Some of you may know that before Friends — and even before her recurring role as a waitress in Mad About You — Lisa Kudrow was originally hired to play Roz on Frasier. That’s not entirely accurate, however. The part was written with Peri Gilpin in mind. That’s who they originally wanted. However, as Lisa Kudrow told the Nerdist podcast, “I just changed their mind for, like, a week. And then they corrected their mistake.”
Why did they switch back to Gilpin? “You could just feel it wasn’t going well at the table read. It was like, ‘Oh!” Kudrow said. However, “they were very nice” about firing her. “They were very, very nice.”
But just because Kudrow would later land on Friends didn’t mean that getting fired at the time was easy for her.
“I was devastated when I got fired,” she said. “That was Frasier! They had the best writers in the world, I mean, Oh My God! … I was definitely very disappointed. I was devastated, and I did wonder if [I] was just one of those people for whom it just doesn’t work out. And this is a big sign, because this was that show that was just going to go forever.”
The devastation didn’t last that long for Kudrow, however. In fact, it was Richard Kind — best known for his roles on Spin City and Mad About You (and the current mayor on Fox’s Gotham) — who helped her out of her funk.
Kudrow: [Richard Kind] called up and he said, ‘I just heard what happened, and I have to say, I don’t know how you can get up, get dressed, leave the house. I don’t know. I don’t know how you’re breathing, walking, talking. It’s devastating. It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.”
Nerdist host Chris Hardwick: Was he doing a bit?
Kudrow: No. No he wasn’t. But it snapped me out of it, because I thought, ‘Oh, but I am. I’m actually getting up. I’m walking.’ I took walks. Something inside of me just said to take walks. Get out in the sun. Go get a chocolate croissant for yourself. And, that sort of snapped me out of it … it made me realize maybe I can handle this. I mean, I’m not that devastated. I mean, I’m functioning!
Less than a year later, Lisa Kudrow had been cast in the pilot of Friends. Interestingly, while it was Frasier that won more Emmys as a show, Lisa Kudrow actually landed five Emmy nominations and a win, while Peri Gilpin was never nominated for her performance as Roz (though, unquestionably, she was the perfect choice).