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Tom Hanks almost guest-starred in memorable 'Friends' episode

The "Big" star was going to play a role that eventually went to Freddie Prinze Jr.
/ Source: TODAY

Imagine Tom Hanks playing a sensitive male nanny on "Friends" who helps Ross get more in touch with his feelings.

It almost happened, according to Freddie Prinze Jr., who got the part of the "manny" named Sandy in the show's 200th episode, "The One With the Nanny," which originally aired in 2002.

Tom Hanks on "Friends"? It almost happened.
Tom Hanks on "Friends"? It almost happened. NBC, Getty Images

"I wasn’t even supposed to be (Sandy), that was originally offered to Tom Hanks but he wasn’t gonna make it back from his film on time,” Prinze told Entertainment Weekly. “And so my agent called me and said, ‘Do you want to be on Friends?' And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do an episode of Friends. That’ll be great.’ He said, ‘Yeah, it shoots tomorrow.’ and I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yes, tomorrow so I’ll send you the script.'”

Prinze, who is part of the upcoming "Punky Brewster" reboot, portrayed the recorder-playing puppetmaster of a nanny who cries easily and is eventually fired by Ross.

"I cannot play musical instruments, but I can handle the third-grade recorder,'' Prinze said. "It was a very good experience and a fun time."

The party of Sandy the male nanny went to Freddie Prinze Jr. in the 200th episode of the hit show. NBC

It would've marked a rare television appearance for Hanks at a time when he had become a major Hollywood star.

The "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" star began his career in television on shows like "Bosom Buddies" and "Family Ties" in the 1980s, but by that time he was an Oscar winner and had two movies coming out that year in "Catch Me If You Can" and "Road to Perdition."

Missing out on the small role on "Friends" also pales in comparison to some of the famous movie roles that Hanks nearly played over the years.

He was one of the actors approached to play Harry in "When Harry Met Sally," who was portrayed by Billy Crystal, according to director Rob Reiner.

Director Harold Ramis told The Hollywood Reporter in 2009 that he initially wanted Hanks for Bill Murray's part in "Groundhog Day." Hanks also famously passed on playing Andy Dufresne in "The Shawshank Redemption," according to Vanity Fair.