WE could all do with a few good friends in high places.
And the cast and crew members of Friends are doing very well for themselves indeed.
The actors are reportedly being paid up to £2.1million for their appearance in tomorrow's reunion episode.
At the time, the six core cast were paid a record-breaking £700,000 ($1million) per episode by the final series.
And the six main characters allegedly receive £14.1million ($20million) in royalties from reruns and syndication deals every year.
But money expert Gemma Godfrey says there is more to the Friends cast’s bank balance than residual cheques.
She said: “Ultimately the Friends gang has made more money off screen than on screen.
“You can see all the people who diversified their income by either getting behind the camera, investing in property or taking on brands pull the most earning power.”
With a few surprising entries, Gemma analyses their estimated net worths, shrewd Hollywood moves and real estate investments on our Friends rich list.
=1. Creator David Crane: £283.2m ($400m)
Producer and writer David Crane came up with the idea for Friends with pal and fellow writer Marta Kauffman who he wrote Veronica’s Closet with in the 90s.
After the Friends ended in 2004, Crane pitched a spin off series Joey with was quickly picked up by US TV network NBC.
When the show was cancelled, Crane continued to work with Matt le Blanc on a series for the BBC called Episodes.
Created with his partner Jeffrey Klarik, the series starring Tamsin Grieg and Steven Mangan was nominated for ten Emmys, two Golden Globes and a Bafta.
Most recently, he produced a US sitcom called The Class about a group of friends reuniting.
Gemma said: “David and Marta created Veronica’s Closet and they were both successful before Friends."
=1. Marta Kauffman: £283.2m ($400m)
Without writing buddy Crane, she's had success with Netflix dramas and documentaries.
In 2015, she criticised the Friends actors for taking £700,000 ($1million) per episode.
She said “A million dollars an episode is kinda ridiculous. Let’s be honest, that’s a lot of money
“I think it’s inflated. And there’s something unrealistic about it. Not everybody is going to get a million dollars an episode.”
Since, Marta has co-created the Netflix series Grace and Frankie and produced Seeing Allred documentary on lawyer Gloria Allred.
Gemma said: “What Marta did was tried to cater her existing audience with a new format as they got older.
“People watching Grace and Frankie would have enjoyed Friends in the nineties.
“She diversified into a documentary which is very interesting.”
2. Jennifer Aniston: £212m ($300m)
As beautiful Rachel Green, Aniston has made a reputation for herself which big brands are desperate to get a slice of.
Brand deals with eight-figure endorsement deal with skincare brand Aveeno in 2012, has invested in beverage company SmartWater since 2007, and a reported £3.5m ($5m) Emirates airline deal.
Aniston is also a spokesperson for Eyelove, an eye drop brand. Since 2010, she has also released about six Elizabeth Arden fragrances.
Known for sparking “The Rachel” hair craze in the 90s, Aniston cashed out on haircare brand Living Proof.
She signed on as a partial owner in 2012 and in 2016 conglomerate Unilever bought out her share – thought to be in the millions.
She has also represented Heineken, Loreal, Elizabeth Arden and Eyelove.
Aniston is also estimated to charge £5.6million ($8million) per movie – with box office hits since 2004 including Horrible Bosses, Meet the Millers and Marley and Me.
Gemma said: “She successfully monetised the image of the girl next door.
“She also invested in brands which she would endorse. Not only would she earn a fee from the endorsement but also make more money if the product sold well.
“She looked at what she was known for and looked at other ways of making money from it.”
3. Kevin S Bright: £141.31m ($200m)
Producer Kevin made his name in television in the seventies and eighties by producing a series of Johnny Cash and magician David Copperfield specials as well as hidden camera shows.
He branched into sitcoms after meeting David Crane and Marta Kauffman, forming production company Bright/Kauffman/Crane together.
He went on to produce and direct Friends and spin off series Joey.
After Joey was cancelled and Bright was going through a divorce, he spectacularly quit Hollywood and went to teach filmmaking to the blind for six years in Watertown, near Boston.
He said in 2016: “I guess professionally I was very happy doing Friends. But personally I was very unhappy.”
He returned to Los Angeles to work at Emerson College, reconcile with his wife and even has dipped his toe in production once again.
In 2019, he directed one episode of Matt leBlanc series Man with a Plan.
In 2019, he put his Malibu mansion on the market for £9.89million ($14million) – making a £8.48million ($12million) profit on the house he bought in 1999.
Gemma said: “This shows how much personal relationships impact wealth.
“Kevin may have been earning well from Friends, but divorce drove him to leave behind lucrative TV earnings, which poignantly he only returned to when they reconciled.
“Making six times his money from property over ten years was also a great return.”
4. Courteney Cox: £106.2m ($150m)
STARRING in The Scream film franchise has led Courteney to direct and even produce some of her own shows.
After Friends, she’s been cast in film and TV hits like Modern Family, Scrubs and the US version of Shameless.
She also tried her hand at directing and producing 2008 short film The Monday Before Thanksgiving and executive produced series Dirt with ex-husband David Arquette.
She also starred in Cougar Town from 2009 to 2015, where she also was listed as an executive producer on the series while directing 12 episodes.
Courteney owns the production company Coquette Productions after creating it with her ex-husband David Arquette.
They met on the set of Scream and divorced in May 2013.
She produced a documentary on pregnancy for Facebook Watch called 9 Months with Courteney Cox which has been renewed for a second season.
She is currently filming Scream 5 which is due out in 2022.
Gemma said: “She branched out from making money in front of the camera to behind the camera.
“She put her money and expertise behind shows to make them successful.
“She’s branched into new formats and social media platforms.”
5. Matthew Perry: £84.9m ($120m)
While filming Friends Perry was cast in hit films Fools Rush In and The Whole Nine Yards.
Besides his acting career, he has also made millions by smart investments in property.
Last year he made a profit of £1.49million ($2.1million) on his beachfront home in Malibu which he sold for £9.27million ($13.1million).
He also sold a Los Angeles penthouse apartment for £19.1million ($27million) last year – making £4.9million ($7million) on the property since he bought it in 2017.
He has also starred in TV series The Good Wife, Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town and Lisa Kudrow’s web series Web Therapy.
In 2009, he was cast alongside teen heartthrob Zac Efron in film 17 Again which made £96.5million ($136.3 million) at the box office globally.
Gemma said: “He turned his TV income into property profits.
“There’s that classic saying ‘you need money to make money’ and that’s exactly what he’s done to build up a property portfolio.
“He’s also worked with co-stars and seen the potential that their collective star power can bring.”
=6. David Schwimmer: £70.8m ($100m)
David Schwimmer has balanced a creative career with big movie blockbusters which is keeping the cash rolling in.
He voiced Melman the giraffe in the kids film series Madagascar, Captain Sobel in 2001 series Band of Brothers and even Robert Kardashian in American Crime Story in 2016.
But following Friends he pursued theatre projects starring in productions like Some Girls in London’s West End in 2005 and has been campaigning for funding for the arts throughout the pandemic.
Like Courteney Cox, Schwimmer has also turned his hand to directing both on stage and on camera.
He directed off-broadway production Fault Lines in 2008 after directing 10 episodes of Friends, the TV show Joey and the movie Trust and others.
His feature film directorial debut followed in 2007 with the Simon Pegg comedy Run Fatboy Run.
In 2020, Schwimmer was cast as a main character and executive producer in a new British sitcom, Intelligence broadcast on Sky One.
Last year, anglophile David was signed up as the face of British banking chain TSB.
Gemma said: “You’ve got endorsement deals but for him it’s more about his love of theatre and taking creative control.
“Theatre is clearly about more than money for David and is obviously something he’s incredibly passionate about.”
=6. Jon Favreau: £70.8m ($100m)
Jon played Monica’s millionaire boyfriend on the show in 1997, and he’s not doing too badly in real life either.
Before appearing in friends he wrote and starred in 1996 cult comedy swingers – but it was Friends which launched him into the mainstream.
After Friends he lucked out with landing directing jobs for the Marvel Universe franchises and Will Ferrell film Elf.
He directed, produced, and appeared as Happy Hogan in the films Iron Man in 2008 and Iron Man 2 two years later.
He has also produced the lucrative Avengers franchise films as well as starring in them.
He also created Star Wars spinoff series for Disney+ The Mandalorian after narrowly missing out on directing The Force Awakens.
Gemma said: “For Jon, the superhero franchises has been Jon’s ticket for a fortune.
“Also stepping behind the camera has been a smart move for him to increase his earning potential.”
=7. Lisa Kudrow: £63.6m ($90m)
After wrapping on Friends, Lisa has carved our a successful career as a Hollywood producer and writer.
Her biggest money maker since Friends is providing the voice of mum Janice in Boss Baby which made £373.49million ($528million) at the box office and its sequel.
But Kudrow took creative control of her career by writing and acting in HBO comedy The Comeback about a failed sitcom actress.
She went on to produce and star in a web series and later TV show called Web Therapy which she invited her ex Friends costars to appear in.
Behind the camera, Kudrow brought BBC show Who Do You Think You Are to the US and serves as executive producer on the hit series.
Last year she starred in Netflix series Space Force alongside Steve Carrell.
Gemma said: “For Lisa, it’s really around branching out behind the camera and creating content.
“Her name being attached to a project like Who Do You Think You Are will attract investment and other stars.”
=7. Hank Azaria: £63.6m ($90m)
A surprise entry for guest star Hank who played David The Scientist rivals the core cast for their fortunes.
Although he only appeared in five episodes, he continued to work with the cast alongside his career.
He starred with Jennifer Aniston in 2004 film Along Came Polly, David Schwimmer cast him in Run Fatboy Run and He also starred alongside Matthew Perry and Minnie Driver in West End play Sexual Perversity in Chicago.
Most of his wealth comes from his regular gig voicing characters like Chief Wiggum and Moe the Bartender in The Simpsons.
He is reportedly paid £212,200 ($300,000) per episode of the cartoon – toting up to £4.67million ($6.6million) a year.
In 2017, he wrote Amazon Prime series Brockmire which ran for three seasons.
He starred as Sir Lancelot in Monty Python musical Spamalot’s US theatre run – the show was nominated for 14 Tony Awards.
Gemma said: “Unlike the other stars who leveraged friends he made most of his money through using his distinctive voice.
“From his other roles – he’s showing the power of having friends. It’s great they can work together to support each other’s careers.
“It’s kept his profile high and enabled him to do other deals and projects. It’s not necessarily about immediate remuneration.”
=8. Matt LeBlanc: £56.59m ($80m)
After Friends, Matt went on to be paid a reported £10.6million ($15million) for spin-off show Joey – made by the Friends producer David Crane.
Halfway through the show’s second season it was placed in the same timeslot as American Idol.
It’s poor ratings led to the show being scrapped halfway through the season.
But Matt bounced back with series Episodes where he played a parody himself next to Tamson Grieg and Steven Mangan.
In 2012, he won a Golden Globe for the series.
Motorhead Matt soon turned to presenting – picking up a spot in the revamped Top Gear series from 2016 to 2019.
He owns a six-car Porsche and four-car Ferrari collection which is worth an estimated £1.2million
He was most recently executive producer of TV show Man with a Plan which was cancelled in 2020.
Gemma said: “He’s somebody who doubled down on in front of the camera acting – and that’s why he’s lower down the list even though he’s still a multimillionaire.
“He’s really focussed on his acting career and taken roles that are either similar or in a similar format.
“Moving over from acting to presenting Top Gear was an interesting career path for him – it’s a shame that didn’t take off more.”
=8. Cole Sprouse: £56.59m ($80m)
Cole got his big break in Hollywood as Ross’s son Ben in seven episodes of Friends from 2000.
He then went on to secure a Nickelodeon series with his brother Dylan called the Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
It was reported he was paid £14,150 ($20,000) per episode of the kids show which ran from 2005 to 2008.
With his brother, Cole created a clothing line, magazines and a comics series for teens and preteens.
Cole and Dylan also released their own series of detective books called Sprouse Bros. 47 R.O.N.I.N.
The brothers also had endorsement deals with Dannon Danimals and Nintendo DS.
He successfully made the transition from child actor to be cast in dark Riverdale TV series as Jughead, making a reported £28,290 ($40,000) per episode.
This year he was cast in HBO Max film Moonshot which promises to be a “romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist.”
Gemma said: “He’s the breakout star. Think how much younger he is than everyone on the list.
“He started work early and monetised his profile in so many different ways.
“Friends was a springboard and off the back of that he created his own brands.”
9. Paul Rudd: £49.52m ($70m)
As Phoebe’s husband Mike Hannigan, Paul Rudd appeared in 17 episodes of the series.
He had already found Hollywood fame with 90s film Clueless, and secured more film roles after his stint as Mike.
He appeared in Judd Apatow comedies Anchorman, The 40-year-old Virgin, Knocked Up and This is 40.
In 2013, Rudd was cast in the title role of Marvel’s surprise hit Ant-Man which made £367.8million ($520million) at the box office.
Thanks to its success, he secured follow-up roles in Captain America: Civil War and the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Ant-Man also appeared in the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame which has bec-ome one of the highest grossing movie of all time with £1.97billion ($2.79bn) takings.
His Marvel roles were reported to have earned him £29million ($41million).
Gemma said: “As soon as he got involved in a superhero franchise it brought him up a level.
“He had a very good acting career before Friends, and he’d been making money
“Friends obviously gave him one step up but the next step up was superhero movies.”
10. Tom Selleck: £31.83m ($45m)
Tom appeared as Monica’s much older boyfriend Dr Richard Burke in ten episodes of Friends.
Before taking up the TV role, he had made his name in Magnum PI and Three Men and A Baby.
More recently he has starred in Amazon Prime series Blue Bloods, getting paid a reported £141,470 ($200,000) per episode.
In 1985, at the peak of his time on Magnum P.I., he was earning £353,690 ($500,000) per episode which in today’s money would equal £850,000 ($1.2 million).
In 2015, Selleck settled a lawsuit with Calleguas Municipal Water district for an eye watering £15.28million ($21.6million).
He had been accused of transferring 1.4million gallons of water to his 65-acre avocado ranch during a drought.
Gemma said: “He was big in the eighties and Blue Bloods is a stable revenue stream.
“It feels like most of his acting career was before Friends and Friends was the tail end of it.
“He was a coup for Friends and not the other way round. Ironically his star power helped Friends and everybody make more money.”
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