TV Show
August 20, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

We place odds on the Friends’ movie careers

The end of ”Friends” is more than a full season away, but that hasn’t stopped the show’s cast from hustling for other work. This month two of Central Perk’s regulars, Jennifer Aniston (”The Good Girl”) and Matthew Perry (”Serving Sara”) have feature films in theaters, and the rest of their coffee klatch isn’t far behind. But upgrading from the small screen to the big one isn’t always a smooth transition. (Remember Matt LeBlanc’s baseball-playing chimp flick ”Ed”? Didn’t think so.) EW.com evaluates which Friends have what it takes to become A-list movie stars, and which ones may want to save their $1 million-per-episode paychecks just in case.

JENNIFER ANISTON With modest performers like 1996’s ”She’s the One,” 1997’s ”Picture Perfect,” 1999’s ”Office Space” and last year’s ”Rock Star,” Aniston hasn’t posed much of a threat to Julia Roberts’ career. But this year the Emmy nominee is trying something a little different. Having shown off her acting chops riding pregnancy’s mood swings on ”Friends,” Aniston is hoping to distract fans from her latest hairstyle by playing a frumpy, adulterous salesgirl in ”The Good Girl.” The blue-collar indie drama is a stereotype-busting move that worked for John Travolta in ”Pulp Fiction,” but that was a looong time ago. ”It used to be a coup to land these indie roles, but now mainstream faces in these movies are a dime a dozen,” says Adam Farasati, media analyst for ReelSource. ”It’s exposure, but it won’t gain her much.” Coming up for Aniston: In next year’s comedy ”Bruce Almighty,” she plays the girlfriend of a persistent whiner (box office darling Jim Carrey). ”If she mixes more predictable choices, like comedies, with the edgy artistic stuff she wants to do, that’s the best road,” explains Box Office Guru analyst Gitesh Pandya. ”Then audiences can decide what they like her in.”
A-LIST ODDS: 2 to 1

COURTENEY COX ARQUETTE Her film career had a promising start (1994’s ”Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” the ”Scream” trilogy) but somehow ended up in the slag heap of straight-to-video hell (”Get Well Soon,” ”The Runner”). Cox doesn’t seem to be in a rush to erase our bad memories of ”3000 Miles to Graceland” either; she has no new movies coming out this year. And even though she’s only five years older than Aniston, Hollywood may consider her too long in the tooth for leading roles. ”She’s just at an age where they won’t offer the same roles as Aniston,” admits Farasati. ”And there’s the cool factor. She’s married to David Arquette, Jennifer Aniston’s married to Brad Pitt. You figure it out.” Ouch.
A-LIST ODDS: 8 to 1

LISA KUDROW She may play the dim-witted Phoebe, but Kudrow’s made some savvy choices when it comes to her movie career (”Analyze This,” ”Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” ”The Opposite of Sex”). Still, leading-lady status has eluded her (the disastrous ”Lucky Numbers,” ”Hanging Up”). ”She’s very much looked at as a supporting player,” says Pandya. ”Even on the show, she’s the sidekick, the Friend who comes by the apartment.” Kudrow’s upcoming film roles could change that: In next year’s comedy ”Marci X,” she plays the beleaguered head of a hard-core rap label opposite fellow cutup Damon Wayans. But even though she’s shown dramatic range in ”The Opposite of Sex,” Kudrow may be stuck with funny fare if she wants starring roles in mainstream movies. ”Both she and Matt LeBlanc are known as the dumb characters,” says Pandya. ”It’s hard to break free of that.”
A-LIST ODDS: 4 to 1

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