‘Friends’ Guest Star Olivia Williams Finally Reveals Why Her Time on the Show Was ‘Harrowing’

The ‘Crown’ star divulged behind-the-scenes drama that’s made her apprehensive toward the show for decades
‘Friends’ Guest Star Olivia Williams Finally Reveals Why Her Time on the Show Was ‘Harrowing’

So no one told you Friends was gonna be this way?

You’d think that U.K. actress Olivia Williams would be quite accustomed to behind-the-scenes drama given that she just wrapped up her lauded performance as Queen Camilla, second wife to King Charles III and the other woman to one Princess Diana, on the hit Netflix series The Crown. However, the sordid dealings of the British King’s love life in the 1990s weren’t Williams’ first experience with nastiness and bad blood behind one of the most famous and glamorous institutions in the world — just two years after Charles divorced Diana following years of royal infidelity on both sides, Williams was wrapped up in the shocking wedding mishap between Shropshires own Miss Emily Waltham and Dr. Ross Geller on Friends, where she played Emily’s bridesmaid Felicity.

Earlier this month, Williams opened up to The Independent about her experience shooting two Friends episodes, and she alleged some abusive behavior on behalf of a producer “who shall remain nameless.” Something tells me that the correct name still isn’t Rachel.

In the past, Williams has publicly described her time on Friends as “harrowing,” though she declined to go into detail until her Independent interview. “Well, just as an example, I was taken to the studio in a shared car with a wonderful actress whose character, I think, was called ‘Old Woman,’” Williams recalled. The guest star couldn’t remember the name of the actress she sat besides, though Williams called the woman “distinguished” and “very good.” The makers of Friends disagreed. Williams said of watching the woman attempt to act, “At one point, a producer — who shall remain nameless — just yelled at her: ‘You’re not funny!’” Williams recounted, “And she didn’t come back the next day. So that was alarming.”

When she was on set herself, Williams found that the problems only escalated, saying of the production, “Friends was a brand, and you had to fit the brand. You go into hair and makeup and you’re told, ‘There’s a look here, this is what we do.’ And that involved, essentially, plucking off all of your eyebrows.” Williams recalled how she pleaded with her stylist not to make drastic, lasting changes to her face, saying of the conversation, “Literally, ‘please don’t take my eyebrows off, I might need them in another job!’” 

“But yes, that’s the sense in which it was harrowing,” Williams explained.

Though elder beratement and eyebrow annihilation certainly aren’t pleasant workplace incidents, Williams is lucky that she didn’t experience anything worse during her time on the mega-hit sitcom. After all, the makeup department caved to her demands — these are the same people who changed David Schwimmer's entire skin color


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