to film it safely and there's going to be a portion of it that we film outside because of, you know, safety protocols."

The special was scheduled to be filmed in May 2020, but was delayed because of the pandemic.

What is it about?

This will not be another 22- to 23-minute episode about the trials and tribulations of the show's six characters. In fact, the stars won't even be in character and instead the one-off unscripted special will be in a talk show format.

Kudrow, who played musician and masseuse Phoebe Buffay, previously shared more details with Rob Lowe during an episode of his podcast, Literally! With Rob Lowe.

"It is not a reboot, it is not like a scripted thing, we are not portraying our characters," she said.

FRIENDS -- "The One After the Superbowl" (Part 1) Episode 12 -- Pictured: (l-r) Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay (Photo by Brian D. McLaughlin/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** op03de-tv-kudrow.jpg
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay. Getty Images

"It is us getting together, which just doesn't happen and has never happened in front of other people since 2004 when we stopped."

She confirmed the six actors would be "talking in a coffee house room" and that "some sets will be up".

Is there more to it than that?

Apparently so, but those involved are keeping a few details under wraps.

Kudrow told Lowe that they've even pre-shot some scenes.

"There's different facets to it, and we already shot packages of things," the Feel Good actress said. "I pre-shot something already so we're definitely doing it, because I already shot a little something."

In January, Kudrow told Digital Spy "there are other things in it; things I shouldn’t really talk about because they should be good.”

Will it take place in front of a studio audience?

No new information has come out about that, but Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman told ET in August that she wanted to wait to film until a studio audience could be involved.

"We all want it to happen," she told the publication. "We just have to wait until it is safe. This is a show that is not scripted, but this is the way the show works – we are going to need a live audience. Even if we socially distance that live audience, it really is a huge part of what Friends is... We cannot do it without them," she said. "Everyone is all in and we are just waiting for that time when it feels connected to bring in a live audience."

When 'Friends' first aired, the cast were previously unknown actors. NBC via Getty Images
When 'Friends' first showed on television, the cast were unknown actors. NBC via Getty Images

Former WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt also told Variety in May 2020 that they still planned on taping in front of a live studio audience on the original soundstage in Burbank, California.

"We do think there's a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together," he said. "And we didn't want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms."

Who will be hosting the show?

In his SiriusXM interview, Schwimmer didn't quite share who would be hosting the talk show-style special, but he did say who wouldn't be.

“I don't know if I can say, actually," the American Crime Story actor said. "I should have found that out. I apologise. I can tell you it's not Ellen [DeGeneres], it's not Billy Crystal. Andy, is it you?" To which the host replied: "Oh, my God, I wish it was!"

The actual host remains a mystery.

Who else is involved?

Of course we've got all the original main Friends cast involved, but show creators Kevin Bright, Kauffman and David Crane are also executive producing.

The principle Friends cast from left, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Cook, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay. Photo by Warner Bros Television
The show ran for 10 years and 236 episodes. Photo by Warner Bros Television

Ben Winston, who has worked on The Late Late Show with James Corden and the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special, will be directing the show.

How much are the cast getting paid?

When the show was first announced, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the cast, who all negotiated together, will earn more than double their former per-episode fee for the reunion. That's between $2.5 million and $3m.

Back when the original show was being shot, the cast famously renegotiated their salaries together to earn $1m per episode.

Will it be worth the wait?

Anniston certainly thinks so. "It’s going to be super," she told Deadline in August. "You know what? The delay has also given us more time to make it even more exciting and more fun than it would have been. So I choose to see it as the glass is half-full that it got postponed.

"Look, we’re not going anywhere. You’re never going to get rid of Friends, sorry. You’re stuck with us for life, guys.”

Updated: March 7, 2021 01:37 PM

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