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Friends’ Julie recalls getting lots of “venom” from the show's live audience

Photo: Greg Doherty (Getty Images)

In the long and winding road that was the Ross-and-Rachel relationship on Friends, there were a few speed bumps. One of the first was Julie, Ross’ super-sweet paleontologist girlfriend. In the show’s first season finale, Rachel finds out about Ross’ crush on her (thanks to big-mouthed Chandler) and rushes to meet him at the airport, only to find him with his new girlfriend, Julie, played by Lauren Tom. Julie actually stuck around for several episodes, meaning Tom had plenty to contribute to a recent Today piece celebrating the show’s 25th anniversary, as Vulture pointed out.

As Tom relays to Today, everyone was so into the Ross/Rachel relationship that the audience hated her character, even though she was about the nicest person ever portrayed on the show. “I wasn’t prepared for the amount of venom I was about to receive in a live audience where they actually booed my character… And, of course, I was trying very hard not to get my feelings hurt. So I had to get used to that.” But she did get that Ross and Rachel were an endgame couple, making her position temporary. “Even I was rooting for Rachel, on some level, ’cause I was a fan of the show.”

After her several Friends episodes, Tom went onto other shows like Grace Under Fire, The Division, and Men In Trees, also becoming a regular on animation series like Futurama and King Of The Hill. Still, she says her role as Ross and Rachel’s roadblock 24 years ago is what she still gets recognized for most, about “five times a week.”

I’ve studied classical theater. And I’ve done all the stage work, and tried to position myself at the beginning of my career as a serious actress. And yet, I’m probably most known for Friends, and what people want to know, is Ross a good kisser? So that sort of sums it up. And he is, by the way.

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Don’t worry too much about Julie, though. After all, she did wind up with Ross lookalike Russ.

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Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.