The Friends reunion special was originally set to air on HBO Max in 2020, but it came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Variety, director and producer Ben Winston said, “I watched all 236 episodes, I read a couple of books about Friends, and I met with the cast a few times over Zoom to get to know them better.”
The reunion special was filmed over two days and it was the first time that all of the cast had been in the same room together in 17 years.
Winston got involved with the show after getting a call from its creators and producers Marta Kauffman, David Crane, and Kevin Bright.
“When I meet producers and writers of shows I watched growing up, they’re far more exciting to me than movie and TV stars,” said Winston.
The reunion special was shot in Studio 24, which is one of the main studios at Warner Brothers that is often used for sitcoms.
Winston wanted guests on the show to appear in person. He allowed James Michael Taylor, who played Gunther, to show up remotely.
When asked about his favorite part of the show, Winston said it was “the table reads.”
“I felt like the take reads were really special. We shot them with four cameras around them on a track. It’s a complicated way to shoot because you can’t have the cameras get in each other’s shots. It was quite a science,” said Winston.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, HBO Max released a statement about the show: “Lastly, in order to avoid any misunderstanding about what this special is, we want to make it very clear that this is not a new, original episode of the series. The cast will be appearing as themselves, not as their beloved characters.”
The Friends: The Reunion special was released on Thursday, May 27 exclusively on HBO Max.