Imagine how much differently the classic television sitcom Friends might have felt if, instead of it being Matt LeBlanc to greet pretty ladies with that infamous and amorously intentioned “How YOU doin’?” greeting, it was Hank Azaria.
That’s right - Hank Azaria, who you may know best as being a character actor in several of his films, as well as being the man behind several voices on The Simpsons (like Moe, for example), auditioned not once but twice for the role of “Joey Tribbiani” on the 10 seasons-strong sitcom.
Azaria claims it is the only job he ever auditioned for twice, and he was supposedly rejected just as quickly the second time around as he was on the first. He admits to watching the first season with bitterness, thinking that LeBlanc hadn’t figured out yet what to do with the character and that he could have made a more enjoyable “Joey.”
Though, after some time, when Azaria got a sense of LeBlanc growing more comfortable in his character’s skin, Azaria started to appreciate what LeBlanc brought to the role, finding the latter’s portrayal of “Joey” to be hilarious and genuinely likeable.
Though, Friends buffs know that Azaria finally got his moment in the Friends spotlight when he landed the role of “David, the Science Guy,” Phoebe’s (Lisa Kudrow) boyfriend, in the tenth episode of the first season. The relationship between Phoebe and David was one of the more poignant of those that didn’t last over the course of the series’ run (second to Monica [Courteney Cox] and Richard [Tom Selleck]).
“David” even resurfaced during the ninth season, but his and Phoebe’s relationship sadly was not to be, and Phoebe chose Mike (Paul Rudd) instead to be her husband. But Azaria walked away with an Emmy nomination for his work on the show, so it was a win-win for him, even if it wasn’t so much for his character.
Azaria has been showing up in the news recently for his Parenthood web series on AOL. And no, that’s not the same show as Dax Shepard’s series on NBC. Azaria’s is a documentary that he set out to make where he interviewed some of his friends (celebrity or otherwise) who were fathers in an attempt to determine if he wanted to embrace that lifestyle. But something funny happened during the early stages of Azaria’s creating this documentary - he found out that he was about to become a dad for the first time. There’s no better education than getting thrown right in, eh, Hank?
Some of the celebrities who have appeared on Parenthood to share their nuggets of parental experience with Azaria in an effort to give him more (or less) of a reason to want to become a father include Kevin Bacon, Rainn Wilson, Bryan Cranston, and Tim Robbins. This is a great series for those who might feel alone in a society that thinks there’s something wrong with you if you don’t make being a parent one of your top priorities. It's also helpful to those fathers out there who may feel inadequate in terms of their ability to be the best possible fathers they can be to their children.