Surprise revelation behind TV star’s voice
You're probably more likely to recognise Maggie Wheeler by her iconic voice.
The 59-year-old actress was part of the Friends-sphere from its very first season until the last, dipping in and out as Chandler Bing's (Matthew Perry) love interest, Janice Hosenstein.
It turns out that her nasally voice (which is all voice acting) was entirely Wheeler's idea. And if she hadn't have been fired from her pre-Friends acting gig, which interestingly was on Ellen DeGeneres' sitcom, she may have never come up with it.
"I had been on the first season of the Ellen DeGeneres show and I had a great time working on that show - in the beginning it was called These Friends Of Mine - and I was fired from that show, I was devastated," Wheeler told news.com.au as Friends hits streaming on Binge today.
"I was so shaken by it, it was an unthinkable thing as an actor, (but) I felt in a way liberated to do the work I wanted to do without fear or favour.
"On any other day I might have done the (Friends) audition differently, but it came hot on the heels of that and I felt free and decided to do what I wanted to do on that day and it worked in my favour.
"(Friends) wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had to go through the fire."
Wheeler, a proud mum of two daughters, said the casting directors were gobsmacked by her audition as the fast talking New Yorker.
"I distinctly remember I could see them all sit back on the couch, I thought that might not have been what they were looking for," she laughed.
"But I was wrong, and I'm happy I was wrong."
Given her consistent involvement over the sitcom's entire run, Wheeler said it was fascinating to watch how the show exploded in popularity as seasons progressed, and how this impacted the filming experience.
Meaning, they ended up with way more fancy change rooms.
"There was a sense there was a great show in the making but at that point nobody knew what was coming," Wheeler said of the early days filming.
"I think by the end of the first season I realised that it was a rocket to the moon and that I was on it.
"In the beginning it was calm and everybody hung out in this broke down old room playing poker, and dressing rooms were not too much to speak of.
"(But) with every year they got nicer and nicer. The props department would go in and decorate the dressing rooms.
"In the beginning, too, there was lots of time to hang out, and as the show and the cast became more successful people were dashing off to make deals at lunch time."
As for if she took anything from set, it turns out Wheeler has a plethora of Janice memorabilia at home.
"I have a few items of Janice's wardrobe, a few key items, I have a key chain the prop department made for me (for the episode where Chandler pushes Janice out of bed), it's a very clunky hideous keychain, and I'm the proud owner of the gold pants."
Diehard fans will remember the gold pants from the episode "The One With Ross's Library Book" where Janice tells Chandler to call her when his marriage to Monica "goes in the pooper".
While some shows of the era have been dogged by reports of egos and b**ching (hello,Sex And The City) Wheeler wants everyone to know Friends - and it's big six stars - were happy families when the cameras stopped rolling.
"I will say that there was so much camaraderie, it was a family," she said.
Friends is now available to stream on Binge
Originally published as Surprise revelation behind TV star's voice