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Here's why Paul Rudd and Cole Sprouse weren't part of the 'Friends' reunion

The stars played two key characters, but were not involved in the highly anticipated special.
/ Source: TODAY

When you have 10 seasons of a classic show to catch up on after a 17-year break, some things — and people — are bound not to make the cut.

Paul Rudd, who played Phoebe’s husband, Mike, and Cole Sprouse, who played Ross’ son, Ben, were not part of the “Friends” reunion on HBO, leading some fans to wonder where they were.

Paul Rudd, left with Lisa Kudrow, and Cole Sprouse, right, with David Schwimmer, were not involved in the "Friends" reunion.Getty Images

“Well, we couldn’t have everybody on, because it’s only an hour and 45 minutes,” Ben Winston, who directed the special, told The Wrap. “And you’ve got to pay attention — the main nub of the show has got to be about the six cast members.

“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.”

Winston also said the pandemic created logistical problems when it came to who was able to take part.

“You know, we did invite some people who weren’t able to make it,” he said. “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.”

The reunion was not short on cameos, with several actors who portrayed popular guest stars and recurring characters appearing, including Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles (Ross and Monica’s parents), Maggie Wheeler (Janice), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Tom Selleck (Richard) and Reese Witherspoon (Rachel’s sister Jill).

The cast of "Friends" took a trip down memory lane, much to the delight of the show's fans.Terence Patrick / HBO Max

Winston also said there was only a small window of time to get the special done, given the parameters set by COVID-19.

“I think during a pandemic, it’s really hard to get everybody where you want to be. And the other thing, of course, is we have no flexibility. It was one night that those six (main cast members) were available,” he said.

“The timing of it was incredibly difficult. So, you know, if you weren’t available on the seventh of April at 8 p.m., then, sadly, they weren’t able to be part of it. Yeah, we couldn’t get everybody in. It’s just one of those things. I hope people will think about all the great things that are in there rather than the things that aren’t.”

During the special, stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer reminisced about their time on the landmark sitcom, including Perry opening up about the anxiety he felt if he didn't get a laugh.

The biggest takeaway from the special, though, may have been Aniston and Schwimmer revealing they had mutual crushes.

“We channeled all of our adoration and love for each other into Ross and Rachel,” Aniston said.