Lisa Diane Marie Kudrow
(born July 30, 1963) is an Emmy Award
- and SAG
-winning American actress
, best known for her roles as Phoebe Buffay
in the popular television sitcom Friends
and as Valerie Cherish in the HBO
series The Comeback
, which she co-created and produced.
Kudrow was born in Encino, California
, the daughter of Nedra (née Stern), a travel agent, and Lee Kudrow, a headache specialist and physician. She was raised in an upper-middle class Jewish
family and has an older sister, Helene Marla, and an older brother, neurologist David Kudrow. She is the niece of composer/conductor Harold Farberman
. After attending Portola Middle School
in Tarzana, California
, she graduated from Taft High School
in Woodland Hills, California
, and later received her B.S.
from Vassar College
in Biology in 1985. She also took guitar lessons as a child and is left-handed.
Kudrow originally intended to follow in her father's footsteps - researching headaches. However, she was 'discovered' and began her career as an actress.
Kudrow began her comedic career as a member of The Groundlings
, joining the ranks of those such as Will Ferrell
and Janeane Garofalo
. Briefly, Kudrow joined with Conan O'Brien
and director Tim Hillman
in the short-lived improv
troupe Unexpected Company
. She was also the only regular female member of The Transformers Comedy Troupe, a group directed by Stan Wells that currently plays at the Empty Stage Comedy Theatre
. She played a role in an episode of Cheers
opposite Woody Boyd. She tried out for Saturday Night Live
in 1990, but the show chose Julia Sweeney
instead. She had a recurring role in Bob
, Bob Newhart
's third CBS
outing, but her character was eliminated at the end of the first season. She was hired to play the role of Roz
, but the part was re-cast during the filming of the pilot episode because producers didn't think she was right for the part. However, one of the people working on Frasier
also worked on Friends
and suggested Kudrow audition for the show. Her first major television role was Ursula Buffay
, the eccentric waitress on Mad About You
(this character would later appear in Friends
as Phoebe's twin sister). She is also the oldest of all the "friends."
Despite the previous lack of success, this role led to her starring role on Friends as Phoebe Buffay, a role for which she won the 1998 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
She became the first cast member to win it. She played the character from 1994 until the show ended in 2004. The program was hugely successful and Kudrow, along with her co-stars, gained wide renown among television viewers. She was the most Emmy-nominated cast member of the show, totaling six nominations. Kudrow received a salary of one million dollars per episode for the last two seasons of Friends. According to the Guinness Book of World Records (2005), Kudrow (along with her female co-stars) became the highest paid TV actress of all time with her $1 million-per-episode paycheck for the tenth season of Friends.
Her film credits include comedic roles in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Hanging Up, Marci X, Analyze This and its sequel Analyze That. However, Kudrow has also starred in dramatic roles including the biopic Wonderland about the late porn star John Holmes. She has garnered critical acclaim in mostly dramatic roles for writer-director Don Roos in the films The Opposite of Sex and Happy Endings. After Friends, Kudrow portrayed Valerie Cherish, the main character on the HBO original series The Comeback. The series premiered on HBO on June 5, 2005. She also served as co-creator, writer, and executive producer. The show, about a has-been sitcom star trying for a comeback, was not renewed for a second season. Kudrow received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Comeback, making her the first Friends cast member to receive a major award nomination since Friends ended.
She has also lent her voice to a number of animated series, including Hercules, as Aphrodite and during a cameo on The Simpsons as Alexandra Whitney, a student at Springfield Elementary School. Her most recent work is in the movie adaptation of the bestselling novel, PS, I Love You alongside Hilary Swank, in which she plays a supporting role as Denise. Also, she was the voice of the female grizzly bear 'Ava' in the 2001 film sequel Dr. Dolittle 2, starring alongside Steve Zahn (voice) and Eddie Murphy.
Kudrow is also in the upcoming movie Bandslam (formerly titled Rock On), co-starring alongside Gaelan Connell, Vanessa Hudgens and others. She will be playing the role of Karen Burton, Will's mother. Shooting has started in Austin, Texas.
She is currently starring as the lead role in Web Therapy, an online show which she helped write and produce, on the online entertainment channel LStudio.com
Kudrow had a relationship with Conan O'Brien
until he moved to New York to host his TV show
beginning in 1993. On May 27, 1995, Kudrow became the first "Friend" to marry when she wed Michel Stern, a French advertising executive. They have had one son, Julian Murray (born May 7, 1998), and live in the hills above Beverly Hills, California
Kudrow's pregnancy was written into Friends with her character Phoebe having triplets as a surrogate parent for her brother. Kudrow is bilingual, speaking English and French fluently. This was written into an episode of Friends when Phoebe taught Joey French for an audition, and on several other occasions she speaks the odd word of French.
Awards & nominationsEmmy Awards
- 1995 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 1997 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 1998 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Won)
- 1999 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 2000 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 2001 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 2006 - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, "The Comeback" - (Nominated)Golden Globe Awards
- 1996 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, "Friends" (Nominated)Screen Actors Guild Awards
- 1996 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 1999 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 2000 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Won)
- 2004 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)American Comedy Awards
- 1996 - Funniest Supporting Female Performer in a TV Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 1999 - Funniest Supporting Female Performer in a TV Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)
- 1999 - Funniest Female Guest Appearance in a TV Series, "Mad About You" - (Nominated)
- 1999 - Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, "The Opposite of Sex" - (Nominated)
- 2000 - Funniest Supporting Female Performer in a TV Series, "Friends" - (Won)
- 2000 - Funniest Female Performer in a TV Special (Leading or Supporting) Network, Cable or Syndication, "1999 MTV Movie Awards" - (Nominated)
- 2000 - Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, "Analyze This" - (Nominated)
- 2001 - Funniest Supporting Female Performer in a TV Series, "Friends" - (Nominated)