Friends star Jane Sibbett faced fierce backlash for playing Ross Geller’s lesbian ex-wife. Even her own dad told her it was ‘wrong’
Friends actor Jane Sibbett has spoken of the backlash she faced for playing Ross Geller’s lesbian ex-wife, revealing that she even clashed with her father over the role.
Throughout the show’s ten-year run Sibbett portrayed Carol Willick, a lesbian woman who raises Ross’ son Ben together with her partner Susan.
The role was hardly controversial by today’s standards, but when she made her debut in 1994 she was met with a barrage of criticism.
“It became apparent soon after there was suddenly a responsibility about being able to stand up against all of the people that were saying this was wrong, including my own father who had a really hard time with that,” she said in an interview with Now to Love.
“I was going toe to toe with people on talk shows in America, who were saying, you know, this and this and this is the reason why you shouldn’t be doing this.”
But Sibbett refused to back down and decided to use her time on the talk show circuit as an opportunity to open minds.
“I would have to break things down for them. And I felt like it was really important for me to be super clear; love is the most important, of all the things that we could possibly do love is the most important way forward from anybody,” she explained.
“So, that was my biggest responsibility, to make sure that people knew that.”
Although the comedy sitcom hasn’t exactly aged well, the response from the LGBT+ community at the time was “amazing” and Sibbett received messages of thanks from all over the world.
The actor said she had an inkling when she read the script for the Friends pilot that the show had the potential to be big, but it was seeing David Schwimmer perform that sealed the deal for her.
“I saw David do the longest take I’ve ever seen in comedy, this, this is, hello, hilarious take … and I literally just went, I have to work with this man. There wasn’t even a second thought.”
Seventeen years after the show’s final episode, Sibbett is set to reprise her role as Carol for an eagerly-awaited reunion special promised by HBO Max. The unscripted special was originally set to shoot mid-March, but was postponed until May 2021 due to coronavirus.