At the movies · Trivia

The 10 Oscar-winning “Friends” actors

This time last year we were regular viewers of the US sitcom “Friends”, 25 years after it was first broadcast. I wrote about it from time to time, first of all here, and later in pieces like this one about the word “Hibachi”.

While we were working through all 10 series, I noticed that many of the guest appearances were by people who have won Academy Awards (Oscars) for acting. I made a list, in my head at first, and then scribbled it down somewhere. I came up with six or seven names, including someone who had only won his Oscar in 2018.

I then did a search and found a piece on the Comedy Central website (link below) which listed all the actors up to 2016 who had won Oscars. The 11 names included one actor who has won a Best Feature Documentary award, one has won for Best Adapted Screenplay and two whose credits as producers won them Best Picture Oscars. One of the latter had also won an acting award. As a result of last week’s Oscars ceremony there are now exactly 10 people who appeared in “Friends” and have won at least one Academy Award for acting.

If your knowledge of the Academy Awards and “Friends” is wide enough you might want to test yourself: see how many of these Oscar-winners you can name. If so, look away now because the names appear further down on this page. When you are ready, read on.

Before I give you the list of performers, here are a few hints.

First of all, none of the actors with more than five appearances in the show has yet won an Oscar, so none of the six principal characters, or their parents, or any of the people they marry during the course of the show’s 10 series are in this list. Some of these characters are played by actors who have had notable film careers, for example Elliot Gould (who plays Ross and Monica’s father), Kathleen Turner (quite a performance as Chandler’s father) and Paul Rudd (who plays Mike, Phoebe’s eventual husband). Other people who appear in “Friends” and have yet to win an Academy Award include Winona Ryder, Bruce Willis, Isabella Rossellini and Jason Alexander (who was already an award-winning theatre actor before playing George Costanza in “Seinfeld”).

Here’s a link to the Comedy Central website that lists the Oscar-winners up to 2016. Of the two who won a Best Picture award for their role as a producer, one had already won a Best Supporting Actor award, and the other was named as Best Supporting Actor earlier this month. There is one name missing from the list, the winner of the Best Actor award for films released in 2017. The names in the Comedy Central list are in order of their appearance in the show. My list, which follows, is in order of when they won their first Academy Award. A few final clues in case you’re still trying to think of names: there are no Best Supporting Actress winners here but there are three Best Actor winners, four women who won Best Actress and three winners of Best Supporting Actor.

The Winners

Charlton Heston

Best Actor 1959 for “Ben-Hur”

Series 4 Episode 14, “The One With Joey’s Dirty Day”

Susan Sarandon

Best Actress 1994 for “Dead Man Walking”

Series 7 Episode 15, “The One with Joey’s New Brain”

Helen Hunt

Best Actress 1997 for “As Good As It Gets”

Series 1 Episode 16, “The One with Two Parts: Part 1”

Robin Williams

Best Supporting Actor 1997 for “Good Will Hunting”

Series 3 Episode 24, “The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion”

Julia Roberts

Best Actress 2000 for “Erin Brockovich”

Series 2 Episode 13, “The One After the Superbowl: Part 2”

Sean Penn

Best Actor 2003 for “Mystic River” and 2008 for “Milk”

Series 8, Episode 6, “The One with the Halloween Party”

Series 8, Episode 7, “The One with the Stain”

Reese Witherspoon

Best Actress 2005 for “Walk The Line”

Series 6 Episode 13, “The One with Rachel’s Sister”

Series 6 Episode 14, “The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry”

George Clooney

Best Supporting Actor 2005 for “Syriana”

Series 1 Episode 16, “The One with Two Parts: Part 1”

Series 1 Episode 17, “The One with Two Parts: Part 2”

Gary Oldman

Best Actor 2017 for “Darkest Hour”

Series 7 Episode 23, “The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding: Part 1”

Series 7 Episode 24, “The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding: Part 2”

Brad Pitt

Best Supporting Actor 2019 for “Once upon a time in Hollywood”

Series 8, Episode 9, “The One with the Rumour”

For the record, here are the two other Oscar winners, with text taken from the Comedy Central website.

Fisher Stevens

In: The One With the Boobies, S1E13

Won: Best Feature Documentary, The Cove (2009) (as producer)

Jim Rash

In: The Last One, S10E17-18

Won: Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, The Descendants (2011)


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