20 Future Stars Who Appeared on Friends

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Getty Images

Friends launched the careers of its six stars—who were each making $1 million an episode by the final seasons—and welcomed a slew of A-list guests. But there were also a bunch of now-familiar faces who appeared in small roles before making it big.

1. Craig Robinson – Clerk in “The One With Princess Consuela”  (February 26, 2004)

On Friends: He plays a store clerk in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment from Friends’s final season.

Since Friends: After a string of similarly small parts, Robinson got his big break as warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin on The Office. He’s also been a hit in Hollywood, where he’s starred in a string of comedies including Hot Tub Time Machine and Pineapple Express.

2. Jim Rash – Nervous Airplane passenger in “The Last One”  (May 6, 2004)

On Friends: He sat next to Rachel in the very last episode and got increasingly agitated about the left phalange. Who wouldn’t?

Since Friends: A familiar face on the small screen, Rash really came into his own after he landed the role as the fancy-dress obsessed Dean in Community. He also has achieved success behind the camera, taking home the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants.

3. Mae Whitman – Sarah Tuttle in “The One Where Rachel Quits”  (December 12, 1996)

On Friends: Whitman plays Brown Bird Sarah Tuttle, who enlists the help of Ross to sell cookies after the hapless paleontologist accidentally breaks her leg.

Since Friends: Whitman has continued to make couch potatoes chortle with her turn as the anodyne Ann Veal on Arrested Development and most recently as Amber Holt on NBC’s Parenthood.

4. Ellen Pompeo – Missy Goldberg in “The One Where The Stripper Cries”  (February 5, 2004)

On Friends: She plays Missy Goldberg, the object of Chandler and Ross’s affection in a flashback to their college years.

Since Friends: Friends was one of Pompeo’s earliest roles. These days the actress is a familiar face thanks to her Golden Globe-winning turn on another broadcast behemoth, Grey’s Anatomy.

5. Scott Adsit – The Director in “The One With Ross and Monica’s Cousin” (April 19, 2001)

On Friends: He plays an up-and-coming director who auditions Joey for his new film. The audition predictably goes awry, however, thanks to some Silly Putty and a scene that calls for full frontal nudity. 

Since Friends: He stayed on at NBC where he played executive producer Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock.

6. Anna Faris – Erica in “The One With The Birth Mother” (January 8, 2004)

On Friends: She was the mother who decided to give Monica and Chandler her baby during Friends's final season.

Since Friends: Faris was already something of a big deal when she popped up on Friends, having made appearances in Scary Movie and White Chicks. But it was post-Friends that her career really flourished. She's currently starring in Mom on CBS.

7. Dan Bucatinsky – The Waiter in “The One With Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner” (October 31, 2002)

On Friends: He plays a disgruntled waiter who’s forced to work around Phoebe’s predictably chaotic birthday dinner.

Since Friends: Bucantinsky has gone from strength to strength since his bit part on the smash hit sitcom. He’s perhaps most famous for his Emmy Award-winning performance as James Novak on Scandal. But did you know he’s kept the Friends connection alive by working alongside fellow alumnus Lisa Kudrow as a producer on the improv web series Web Therapy?

8. Dakota Fanning – Mackenzie in “The One With Princess Consuela” (February 26, 2004)

On Friends: She hands out advice to Joey who’s struggling to come to terms with Monica and Chandler moving to the 'burbs.

Since Friends: Fanning has had quite the film career. She worked with Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise on War of the Worlds, Neil Gaiman on Coraline, and even found time to pop up in the Twilight Saga.

9. Mark Consuelos – Policeman in “The One With Chandler’s Dad” (May 10, 2001)

On Friends: He plays the officer who pulls Rachel over after she’s caught speeding in Monica’s Porsche.

Since Friends: Though he was best known for his recurring role on All My Children, Consuelos’s Friends cameo led him to new pastures, including movie roles in films like Cop Out and My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

10. T.J. Thyne – Dr. Oberman in “The One Hundredth”  (October 8, 1998)

On Friends: He plays Dr. Oberman, a first-year medical resident with no strong feelings toward Fonzie or any of the Happy Days gang.

Since Friends: He’s appeared on a smorgasbord of small-screen hits from 24 to The O.C., but Thyne is perhaps most recognizable as Bones’s sardonic Dr. Jack Hodgins.

11. Willie Garson – Steve in “The One Where The Girl Hits Joey”  (February 18, 1999)

On Friends: He plays the president of the tenants committee who falls out with Ross after he refuses to chip in $100 for the retiring handyman at his new apartment complex.

Since Friends: Garson is best known for playing Carrie’s friend in Sex and the City.

12. Cole Sprouse – Ben Geller in “The One With The Holiday Armadillo” (December 14, 2000)

On Friends: Several actors played Ross’s son, Ben, but Cole Sprouse is perhaps the most memorable—if only for showcasing why Rachel should never be left alone with children.

Since Friends: Cole has a twin named Dylan (who didn’t appear on Friends) and the duo went on to become a big deal in Disney’s smash hit series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its subsequent spinoffs.

13. Melora Hardin – Celia in “The One With The Stoned Guy”  (February 16, 1995)

On Friends: Hardin played one of Ross’s many exes, a colleague who gets attacked by Marcel but still wants the prudish paleontologist to talk dirty to her.

Since Friends: Recurring roles on Monk and as Jan on The Office have helped make Hardin a familiar face. She’s also a talented musician and sang the national anthem before two NHL games in 2010.

14. Emily Osment – Lelani Mayolanofavich in “The One with the Halloween Party” (November 1, 2001)

On Friends: She plays a trick-or-treater who gets a check from Rachel in lieu of candy.

Since Friends: Osment found fame after appearing in two of the hit Spy Kids sequels before landing a recurring role alongside Miley Cyrus in Disney’s Hannah Montana. She’s currently the star of ABC comedy Young and Hungry.

15. Paget Brewster – Kathy in “The One With Joey’s New Girlfriend” (October 30, 1997)

On Friends: She played Kathy, the woman at the point of a love triangle between Joey and Chandler.

Since Friends: Brewster stayed on the schedules, clocking in her most on-screen hours as Supervisory Special Agent Emily Prentiss on CBS’s Criminal Minds. She’s also continued to make guest appearances on comedies like Modern Family and Community.

16. Christine Taylor – Bonnie in “The One With The Jellyfish”  (September 25, 1997)

On Friends: She was Phoebe’s friend who was supposed to be bald and crazy but turned out to be blonde and hot. She dated Ross until Rachel’s meddling led to their split.

Since Friends: She’s starred in hits including Zoolander and Dodgeball. In 2000 she married Ben Stiller.

17. Leah Remini – Lydia in “The One With The Birth” (May 11, 1995)

On Friends: A few years after playing Stacey Carosi on the Malibu Sands episodes of Saved by the Bell, Remini was a sassy mother-to-be who argues about sports with Joey—who steps in as an impromptu birth-coach when she goes into labor.

Since Friends: She starred on The King of Queens and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars, The Talk, and a TLC reality show about her family.

18. Kristin Davis – Erin in “The One With Ross's Library Book”  (November 16, 2000)

On Friends: She breaks Joey’s heart.

Since Friends: By the time this episode aired, she was making a name for herself as Sex and the City’s resident prude, Charlotte.

19. Rebecca Romijn – Cheryl in “The One With The Dirty Girl”  (November 6, 1997)

On Friends: She’s the titular “dirty girl” in this episode in which her relationship with Ross is doomed after he objects to the cleanliness of her apartment.

Since Friends: She’s most famous for her role as shape-shifting siren Mystique in the X-Men movies, though you probably wouldn’t be able to recognize her under all of the blue makeup.

20. Steve Zahn – Duncan in “The One With Phoebe’s Husband”  (October 12, 1995)

On Friends: He plays Duncan, a gay Canadian ice dancer that Phoebe married in order to get him a green card.

Since Friends: After finding fame on Friends, Zahn went on to star in a string of mid-'90s hits such as That Thing You Do and You’ve Got Mail. Most recently, however, Zahn’s been plying his trade back on the small screen with a character role in Treme and a starring turn alongside Christian Slater in ABC’s Mind Games.  

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Rewind Time With This Blockbuster-Themed Party Game

Recapture that '90s vibe with this Blockbuster-themed movie trivia game.
Recapture that '90s vibe with this Blockbuster-themed movie trivia game.
Big Potato Games/Hot Topic

With only one Blockbuster location left in the world, the good old days of wandering video rental store aisles and getting chewed out for late fees are definitely a thing of the past—but like so many relics from the '90s, the pull of nostalgia has ensured that Blockbuster (or at least the brand) won't disappear for good. Now the video store is back in the form of a party game from Big Potato Games that is designed to test the movie knowledge of you and up to 11 friends.

Marketing itself as “a movie game for anyone who has ever seen a movie,” the Blockbuster party game consists of two parts. In part one, players from each team compete head-to-head to name as many movies as they can that fit under specific categories (e.g., movies with Tom Cruise, famous trilogies, movies with planes). In the second half, two teams face off against each other to test their skills at a game of movie-related charades. The catch? Players can only describe movies in one of three randomly chosen ways: acting out scenes, rattling off a famous quote, or describing the films with one word.

The real selling point of the whole package is that Big Potato fit all the game cards and buzzer into a box that is virtually identical to the old-school Blockbuster VHS rental cases, right down to its distinct color scheme and shape. All it's missing is the membership card. 

The Blockbuster board game costs $24 at Hot Topic. That’s a fair price for getting the chance to rewind time.

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15 Clever Breaking Bad Easter Eggs Hiding in Better Call Saul

Patrick Fabian, Rhea Seehorn, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Michael Mando, Giancarlo Esposito, and Tony Dalton in Better Call Saul.
Patrick Fabian, Rhea Seehorn, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Michael Mando, Giancarlo Esposito, and Tony Dalton in Better Call Saul.
James Minchin/AMC

As evidenced by Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan and his cohorts have an eye for detail that’s nearly unrivaled. If anything, Better Call Saul—which is originally set several years before the events of Breaking Bad—only proves the point. The series, which is about to kick off its fifth season, focuses on Jimmy McGill (soon to become Saul Goodman) and is full of references to its progenitor, some of which are pure fun, and some of which add a deeper meaning to what we already know. Here are 15 clever Breaking Bad Easter eggs hiding in Better Call Saul.

**Warning: Plenty of spoilers ahead for both series.**

1. Being Kevin Costner

In a throwaway moment in Breaking Bad, Saul mentions to Walt that he once convinced a woman he was Kevin Costner (“If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work”), and in the finale of the first season of Better Call Saul, we see the exact moment he was referring to. In case we thought that Saul was just making the story up for the sake of a pep talk, here’s the proof otherwise.

2. Neighborhood mainstay

If the diner where Jimmy first meets with the Kettlemans looked familiar to you, it’s for good reason. Loyola’s Diner featured in Breaking Bad as a mainstay of Mike’s—he met with Jesse there, as well as Lydia. It’s also, incidentally, a very real restaurant in Albuquerque. And while we’re on the subject of Mike and food, he’s been shown to be fond of pimento cheese sandwiches in both series.

3. Address unknown

David Costabile as Gale Boetticher in 'Breaking Bad'
Ursula Coyote, AMC

In Better Call Saul, it’s shown that Jimmy's office is at 160 Juan Tabo Boulevard (which is a real nail salon). Those of you with a head for directions might also recall that that’s the same street that the ill-fated chemist Gale Boetticher lives on, at 6353 Juan Tabo Boulevard. Breaking Bad fans were thrilled when the karaoke-loving chemist appeared in Season 4 of Better Call Saul (with hopefully more to come).

4. The Ignacio connection

Michael Mando as Nacho Varga in Better Call Saul
Michael Mando as Nacho Varga in Better Call Saul.
Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

When he’s kidnapped by Walt and Jesse after refusing to help a busted Badger, Saul spits out a variety of nonsense in an attempt to stay alive. He also drops a name: Ignacio. So who is he talking about? As we learn in Better Call Saul, this refers to Nacho, who’s become one of the secondary leads on the show. “Nacho” is a nickname, short for Ignacio, which makes sense as a connection given how closely he’s been working with Jimmy/Saul.

5. Cheap tricks

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in 'Better Call Saul'
Michele K. Short, AMC/Sony Pictures

There’s another callback to the first time that Walt, Jesse, and Saul meet. Despite still having his hands tied behind his back, when Saul agrees to help Walt and Jesse, he tells them to each put a dollar in his pocket in order to secure attorney-client privilege. It seems that Saul got that idea from Kim, who, when she decides to help Jimmy after discovering he’s falsified evidence, tells him to give her a dollar for exactly the same reason.

6. Old afflictions

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and Mel Rodriguez as Marco Pasternak in 'Better Call Saul'
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and Mel Rodriguez as Marco Pasternak in Better Call Saul.
Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

In yet another reference to that fateful first meeting, we learn that Saul isn’t bluffing when he tells Walt and Jesse that he has bad knees. He says the same thing when cops apprehend him in the first season of Better Call Saul. As to why he’s got bad knees to begin with, it all comes from his time as “Slippin’ Jimmy,” when he used to stage falls in order to earn a little bit of money.

7. Car talk

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in 'Breaking Bad'
Ursula Coyote, AMC

Saul Goodman drives a white 1997 Cadillac DeVille with the vanity plate “LWYRUP.” Jimmy McGill’s ride is much more modest: a yellow Suzuki Esteem with a red door. That said, in the pilot of Better Call Saul, we very briefly see a white Cadillac DeVille—Jimmy parks his car next to it, in a truly blink-and-you-miss-it allusion to what’s to come. (Gus, notably, is driving the same blue Volvo in both shows.)

8. Home sweet home

In Better Call Saul, one of the retirement homes that Jimmy visits in his quest to find new clients for his growing elder law business is Casa Tranquila. If it sounds familiar, that's because it's a key location in Breaking Bad as the home of Hector Salamanca, and the place where he kills his longtime nemesis Gus Fring. It’s a nice touch to revisit the location, especially given the fact that Better Call Saul gives us the story as to how Hector wound up in a wheelchair in the first place.

9. What's your poison?

There’s also a nice bit of brand continuity with the made-up tequila Zafiro Añejo. Gus poisons a bottle to get back at Don Eladio in Breaking Bad, and we see the same blue bottle pop up in Better Call Saul when Jimmy and Kim scam a cocky stock broker named Ken. Ken, for his part, seems to be reaping a constant stream of bad karma, as he’s also in Breaking Bad as a victim of Heisenberg’s wrath. He swipes Walt’s parking spot—and has his car set on fire for his trouble.

10. The little piggy

Though Mike is hard as nails, he’s got a soft spot the size of Texas for his granddaughter Kaylee. He gifts her a pink pig plush in Better Call Saul, which crops up again in Breaking Bad under slightly less cute circumstances. He uses the doll as a distraction when an assassination attempt is made on his life.

11. Word games

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in 'Breaking Bad'
Ursula Coyote, AMC

The first letters of the episode titles of the second season of Better Call Saul are an anagram for “FRING’S BACK.” It’s a granular sort of trick that the creators have pulled off before: four of the episodes of season two of Breaking Bad spell out “Seven Thirty-Seven Down Over ABQ.” In the season finale, a 737 plane does indeed go down over Albuquerque, or ABQ.

12. Sentimental value

Given that Saul’s Breaking Bad office has a lot of strange objects in it, it’d be easy to miss the octagonal desk. As it turns out, the offices of Saul Goodman aren’t the desk’s first home: it’s seen in the background of Kim’s office in Better Call Saul. It’s retroactive, sure, but it’s still nice to know that Saul has some mementos around.

13. Movie night

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in 'Better Call Saul'
Ursula Coyote, AMC/Sony Pictures Television

There’s also a little sentimental value in the name of Saul’s holding company, Ice Station Zebra Associates, which he uses to help Walt launder money in Breaking Bad. As we discover in Better Call Saul, Ice Station Zebra is Kim’s favorite movie, due to her father’s affection for it. Though Kim is physically absent from Breaking Bad, small details seem to tie back to her all the time.

14. Set dressing

Krazy-8, may he rest in peace, also shows up in Better Call Saul. The van that he drives has the logo for Tampico Furniture on it, and he’s wearing a uniform with the logo as well. Tampico is where Walt, as he recalls in Breaking Bad, bought Walter Jr.’s crib. Unfortunately, those fond memories aren’t quite enough to save Krazy-8’s skin.

15. Beware of bugs

Before Mike leaves Philly for Albuquerque, a bartender tells him to be mindful of tarantulas. The spider plays a key role in Breaking Bad later on, as a young boy’s pursuit of the bug puts him in Walt’s path—and Todd’s path, by proxy. Determined to make a good impression on Walt, and knowing that there can’t be any witnesses to what they’re doing, Todd shoots the boy in one of the most shocking and cold-blooded moments in the entire series.

An earlier version of this story ran in 2018.

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