So, why did Phoebe Buffay end up with a twin sister in “Friends”?
Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe, spills the beans. The show “Friends” was all about the lives of six New Yorkers, including Phoebe. But it didn’t shy away from showing their family backgrounds too.
Phoebe’s family story was pretty wild – her dad left when she was young, and she later found out the woman she thought was her mom wasn’t her biological mother. She had a half-brother, Frank Jr., but after a bit, we didn’t see much of him.
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Phoebe’s twin sister, Ursula, who was kind of her opposite, was also played by Kudrow. Before “Friends,” Kudrow was Ursula, a waitress on another show called “Mad About You.”
When she got the part of Phoebe, the folks behind “Friends” had to figure out what to do about her already being on TV as Ursula since both shows aired one after the other.
On the Podcrushed podcast, Kudrow explained that because she was already playing Ursula, the “Friends” creators decided to bring her into the show as Phoebe’s twin.
“I auditioned for Friends, because I was available. I was only a recurring role on Mad About You. And I got it both on NBC. And that’s why I liked Friends. I also was going to go to the network for a show that was on Fox, and I went ’no, no, definitely the NBC show.’ And everyone seems to love it. So, that’s great. And you know, the script, and then I can still do Mad About You. Because that was my goal–was protecting Mad About You.
So, I’ve been already a recurring character on Mad About You. Then they named Ursula and I do Friends and it gets picked up and after it got picked up and they also put us on right after Mad About You. And I don’t know who spoke with who, because they were different studios, but it was decided that I still get to be a recurring character on Mad About You. And then Friends needs to address the fact that the exact same human being is on a half hour later sometimes. So I think that’s how it happened. I don’t know what the discussions were with Marta, David, and the Mad About You people.” – Kudrow said.
It was a neat solution to a quirky scheduling situation. The creators got permission from “Mad About You” to use Ursula, leading to some funny and sometimes messy storylines between the twin sisters.