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David Schwimmer: 'Friends fame made me want to hide under a cap'

Published 17/08/2016

David Schwimmer
David Schwimmer

David Schwimmer "took years" to learn how to be a celebrity after Friends turned him into a household name.

David Schwimmer became something of a recluse when he was catapulted to fame in Friends.

The 49-year-old actor is still most well known for playing Ross Geller in the hit U.S. sitcom, which premiered in 1994 when he was just 27. The programme turned David and co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry into household names, but the sudden transformation into a celebrity was somewhat difficult to cope with.

"It was pretty jarring and it messed with my relationship to other people in a way that took years, I think, for me to adjust to and become comfortable with," David told The Hollywood Reporter about the effect the popularity of the show had on his life.

“As an actor, the way I was trained, my job was to observe life and to observe other people, so I used to walk around with my head up, really engaged and watching people.

"The effect of celebrity was the absolute opposite: it made me want to hide under a baseball cap and not be seen. And I realised after a while that I was no longer watching people; I was trying to hide."

David, who has found success as an actor and director since his Friends days, admits he had to retrain himself in order to learn to accept his new status. And after some time, he learned to accept his "new world".

"So I was trying to figure out: How do I be an actor in this new world, in this new situation? How do I do my job? That was tricky," he added.

During breaks from filming Friends, David took on movie roles in a bid to "play the long game and hopefully change some peoples’ minds”.

But one part he turned down was that of J in 1997 movie Men In Black - a role taken by Will Smith.

David added in the podcast chat that he was forced to decline the part because he had already agreed to direct the movie Since You’ve Been Gone, and cast his entire Chicago theatre company in roles in the film.

"About a month before production, I get the call about Men in Black, which was a direct conflict with doing, directing that film," he explained. "And I just said, ‘I can’t.’ These are my closest friends in the world. This is their first shot at a movie, my first shot at directing. It wasn’t even like a choice. It was like, ‘I can’t.’”

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