See Janice From "Friends" Now at 61
Maggie Wheeler played Chandler's on-again, off-again, on-again girlfriend on the sitcom.
On Friends, Maggie Wheeler played one of the most iconically annoying women of all time: Chandler's (Matthew Perry) on-again, off-again girlfriend and sometimes foe, Janice Litman. Janice's braying laugh and catchphrase, "Oh…my…god," are the hallmarks of the recurring character, who has a habit of popping back into the gang's lives at the worst possible moments. While the two weren't meant to last, Wheeler's career was. In addition to her still-classic Friends role, she's played many, many others on film and TV. Read on to find out where else you've seen her and what she's doing today.
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She's been in tons of hit shows.
Wheeler's career began in the early 1980s, with her first credited role in the 1982 movie Soup for One. Before Friends, she had small parts in a few other films and guested on series including Dream On, Seinfeld, and The X-Files. In the 10 years she was recurring as Janice, Wheeler also played Anita on Ellen and Linda on Everybody Loves Raymond, in addition to appearing in episodes of Jack & Jill, Will & Grace, and CSI. Post-Friends, the actor continued to be a major presence on TV, popping up in ER, Friday Night Lights, How I Met Your Mother, Hot in Cleveland, and as Ophelia in Californication, to name just a few projects. Her most recent live-action roles include the series Shameless and the 2021 movie Mark, Mary & Some Other People.
Now, she's focused on voicework.
Since her Janice voice—not the actor's real tone, by the way—is so memorable, it's no surprise that Wheeler has also voiced many animated characters through the years. Her voicework includes roles in Justice League, Kim Possible, Archer, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, and the 2019 animated version of The Addams Family. In a 2020 interview with Closely Observed Frames, Wheeler revealed that she's come to prefer being in a sound booth to being on a set. "I would love to just be doing that work," she said. "I love to work on camera and in a live ensemble with people, but that work is scarce. I wouldn't necessarily choose voiceover because on-camera work is scarce, I would choose voiceover work because I really enjoy it."
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She's also a singer.
As Wheeler explained to Best Self earlier this year, she grew up with folk music and has retained a love of singing to this day. She's co-leader of the Golden Bridge Community Choir, which its website describes as a "non-auditioned inter-generational choir" that "joins in the ancient tradition of community building through song as we explore rhythms, harmonies, chants and songs from our back yards and from around the world." She also conducts voice workshops and composes her own music.
"This passion for connecting through music I've been able to take up and embrace because it lives through me," she told Best Self of her love for communal singing. "It doesn't require permission from another. My acting work requires permission. That's the nature of the business. But this music work I can carry on my back."
She reunited with the Friends cast.
It wouldn't have been a Friends reunion without appearances from some of the show's most memorable guest characters, so of course Wheeler was there when the cast got together for their 2021 HBO Max special. When host James Corden asked how she developed Janice's signature voice and laugh, Wheeler said (as reported by The Daily Mail), "'You know, I got the audition sides across my fax machine and it says fast-talking New Yorker, and I thought, [in Janice's voice] "I know her. I just—she lives in me, that's it."' Later, on Instagram, the actor called the reunion "a night to remember in every way."
Back in 2014, Wheeler told Digital Spy that she would be happy to resurrect the iconic character and even had some ideas about where Janice would be these days. "I think she is happy on Long Island with her third husband, and she's getting her children through school and shopping online for some nice leopard-print boots for her daughter," she told the outlet.
Her daughter is TikTok-famous.
Wheeler married her husband, sculptor Daniel Borden, in 1990 and they have two daughters together: Juno, born in 1994, and Gemma, born in 1999. Recently, Gemma posted a TikTok about being asked to do her mother's "Janice voice," and it garnered hundreds of thousands of views. Her mom appears in some of her other videos, too.