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    ‘Friends’ Director Reveals Julia Roberts Experienced “Stage Fright” While Shooting In Front Of Live Audience

    No one would perhaps imagine a star as commendable as Julia Roberts feeling nervous while performing. Despite being one of the biggest movie stars at the time, the actress experienced some nerves while guest-starring in the two-part ‘Friends‘ episode The One After the Super Bowl‘ in 1996.

    According to episode director Michael Lembeck, Roberts had already acted in hit films like ‘Pretty Woman‘, ‘Hook’ and ‘The Pelican Brief‘ when she acted on ‘Friends‘. But that did not stop her from feeling nervous about performing in front of a live studio audience.

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    ‘Friends’ Director Talks About Julia Roberts’ “Anxiety” Over Performing In Front Of A Live Audience

    Still from 'Friends'
    Still from ‘Friends’

    In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Friends director Michael Lembeck explained that Julia Roberts was entirely new to performing on stage. The last she performed in front of a live audience was when she was 15 years old and had to replace another actor on Broadway in ‘Agnes of God‘.

    The night of the shoot, we held hands and we were just watching the process and I thought, ‘I am going to get gangrene if she squeezes my right hand any tighter.’ That was just anxiety, you know, stage fright in real life. As good as she was during the week, she hasn’t performed,” he said during the interview.

    Julia Roberts played the character of Susie, a childhood classmate of Matthew Perry’s character, Chandler Bing. In the episode, Susie seeks revenge on Chandler who once embarrassed her in school. To do so, she tricks him into wearing her underwear in a restaurant bathroom and then leaves him stranded without his clothes.

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    Julia Roberts’ Live Audience Helped Her Get A Footing Of Her Character

    Still from 'Friends'
    Still from ‘Friends’

    Despite her initial nervousness, Julia Roberts managed to pull off acting in front of the live audience with help from them to find her footing. As she performed and received laughs, her confidence grew, and she got comfortable and adapted to her role effectively. Lembeck noted that the change in her acting was quite visible very quickly.

    So we’ve been rehearsing all week, and Julia and Matthew are enjoying time off the set as well as on the set and they get onto the couch for their first scene and she’s green,” Lembeck said.

    However, as she continued to perform, she got comfortable with the audience’s response. “She was doing the scene and she got her first and a second laugh,” Lembeck said. “And Matthew flubs a line and the audience loves it. You can see her whole posture change and you see this bubble come up over her head: ‘Oh, yeah, I know this. I remember how to do this.’ And then she just became a beast in her subsequent scenes,” he added.

    Eventually, Roberts’ portrayal of Susie became a memorable part of ‘Friends‘ history and is still looked up to.

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    Aishwarya
    Aishwaryahttps://firstcuriosity.com/
    Aishwarya is a Senior Sub-Editor at First Curiosity. Working as a news writer for over 3 years, she has written on an array of things for a couple of media houses in different capacities. With writing as her outlet, she is now exploring the world of art and glamour. Her love for films and writing stems from her fondness for words and all things artsy. An avid reader and writer alike, Aishwarya likes to delve into any and all forms of art.
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