The Surprising Reason Elle Macpherson Regrets Iconic "Friends" Guest Role
The supermodel played Joey's dancer roommate Janine in Season 6.
Australian star Elle Macpherson is best known for her modeling career, which includes appearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue five times beginning in the mid-1980s, as well as being a member of that era's class of "supermodels," a group that also included Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. However, the woman who was nicknamed "The Body" by the fashion press also had a solid acting career for a time, with her most recent role being the 2009 TV series, The Beautiful Life.
Her first credit as an actor was the 1994 movie Sirens, a '30s-set biopic of real-life artist Norman Lindsey, which was written and directed by fellow Aussie John Duigan. By the late '90s, Macpherson also had played roles in higher-profile movies including Batman & Robin and The Mirror Has Two Faces. And in 1999, she temporarily joined the cast of one of the biggest shows on TV when she guest-starred on several episodes of Friends as Joey's dancer roommate, Janine Lecroix. Though she enjoyed the experience at the time, the supermodel later admitted that she should have thought twice about being in the sitcom, though perhaps not for the reasons you might think. Read on to find out why Macpherson has said that she probably wouldn't have accepted her Friends role if she could do it all over again.
Macpherson was one of many major stars to appear on the show.
Macpherson was firmly on the A-list by the time she made her Friends debut, having added acting roles and presenting gigs to her already extensive modeling resume. Her guest arc on Friends was part of NBC's bid for November sweeps success, and she appeared on the same season as fellow guest stars Bruce Willis and Reese Witherspoon.
She was thrilled, later calling it "one of the best experiences of [her] career" when she reflected on the show on her Instagram in 2021. She could've stayed longer, too. She told Australia's TV Week in 2016 (as reported by E! News) that producers actually asked her to continue on as Janine for more episodes, though she declined because she didn't want to be away from her then-partner Arpad Busson and their two children, who lived in London, any longer.
She played one of Joey's love interests.
In 1999, Friends entered the sixth season of what ended up being a 10-season run. It kicked off that September resolving the cliffhanger of Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) getting drunkenly married in Las Vegas to high ratings. (According to Nielsen, almost 28 million households tuned in.) MacPherson made her debut in November in Episode 7, "The One Where Phoebe Runs," as Joey's (Matt LeBlanc) new roommate, Janine Lecroix, a professional dancer. While Joey is immediately attracted to her, the two become friends over subsequent episodes and finally start a romantic relationship while filming a pre-recorded segment for Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. However, their relationship doesn't last long, and by Episode 11, "The One With The Apothecary Table," Joey decides to break up with her after she cruelly makes fun of Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry).
Though Macpherson's role didn't cause a major jump in the show's already high ratings, she was there for a few highlights of the season, including Episode 9, "The One Where Ross Got High," which is featured in multiple lists of the funniest Friends episodes of all time. Also, her final episode is famous for having a plot centered around product placement for Pottery Barn.
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She later said she didn't know what she was getting into.
Friends is still heavily syndicated. And, as the streaming wars heated up, the sitcom became one of the hottest properties Netflix had, due to the show's continued popularity. (It's now streaming on HBO Max.) As it turns out, Macpherson has mixed feelings about the show remaining such a cultural force. "If I'd known how important it was in the U.S., or how long it would be on TV, I may not have chosen to do it," she told TV Week in 2016. This wasn't because she didn't enjoy it or because the experience was negative in any way. In fact, she loved working with LeBlanc. "Great working partner," she told the outlet. "Good kisser."
Her regrets instead centered around the role following her for the rest of her life. "It was a lot of pressure if you look at it in the way that it will be around for 20 or 30 years," Macpherson explained. She also told The West Australian around the same time that it was the only thing her then-13-year-old son's friends knew her from because they watched it in reruns. According to News.com.au, she told the outlet, "They know me as Janine Lecroix, and they are always like, 'Oh, you know Cy's mum, she is on Friends.' They haven't figured out it was nearly 20 years ago; they still think I am on Friends."
She clarified her comments later.
Though Macpherson wished she had known just how big the show was (and was going to remain) before agreeing to appear, she made sure to set the record straight that she had a blast doing it and that her feelings aren't about her performance or the series itself. In an interview with News.com.au in 2018, she clarified what she meant, saying, "What I said was, had I known how successful it was before going, I think I would have chickened out because it was such an iconic show, and I probably wouldn't have felt up to the job."
That experience led her to other roles, too, including starring opposite Rupert Everett in the 2001 rom-com South Kensington and appearing in the short-lived fashion drama series, The Beautiful Life. She combined her modeling and acting experience to host Britain's Next Top Model beginning in 2010 and to host and executive produce the reality competition series Fashion Star, which ran from 2012 to 2013.
The now-59-year-old model and presenter will never know what direction her career might have taken if she had declined her Friends role, but she's ultimately glad she left her comfort zone to do it. "But fortunately I went, I took a risk, I didn't know how big of a risk I was taking, and I had the most incredible experience," she told News.com.au.