One recent Saturday morning at an unprepossessing roadside diner in the hills above Malibu, three men are gathered around a small, rickety corner table sharing a low-key late breakfast. As first impressions go, they make for a rather glum-looking triumvirate, hunched over plates of Danish pastries and nursing half-empty mugs of coffee. Dressed down in jeans and T-shirts, they are marked out only by the arrival at their table of a procession of nervous fellow diners bearing paper napkins for the three men to sign.
Indeed, were it not for the presence of these impromptu autograph-hunters, the casual observer would be forgiven for thinking they were watching a scene from the fictional Central Perk coffee shop, made famous in the much-loved sitcom Friends. On this occasion, however, the show’s three male stars, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry, are very much off-duty. They are meeting for one of their male-bonding sessions that have become a semi-regular fixture since the series ended nearly six years ago.
Matt LeBlanc, who was an out-of-work actor with less than ten dollars to his name when he first landed his role as the womanising Joey in 1994, has become something of a reclusive figure. One leading American casting director told this week: ‘Matt’s career is flatlining. It might seem like he’s lowering himself to take a new cable series, but it’s a case of needs-must to try to keep his profile up. The simple fact is, he’s just not getting offered good parts.’
But he has not been alone in suffering what has become known in Hollywood as ‘The Curse of Friends’. Matthew Perry, who played uptight Chandler Bing, has also seen his career flounder. Perry’s attempts at a film career have been equally disappointing. He starred as a chronically depressed film writer in the quickly forgotten movie Numb, which was mauled by critics and flopped at the box office. It was a role that required precious little dramatic invention from 40-year-old Perry.
He has admitted to suffering from depression, and has said he locked himself away for days on end in his Hollywood Hills home to escape the pressure of fame. He has also fought a long battle with addictions to drink and prescription drugs. His latest film role, in last year’s 17 Again, saw him playing second fiddle to High School Musical heart-throb Zac Efron.
Perry’s co-star David Schwimmer, who played the paleontologist Ross Geller in Friends, has previously resisted attempts to reunite the cast on the big screen. He has spent the past six years working with his own small theatre group, the Looking-glass Theatre Company, in Chicago and has been trying to launch a career as a movie director. But he has had only limited success. Last year, 43-year-old Schwimmer admitted he has gone back to auditioning for Hollywood parts, but has been turned down for a series of top roles.
Like his female co-stars, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow, Schwimmer is said to have come around to the idea of making a movie version of the hit series, following the success of the big screen adaptation of Sex And The City.
However, none of the former Friends – who are said to have negotiated £10million each with Warner Bros to reform on screen – would end up completely penniless if the film were not made.
Nonetheless, the Friends in need will be hoping that their upcoming screen reunion revives their flagging Hollywood careers.
unprepossessing – ellenszenves, visszataszító
rickety – rozoga
low-key – visszafogott, mérsékelt
glum-looking – rosszkedv?nek, morcosnak kinéz?
procession – folyamat
napkin – szalvéta
impromptu – rögtönzött
casual observer – alkalmi szemlél?d?
off-duty – szolgálaton kívüli (nem alkalmazott)
male-bonding – fériakat összefogó
semi-regular – rendszertelen, félig rendszeres
womanising – csajozó, n?k után futó
reclusive figure – (világtól) visszavonult alak
needs-must – szükségszer?
uptight – feszült
flounder (career) – botladozó, bukdácsoló (karrier)
second fiddle – másodheged?s
nonetheless – mindazonáltal, azonban (=nevertheless)