From 1998 to 2002, we were all following the collegiate adventures of Felicity Porter, as she found love, learned about life, and made one of the most famous hairstyle changes in all of pop culture. The coming-of-age drama was the first foray into television for director/producer J.J. Abrams, and was a star-making role for Keri Russell. Think you know everything there is to know about Felicity, Ben, Noel, Elena, Sean, and the rest of the crew at the University of New York? These interesting bits of behind-the-scenes trivia will really let you in on what was going on.
Abrams wanted Felicity to be his Alias star
Creator J.J. Abrams grew frustrated with the limitations on the stories he could write for Felicity, and began to let his mind wander to more extreme ideas, like what if Felicity turned out to be a spy. Obviously, he couldn’t explore that on his grounded show about college relationships, so he pitched his new show Alias instead. The WB also thought that Abrams’ shift in focus to Alias is what caused Felicity to suffer in its fourth and final season.
Julie was supposed to be a dancer
Felicity’s first college friend was Julie, a guitar player and singer. Originally Julie was written to be a dancer, but actress Amy Jo Johnson revealed to producers after being cast that she didn’t know how to dance, so the character’s musical interest was shifted a bit.
The power (ranger) of friendship
Amy Jo Johnson may not have been a dancer, but she did have some experience with combat. Johnson was the original Pink Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers before being cast on Felicity. Her old role is referenced in the season one Halloween episode, when a girl dressed as the Pink Ranger kisses Ben.
Sean’s finale wedding toast was actually a real toast
Greg Grunberg, who played Sean Blumberg, was actually speaking to his costars when his character gave a toast at Noel’s wedding in the series finale. He knew that Sarah McLachlan would be covering his words in the final edit, so Grunberg used the moment to thank Keri Russell, Scott Speedman, and Scott Foley for their work.
Where’d the music go?
Felicity was one of the first shows to find controversy with music copyrights. For this reason, nearly all of the music used in the original broadcasts is not the same as the songs used for the episodes on DVDs or in syndication.
Even though shows like Friends, Gossip Girl, NYPD Blue, and more were given permission to use the name New York University, the school denied Felicity, stating that it feared the show would portray topics too racy for the university to be associated with. That’s why the college in the show is called University of New York instead.
The killer cut
One of the most iconic images of Felicity was the protagonist’s long curly hair. After season 1 wrapped, Keri Russell played a prank on the producers by sending them a photo of herself in a short-haired wig. The creative team freaked out, but afterwards decided that it would be a good decision for the character, so Russell got her hair cut in real life. The ratings dip at the beginning of the second season was largely blamed on this haircut.
Keri Russell tried to ugly it up to get the part
On her audition day, Russell wore a baggy sweater and put her hair in a bun to try and avoid getting the smaller part of Felicity’s beautiful high school bestie Maya. Creator J.J. Abrams saw through the efforts at unattractiveness, and almost didn’t give her the part because she was too pretty, but changed his mind when he heard her deliver the lines with so much humor.
The write age
One of the writers for Felicity received quite a bit of attention during the show’s airing. Riley Weston was hired as a writer after sending in scripts and presenting herself as a recent high school graduate. Weston was hailed as a prodigy for being able to write so well at a young age, but in actuality she was in her early thirties. Once the WB learned that she had lied about her age, they did not renew her contract.
The Annie-inspired wardrobe
Felicity’s New York style was inspired by the Woody Allen classic Annie Hall. Like Diane Keaton in that role, Russell would wear a fair amount of men’s clothing that was slightly altered. Once Russell got a feel for the manner of dress, she became a stickler for what her character would wear, refusing to wear nail polish, hair accessories, or certain pieces of jewelry that she thought would be too extravagant for Felicity.
Noel is still an active computer geek
Scott Foley’s techy R.A. and on-again-off-again Felicity love interest Noel Crane wasn’t shy about admitting his fondness for computers and graphic design. Apparently, the fictional character is still active online via NoelCrane.com. The site is set up to be a portfolio written by Crane to find a job in graphic design.
The real Sally
Several episodes of Felicity closed with our protagonist listening to cassette tapes sent to her from her high school French tutor and mentor, Sally. It’s through these tapes that we get a clear picture of what’s going through Felicity’s head, and what she might do moving forward. Sally is never seen in person, but you might recognize her famous voice — it belongs to comedian Janeane Garofalo of Wet Hot American Summer and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion fame.
Scott Foley was supposed to play Ben
Foley played the central character of Noel, but he was originally cast to play the man Felicity chooses in the end, Ben Covington. The producers were unable to find someone to play the role of Noel, so they asked Foley to play it and set out to find a new Ben.
Flying right to set
Scott Speedman was a Toronto-based actor before being cast as Ben Covington on Felicity. He sent a videotaped audition to Abrams and Matt Reeves, and then got on a plane to Los Angeles. Three days later he was on set filming the pilot.
The love connections
At least two romances went from the screen to reality thanks to Felicity. Keri Russell and Scott Speedman dated during the later half of the show, and Scott Foley married Jennifer Garner, whom he met when she played his season one girlfriend Hannah.