The following article contains allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault.
While NBC’s “Friends” has been known for its fair share of guest stars over the years, it’s also caught the attention of fans lately because of some fascinating behind-the-scenes information. This was most prominent at the so-called “Friends Reunion” in 2021, when several of the show’s six leads made a series of notable revelations, including that David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston, who played the legendary Ross and Rachel, were real-life in each other crush that Matthew Perry, who played the sardonic and sarcastic Chandler Bing, felt like he was “dying” if audiences didn’t laugh at him, and that Katie, the Capuchin who played Ross’ monkey Marcel, was incredibly difficult to work with.
There have also been other fairly serious revelations about the show and its production that have stayed more under the radar. That includes some intriguing explanations about one of the show’s worst guest stars, as revealed by multiple producers – and the answer is probably one you wouldn’t expect.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was “unprepared and arrogant” on set.
Jean-Claude Van Damme made his cameo appearance on Friends in the 1996 season two episode entitled The One After the Superbowl (which also happened to be the show’s most watched episode of all time). In the episode, Van Damme played himself, the object of Monica and Rachel’s affections after they met him on the set of one of his films. However, they realize he’s an “idiot” after first flirting with Rachel instead of Monica and then deciding to go on a blind date with Monica just because he believed she had agreed to a threesome with Drew Barrymore.
As it turns out, Van Damme wasn’t much different off-screen than he was on-screen. In 2021, several “Friends” producers revealed that Van Damme made working on the set very difficult, according to the Hollywood Reporter. For one, he arrived on set several hours late and then snapped at the producers when they asked him if he had any questions. Former NBC executive Warren Littlefield compared him to the Capuchin who played Marcel and said it would be appropriate to ask, “Who is harder to work with, him or the monkey?”
Michael Lembeck, who directed the two-part episode, called him “unprepared and arrogant,” while creator and executive producer David Crane said the version of himself he played in the episode “wasn’t necessarily different from what he was in Reality. Life.” This was made even clearer when he found out about his behavior towards his female co-stars.
Jean-Claude Van Damme made his co-stars uncomfortable during kissing scenes
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Friends executive producer Kevin Bright and director Michael Lembeck made some disturbing revelations about how Jean-Claude Van Damme behaved on set during his guest appearance.
Apparently, Jennifer Aniston approached Lembeck during filming and asked him to ask Van Damme “not to put his tongue in my mouth when he kisses me.” Lembeck did so, only for Courteney Cox to come to him shortly after and demand the same. “I could not believe it!” Lembeck remembers. “I had to tell him again, but a little more firmly.” Bright said they had to ask him to stop using his tongue “several times”.
These aren’t the first disturbing allegations against Van Damme. In 1993, the actor faced a lawsuit from another female actress who alleged that he conspired to set a “sexual trap” for her on the set of a film and forced himself on her while two other employees of his looked on. Van Damme said at the time the allegation was “completely unfounded”. Then, in 1997, per E! News, his wife Darcy LaPier, who was in the process of divorcing him, accused him of serious physical abuse. According to the divorce papers, Van Damme was a cocaine addict and regularly hit her — even to the point of hospitalization, leading to her being “too scared” about her safety to stay with him.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, help is available to help. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact the RAINN National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also visit their website for more information, resources, and support.