Lisa Kudrow

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-hour Archive interview, Lisa Kudrow talks about growing up with the hopes of becoming a biomedical engineer and how her goals shifted to acting. She discusses her work with the improv group The Groundlings and with acting coach Cynthia Sigetti. She speaks of getting her first break from Aaron Spelling, who cast her in the play "Ladies Room" and chronicles several early guest-actor roles on Cheers, Newhart and Mad About You before getting a chance to audition for a new pilot created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Kudrow then details how she got the role of "Phoebe" on Friends and discusses developing the character and some of the songs on the show. She explains how the idea for "Ursula" ("Phoebe's" twin sister) came about and talks of working with the cast and the many guest-actors on the program. She speaks of The Comeback, which she co-created with producer Michael Patrick King and describes coming up with the character "Fiona Wallice" for her Showtime series Web Therapy. Karen Herman conducted the interview on December 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.

"It's six people on a couch... that's a show?"

Highlights
Lisa Kudrow on being apprehensive about auditioning for James Burrows for Friends: "no notes"
04:05
Lisa Kudrow on her proudest professional achievement with Web Therapy
00:55
Lisa Kudrow on advice to aspiring actors "as long as it's not porn, do it"
00:37
Lisa Kudrow on her audition for Mad About You
00:54
Lisa Kudrow on what she learned about acting from her work at The Groundlings Improv group
02:01
Lisa Kudrow on shooting the final episode of Friends and the one item she has from the set, given to her by Matthew Perry
02:48
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and influences; on the television shows that had an impact on her as a young girl, such as Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, Newhart; on wanting to be an actress from an early age
On being a serious student in high school; on her studies at Vassar College where she majored in Biology; on deciding to leave pharmacology to try and become an actress
On the encouragement she received from her brother's friend Jon Lovitz; on taking acting classes with Cynthia Szigeti and her introduction to The Groundlings Improv group in Los Angeles; on working with Conan O'Brien in her classes
On how she created her first "airhead" character while in The Groundlings; on how her first performance was a real turning point for her
On her first professional audition and first job in a play "Ladies Room" that was produced by Aaron Spelling and written by Groundling Robin Schiff in 1987; on how her "Michele" character would be revived ten years later in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"; on her first guest-starring role on television (Cheers) and realizing some of the challenges of doing a long-running show
On auditioning for Saturday Night Live; on a guest-role on Newhart for the series' finale

Chapter 2

On being passed over for the role of "Roz" on Frasier; on working with James Burrows on the pilot for Frasier; on guest-starring on Mad About You; on becoming a blonde
On hearing about the Friends script and auditioning for the role of "Phoebe"; on meeting James Burrows a second time
On Friends' first table read; on creating the character of "Phoebe"; on shooting the pilot
On her Friends' character and the production of the show; on "Smelly Cat" and some of the other songs on the show

Chapter 3

On a typical workweek on Friends; on how her own pregnancy was handled on the show; on working with guest actor Teri Garr
On the impact of 9/11 on Friends and on the cast
On the sudden popularity of Friends  and the cast's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show; on fame 
On the finale of Friends; on her favorite episodes; on where the characters would be today; on the show's legacy
On the origin of her next big series, The Comeback, which she co-created with Michael Patrick King; on creating the character "Valerie Cherish"
On creating her production company, Is or Isn't Entertainment, with Dan Bucatinsky
On creating her series Web Therapy; on the premise of the show; on developing her character's voice; on guest-stars Julia Louis-Dreyfuss  and Lily Tomlin
On working with Meryl Streep on Web Therapy and guest-stars Conan O'Brien and David Schwimmer
On becoming executive producer of Who Do You Think You Are? and tracing her own family history on one episode
On the film Opposite of Sex being one of the highlights of her career

Chapter 4

On guest-starring roles on Cougar Town and The Simpsons
On fame and handling paparazzi; on what fans would be surprised to know about her
On her proudest professional achievement with The Comeback and Web Therapy
On advice to aspiring actors and comedians; on where she sees herself in ten years
Shows

Amazing Race, The

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Lisa Kudrow on how The Amazing Race inspired her show The Comeback as well as other reality shows

Bob

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Lisa Kudrow on her "ditzy" character she played on Bob, with Bob Newhart

Cheers

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Lisa Kudrow on her first guest-starring role on Cheers (the episode "Two Girls for Every Boyd"), and on what she learned from that set about working in television
08:14

Comeback, The

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Lisa Kudrow on the origin of her next big series, The Comeback, which she co-created with Michael Patrick King
Lisa Kudrow on how The Amazing Race inspired her show The Comeback as well as other reality shows
Lisa Kudrow on creating her Comeback character "Valerie Cherish" and the rest of the cast on the show
Lisa Kudrow on working with HBO on The Comeback and why it only lasted one season
Lisa Kudrow on her proudest professional achievement with The Comeback
00:34

Friends

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Lisa Kudrow on being initially cast as "Roz" on Frasier, then being subsequently let go after the pilot was shot
Lisa Kudrow on hearing about the Friends script and auditioning for the role of "Phoebe"
Lisa Kudrow on her audition for "Phoebe" on Friends; on meeting James Burrows a second time
Lisa Kudrow on how her Mad About You guest-role contributed to creating "Phoebe's" twin sister "Ursula" on Friends; on the difference between the roles
Lisa Kudrow on getting a TV Guide "Cheers" for her "Ursula" character on Friends  
Lisa Kudrow on how Friends was first described to her; on the casts' first table read
Lisa Kudrow on creating "Phoebe" as a character on Friends
Lisa Kudrow on casting Friends; on Matthew Perry being the last actor cast
Lisa Kudrow on how she would describe "Phoebe" on Friends; on her strengths and weaknesses
Lisa Kudrow on "Smelly Cat" and other popular Friends songs her character sang
Lisa Kudrow on how the production worked around shooting her "twin" on Friends
Lisa Kudrow on the evolution of her Friends' character "Phoebe"; on how her own pregnancy was handled on the show
05:45
Lisa Kudrow on working with Teri Garr on Friends as her mother on the show
Lisa Kudrow on shooting the Halloween episode of Friends right after 9/11
Lisa Kudrow on Phoebe's wedding on Friends; on working with Paul Rudd
Lisa Kudrow on the finale of Friends
Lisa Kudrow on shooting the final episode of Friends and the one item she has from the set, given to her by Matthew Perry - a cookie jar
02:48
Lisa Kudrow on her favorite episodes of Friends; on the flashback episodes
Lisa Kudrow on the Friends episode where "Phoebe" seduces "Chandler"; on whether there could be a reunion
Lisa Kudrow on whether there could be a Friends reunion; on where "Phoebe" would be today
Lisa Kudrow on the legacy of Friends and the message of the show
00:49

Mad About You

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Lisa Kudrow on guest-starring on Mad About You and meeting Richard Kind
Lisa Kudrow on working with Helen Hunt on Mad About You; on what she learned from her
Lisa Kudrow on watching TV after 9/11 and finding solace in a "world where there's no such thing as 9/11"
02:46

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Lisa Kudrow on being influenced by The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a young girl
00:11

Newhart: "The Last Newhart"

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Lisa Kudrow on appearing on the series finale of Newhart, and on working with Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette

Oprah Winfrey Show, The

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Lisa Kudrow on the sudden popularity of Friends and the cast's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show

Saturday Night Live

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Lisa Kudrow on auditioning for Saturday Night Live for Lorne Michaels while she was at The Groundlings (Julia Louis-Dreyfus got the part instead), and on later hosting the show
04:22

Web Therapy

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Lisa Kudrow on developing her character on Web Therapy; on the premise of the show; on her character's voice
Lisa Kudrow on developing the character "Fiona Wallice" on Web Therapy
01:25
Lisa Kudrow on working with the many guest-stars on Web Therapy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lily Tomlin, Conan O'Brien, and David Schwimmer
Lisa Kudrow on her proudest professional achievement with Web Therapy
00:55

Who Do You Think You Are?

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Lisa Kudrow on becoming involved with the NBC series Who Do You Think You Are? and her role as executive producer
Lisa Kudrow on big-name stars signing on to participate on Who Do You Think You Are? and why she feels the show is important
Topics

9/11

View Topic
Lisa Kudrow on shooting the Halloween episode of Friends right after 9/11
Lisa Kudrow on watching TV after 9/11 and finding solace in a "world where there's no such thing as 9/11"
02:46

Fame and Celebrity

View Topic
Lisa Kudrow on the sudden popularity of Friends and the cast's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show
04:06
Lisa Kudrow on how fame affected the cast members of Friends; on not being able to go out in public after their success hit
02:24
Lisa Kudrow on the "overexposure" of the cast of Friends
01:10

Pop Culture

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Lisa Kudrow on "Smelly Cat" and other popular Friends songs her character sang

Television Industry

View Topic
Lisa Kudrow on the sudden popularity of Friends and the cast's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show
04:06
Lisa Kudrow on how fame affected the cast members of Friends; on not being able to go out in public after their success hit
02:24
Lisa Kudrow on the "overexposure" of the cast of Friends
01:10
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Lisa Kudrow on realizing there was no "mystical truth" to becoming a working actor after seeing her brother's friend, Jon Lovitz, land a gig on Saturday Night Live
01:39
Lisa Kudrow on what she learned about acting from her work at The Groundlings Improv group and how invaluable the character monologues were
Lisa Kudrow on her first-ever performance in front of an audience
03:21
Lisa Kudrow on some realities of working in television and the expectations and challenges of coming in as guest-star on a long-running sitcom
04:18
Lisa Kudrow on the challenges of performing the same character for so many years, as on Friends with "Phoebe"
02:08
Lisa Kudrow on advice to aspiring actors "as long as it's not porn, do it"
01:09

Performers

View Profession
Lisa Kudrow on realizing there was no "mystical truth" to becoming a working actor after seeing her brother's friend, Jon Lovitz, land a gig on Saturday Night Live
01:39
Lisa Kudrow on what she learned about acting from her work at The Groundlings Improv group and how invaluable the character monologues were
Lisa Kudrow on her first-ever performance in front of an audience
03:21
Lisa Kudrow on some realities of working in television and the expectations and challenges of coming in as guest-star on a long-running sitcom
04:18
Lisa Kudrow on the challenges of performing the same character for so many years, as on Friends with "Phoebe"
02:08
Lisa Kudrow on advice to aspiring actors "as long as it's not porn, do it"
01:09
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Lisa Kudrow on watching TV after 9/11 and finding solace in a "world where there's no such thing as 9/11"
02:46
People

Dan Bucatinksy

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Lisa Kudrow on creating her production company, Is or Isn't Entertainment, with Dan Bucatinsky

James Burrows

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Lisa Kudrow on her audition for "Phoebe" on Friends; on meeting James Burrows, who had directed her on Cheers, for the second time
Lisa Kudrow on working with James Burrows on Friends; on pitching her ideas

Courteney Cox

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Courtney Cox on Friends and how she helped the castmates, which was "crucial" to setting the tone of the show

David Crane

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Friends co-creators and writers David Crane and Marta Kauffman

Teri Garr

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Terri Garr on Friends as her mother on the show

Helen Hunt

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Helen Hunt on Mad About You; on what she learned from her

Marta Kauffman

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Friends co-creators and writers David Crane and Marta Kauffman

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Web Therapy
00:57

Jon Lovitz

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Lisa Kudrow on how Jon Lovitz encouraged her to pursue acting as a career and suggested she go to The Groundlings Improv group in Los Angeles, which she later did
00:49

Bob Newhart

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Bob Newhart on the Newhart finale

Conan O'Brien

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Lisa Kudrow on meeting Conan O'Brien at The Groundlings when they were both struggling actors; and how he impressed her in their acting classes
02:08
Lisa Kudrow on working with Conan O'Brien on Web Therapy
00:44

Sean Penn

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Sean Penn on Friends right after 9/11
03:04

David Schwimmer

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Lisa Kudrow on working with David Schwimmer on Web Therapy

Meryl Streep

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Meryl Streep on Web Therapy
01:16

Cynthia Szigeti

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Lisa Kudrow on taking acting classes with Cynthia Szgeti, an Improv coach associated with The Groundlings; on what she learned about committing to a character
05:56

Lily Tomlin

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Lisa Kudrow on working with Lily Tomlin on Web Therapy
00:53

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