Remember when Joey fell off his bed in the third season of Friends and had to wear a sling? It turns out there was a very real, very painful reason for that storyline.
HBO Max’s long-awaited Friends reunion, which premiered Thursday, reveals that Matt LeBlanc dislocated his shoulder while filming an earlier episode, inspiring the Powers That Be to write his injury into the show.
The dislocation occurred at the taping of “The One Where No One’s Ready,” which found Joey and Chandler fighting over a seat in Monica and Rachel’s living room. The bit required LeBlanc to quickly leap into the chair, which he did successfully on three different takes.
“Lord knows why we had to shoot it a fourth time,” series co-creator Marta Kauffman says.
Yet they did. And as LeBlanc recalls, “I went to jump over the coffee table and somehow tripped. My legs went up in the air and my shoulder came out of the socket.”
At that point, “they’ve got to take him to the hospital, so that was the end of the filming,” co-creator David Crane says. “It wasn’t an episode where we could just shoot all the other scenes. This was the one episode where it’s just the six of them, they’re all in it and we’re done for the night.”
Thus, Joey’s injury was written into the next episode, “The One With the Jam.”
“We put that into the show, then we waited until he was OK to go back and film the ending of ‘The One Where No One’s Ready,'” executive producer Kevin Bright adds. “What started out to be the simplest Friends episode ended up taking the longest amount of time to shoot.”
The reunion features actual raw footage of LeBlanc’s injury, followed by a blood-curdling scream he releases after slinking off to Monica’s bedroom. It’s a difficult moment for the cast to re-watch 25 years later, especially for Courteney Cox, who says, “I don’t want to see pain!” (Spoiler alert: She sees pain.)
So, what could have possibly caused this freak accident? LeBlanc’s theory is the cast skipped its traditional pre-show huddle before taping that episode. As he tells the group, “That’s the one time we didn’t do it.”
Friends: The Reunion marked only the second time that all six cast members — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer — had been together in 17 years. Hosted by James Corden, the 100-minute special also featured appearances by former recurring guest stars Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles (Jack and Judy Geller), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Maggie “Oh. My. God.” Wheeler (Janice Litman-Goralnik) and Tom Selleck (Richard Burke). For even more of TVLine’s extensive coverage, click here.