Friends Reunion director explains absence of Paul Rudd and Cole Sprouse from special

In the special episode of the Friends reunion, fans went wild as they relive the days of Central Perk and the purple apartment. While fans around the world are still in awe of the six friends, there’s no denying that other supporting characters also gathered a large fan base during the show’s run and thus were missed on the unscripted special. Paul Rudd, who played Mike Hannigan, and Cole Sprouse, who played Ross’s son Ben Geller, are two of the most prominent faces missed in the special episode.

Director of the special reunion episode Ben Winston spoke to The Wrap and explained why they couldn’t have all the cameos they wanted. He said: ‘Well, we can’t have everyone on board because it’s only an hour and 45 minutes. And you have to pay attention – the main core of the show has to be about the six cast members. So you can’t have too many cameos because of course there have been hundreds of great people in Friends over the years. Unfortunately we couldn’t get everyone in.”

Winston added that they had invited other cast members as well, but due to the Covid-19 restrictions, not everyone was able to make it. “You know, we did invite some people who couldn’t make it. It’s a complicated time to make television now because some people couldn’t fly internationally, some people were on other TV or movie shoots, some people were over the moon about things,” he said.

Paul Rudd played the role of Phoebe’s husband Mike Hannigan in the American sitcom. Paul joined the series in the ninth season and his character eventually became quite important when he married Phoebe. In an earlier interview with Variety, Paul had said, “In something like Friends, the show was about them, but it’s interesting to be a part of it. I was only in it for a while. I felt, ‘I’m like a prop on this show. It’s not about Mike Hannigan.” But it’s a really interesting feeling to be part of something that has such a profound impact on pop culture.”

Paul had expressed his fandom in an interview with ET, where he said, “I’d never been part of something that had so many viewers. Everyone was really nice, but I could never quite get over being in Central Perk, and I just really didn’t want to get in the way, I knew no one was tuning in to Mike Hannigan, so I thought, ‘Oh wow, I’m just going to sit back and observe a bit and enjoy this ride.’”

Cole Sprouse, who played Ross’ son Ben Geller on the series, was also missed on the reunion special. He appeared as the character from Seasons 6-8 on the series. This was his first solo role as the Sprouse brothers – Cole and Dylan, were usually cast together. Cole recalled his days on the show and had previously shared with Today: “I’m pretty sure I fell in love with Jennifer Aniston, which the whole world had at the time. But I do remember being quite intimidated by it. I remember being blank in my lines and having a sort of stage fright when she sat next to me on the couch in one episode.

The Friends reunion special will be streamed on ZEE5.

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