Julia Sweeney Recalls Hoping Lisa Kudrow 'Gets Something' After Beating Her for SNL Job 4 Years Before Friends

Lisa Kudrow might have Julia Sweeney to thank for her career

Published Time: 02.07.2024 - 02:31:08 Modified Time: 02.07.2024 - 02:31:08

Lisa Kudrow might have Julia Sweeney to thank for her career.

On Friday, June 28, Sweeney and other Saturday Night Live alums gathered in Los Angeles to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Groundlings improv theater — an event that PEOPLE exclusively covered.

During a panel with comedians, including Jon Lovitz, Cheri Oteri and Will Forte, Sweeney, 64, revealed who she was up against for her spot on SNL in 1990.

Sweeney was asked whether it was "a little cryptic or confusing" before she was officially cast on the late-night sketch comedy show, and she joked that it was "like you're in a confusing relationship with somebody that you don't know if you're going out or not."

"'Are we a couple? We act like we're a couple,'" she recalled thinking.

She remembered that "every week, a new, slightly higher-up person from SNL would come see the Groundling show, and then it kind of got down to me and Lisa Kudrow."

Sweeney was then asked to "go to New York and audition" – and she was hired — but added, "I remember thinking, 'Oh, I hope that Lisa gets something. She deserves to work.'"

Just four years later, Kudrow landed more than a little "something" as she was cast as Phoebe Buffay in Friends. The breakout role would go on to launch her career — as well as that of her costars Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, and Jennif -

er Aniston.

Kudrow, 60, has a similar recollection of coming close to getting a spot on SNL via The Groundlings, but it going to Sweeney instead.

"That was the right thing," she said of the casting decision during a 2021 interview on The Howard Stern Show. "I don't think they were seriously looking at me. I think it was, 'As long as you're looking at Julia, take a look at her, too.'"

"And I know Laraine Newman — that was everything to me, I don't care what happened next. That Laraine Newman thought I was good enough to say, 'You guys should look at her.' But mostly they were there for Julia, for real," she added.

Kudrow went on to host SNL in 1997 alongside her Friends costar, Perry. Two years prior, Cox and Schwimmer had hosted together, and Aniston hosted in 1999 and 2004.

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Like Kudrow, Aniston had also almost ended up on SNL, though she said she passed on the opportunity to audition due to it feeling like "a boys club."

"I didn't think I would like that environment," she recalled on The Howard Stern Show — a sentiment she shared with showrunner Lorne Michaels, as she said she told him, "I think that women need to be treated better here."

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