Freddie Prinze Jr. says Tom Hanks was supposed to play Sandy on Friends
Audiences met Sandy in the 200th episode of the long-running sitcom titled “The One With the Male Nanny,” in which Prinze played the titular character with a somewhat unorthodox job. He comes into the lives of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross (David Schwimmer) as the on-again/off-again couple search for a nanny for their baby daughter, Emma. Ross doesn’t approve of Sandy the “manny,” taking issue with the fact that a man is so sensitive. Ross ends up firing the caregiver, but only after Sandy manages to help him get more in touch with his own emotions.
Prinze only played the character in one episode, and says he wasn’t the first actor they had in mind for the role.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be [Sandy], that was originally offered to Tom Hanks but he wasn’t gonna make it back from his film on time,” Prinze tells EW. “And so my agent called me and said, ‘Do you want to be on Friends? And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do an episode of Friends. That’ll be great.’ He said, ‘Yeah, it shoots tomorrow.’ and I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yes, tomorrow so I’ll send you the script.'”
Prinze says he arrived on set the next day where he had an encounter with series star Schwimmer.
“So I went in and I was totally nervous because it was on the day of shooting. I didn’t even get to do a read-through,” he explains. “And David Schwimmer walked into my dressing room and he was so cool and so passionate and he had so much energy. He came into the room and was like, ‘You’re going to love this, man. It’s like a little two-act play and the crowd is so engaged, and so into it. You’ll have a ton of fun, don’t worry about a thing.’
Sandy’s bag of tricks for lulling Emma to sleep includes playing the recorder, something Prinze learned how to do on the spot.
“I had just learned for the last like four hours of my day there how to play ‘Greensleeves’ on the recorder because I’d never played it before. And [Schwimmer] was like, ‘I heard you practicing, man. You’re going to crush the song,'” Prinze recalls. “I told him he shouldn’t have said that because it’s bad luck. But he was like, ‘No! You’re going to crush it.'”
Schwimmer was right; Prinze was able to nail the song. The actor says he was proud to have played the song “without messing up” even though he confessed to not being a musical person.
“I cannot play musical instruments, but I can handle the third-grade recorder. It was a very good experience and a fun time. But I do think that the Thanksgiving episodes are better than mine,” he says during the call with EW, which took place as Prinze was answering the phone for the day at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.
Prinze isn’t sure there’s a place for Sandy in the potential Friends reunion reportedly on the horizon, but, as a big fan of the show, he has plenty of ideas for who he would like to see pop up.
“I have no idea if we’ll see Sandy in the reunion, you’d have to ask them that,” he says. “I don’t know that he was a memorable enough character to make the cut. If they got someone like Paul Rudd to come back in his role so we can see what he’s been up to since then, I think that would probably be more exciting. Or if they could pull off another Brad Pitt, or a creepy Winona Ryder performance that would be great too. Those are my favorite guest stars that they brought in.”
And for anyone out there who claims to not be a fan of the series, Prinze is calling you out. He believes anyone with negative comments about Friends is just trying to be cool.
“I watched like everybody else did,” he says. “People who say they didn’t watch or don’t like Friends, I genuinely think that they’re lying. Younger people love to talk trash about stuff that older people like. Like, ‘Oh, I didn’t watch that.’ So I’m just like, ‘Nah, it was on forever. So I’m pretty sure you did.'”
EW reached out to Warner Bros. and Hanks for comment about casting Sandy and will update if we hear back.