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Paul Rudd and Cole Sprouse's absence due to 'incredibly difficult' timing of the Friends reunion


Paul Rudd and Cole Sprouse’s absence is explained by director Ben Winston who discusses the ‘incredibly difficult’ timing of the long-awaited Friends reunion amid the COVID-19 pandemic

British producer and director Ben Winston shed some light on a few of the most surprising absences from the long-awaited Friends reunion, which aired on Thursday.

While fans were thrilled to see Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Mathew Perry back together after 17 years, many were upset that Paul Rudd and Cole Sprouse were absent from the HBO special. 

The star’s absences, however, were simply due to the ‘incredibly difficult’ timing of the reunion, which was ‘the one night’ all six of the sitcom’s stars could attend. 

Missed: British producer and director Ben Winston shed some light on a few of the most surprising absences from the long-awaited Friends reunion, which did not include Paul Rudd or Cole Sprouse; seen in 2020

Missed: British producer and director Ben Winston shed some light on a few of the most surprising absences from the long-awaited Friends reunion, which did not include Paul Rudd or Cole Sprouse; seen in 2020

Speaking of why Rudd, who played Phoebe’s eventual husband Mike Hannigan, and  Sprouse, were not present, Winston said: ‘Well, we couldn’t have everybody on, because it’s only an hour and 45 minutes.’

‘You’ve got to pay attention—the main nub of the show has got to be about the six cast members,’ he explained to TheWrap. ‘So you can’t have too many cameos because of course, there were hundreds of amazing people who were in Friends over the years. Sadly, we couldn’t get everybody in.’

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He also noted that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic made travel very difficult for ‘some people’ who were invited, but were shooting projects around the world.  

Incomplete: While fans were thrilled to see Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Mathew Perry back together after 17 years, many were upset that Rudd and Sprouse were absent from the HBO special; seen in 2020

Incomplete: While fans were thrilled to see Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Mathew Perry back together after 17 years, many were upset that Rudd and Sprouse were absent from the HBO special; seen in 2020

Star-studded guest list: The star's absences, however, were simply due to the 'incredibly difficult' timing of the reunion, which was 'the one night' all six of the sitcom's stars could attend

Star-studded guest list: The star’s absences, however, were simply due to the ‘incredibly difficult’ timing of the reunion, which was ‘the one night’ all six of the sitcom’s stars could attend

‘It’s a complicated time to be making television now because, you know, some people couldn’t fly internationally, some people were on other TV or film shoots, some people are in bubbles on stuff,’ he reflected. 

At the time, Rudd was filming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania overseas, while Sprouse was busy shooting Riverdale in Vancouver. 

Friends is arguably one of most successful sitcoms of all time, running for 10 beloved seasons and 235 episodes from 1994 to 2004, and fans had been clamoring for a reunion for many years. 

Rudd played the husband oPhoebe's eventual husband Mike Hannigan

Big role: Rudd played Mike Hannigan, who eventually married Lisa Kudrow’s character Phoebe Buffay

Too cute: Cole was cast to play Ben Geller, Ross Geller's son, on Friends

Too cute: Cole was cast to play Ben Geller, Ross Geller’s son, on Friends

The special – which earned a flurry of reaction from die-hard fans when it launched on HBO Max in the US and Sky Go and Now TV in the UK – also saw a slew of guests make surprise appearances, including David Beckham, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Cindy Crawford.  

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The special was filmed over a three-day period on the Warner Bros. lot, with the iconic fountain from the show used as a backdrop for the cast’s main interview which was hosted by Late Late Show’s James Corden.

The British presenter – whose choice was quite controversial among fans – delved into the making of the show in a lively discussion, and reflected on the moment each actor landed their iconic part.

Reunited! Friends is arguably one of most successful sitcoms of all time, running for 10 beloved seasons and 235 episodes from 1994 to 2004, and fans had been clamoring for a reunion for many years

Reunited! Friends is arguably one of most successful sitcoms of all time, running for 10 beloved seasons and 235 episodes from 1994 to 2004, and fans had been clamoring for a reunion for many years



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