Friends Central

Lisa Valerie Kudrow (born July 30, 1963) is an American actress best known for playing the role of Phoebe Buffay and her twin sister, Ursula, on Friends. Along with the rest of the main cast, she participated in the 2021 reunion special Friends: The Reunion.


Lisa's Early life[]

Lisa 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, Lisa 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 in Frasier, 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 Lisa 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).

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 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 World Book of 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 been a voice over for the animated series Hercules, as Aphrodite. 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.

In May 2021, she participated in the special episode Friends: The Reunion.

Personal life[]

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, Lisa 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). Lisa's pregnancy was written into Friends with her character Phoebe having triplets as a surrogate parent for her brother. It's been noted that she is a fan of Sheryl Crow and Shania Twain music.

Official Account[]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Overdrawn at the Memory Bank Extra
1986 America 3000 Warrior Women Leader Uncredited
1989 L.A. on $5 a Day Charmer
1991 To the Moon, Alice Friend of Perky Girl Short film
The Unborn Louisa
1992 Dance with Death Millie
In the Heat of Passion Esther
1994 In the Heat of Passion 2: Unfaithful Teller
1995 The Crazysitter Adrian Wexler-Jones
1996 Mother Linda
1997 Romy and Michele's High School Reunion Michele Weinberger
Clockwatchers Paula
Hacks Reading Woman
1998 The Opposite of Sex Lucia DeLury
1999 Analyze This Laura MacNamara Sobel
2000 Hanging Up Maddy Mozell
Lucky Numbers Crystal
2001 All Over the Guy Marie
Dr. Dolittle 2 Ava Voice
2002 Bark! Dr. Darla Portnoy
Analyze That Laura Sobel
2003 Marci X Marci Field
Wonderland Sharon Holmes
2005 Happy Endings Mamie
2007 Kabluey Leslie
P.S. I Love You Denise
2009 Hotel for Dogs Lois Scudder
Powder Blue Sally
Paper Man Claire Dunn
Bandslam Karen Burton
The Other Woman Dr. Carolyn Soule
2010 Easy A Mrs. Griffith
2014 Neighbors Carol Gladstone
2016 El Americano: The Movie Lucille Voice
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Carol Gladstone
The Girl on the Train Martha
2017 Table 19 Bina Kepp
The Boss Baby Janice Templeton Voice
2018 Lovesick Fool – Love in the Age of Like Ozma Voice, Short film
2019 Long Shot Katherine
Booksmart Charmaine Antsler
2020 Like a Boss Shay Whitmore
2021 The Boss Baby: Family Business Janice Templeton Voice
2022 Better Nate Than Ever Heidi
TBA The Parenting


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Married to the Mob Pilot
Cheers Emily Episode: "Two Girls for Every Boyd"
Just Temporary Nicole Television film
1990 Newhart Sada Episode: "The Last Newhart"
Life Goes On Stella Episode: "Becca and the Band"
1991 Murder in High Places Miss Stich Television film
1992 Room for Two Woman in Black Episode: "Not Quite... Room for Two"
1993 Flying Blind Amy Episode: "My Dinner with Brad Schimmel"
Bob Kathy Fleisher 3 episodes
1993–1999 Mad About You Ursula Buffay 24 episodes
1993–1994 Coach Lauren / Nurse Alice 2 episodes
1994–2004 Friends Phoebe Buffay Main role, 236 episodes
1995–2001 Ursula Buffay Recurring role, 8 episodes
1996 Hope & Gloria Phoebe Buffay Episode: "A New York Story"
Duckman Female Beta Maxians Voice, episode: "The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role"
Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Lisa Kudrow/Sheryl Crow"
1997 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Lisa Voice, episode: "Reunion"
1998 The Simpsons Alex Whitney Voice, episode: "Lard of the Dance"
1998–1999 Hercules Aphrodite Voice, 4 episodes
2001 King of the Hill Marjorie Pittman Voice, episode: "The Exterminator"
Blue's Clues Dr. Stork Voice, episode: "The Baby's Here!"
2005 Father of the Pride Foo-Lin Voice, 2 episodes
Hopeless Pictures Sandy Voice, 2 episodes
2005, 2014 The Comeback Valerie Cherish 21 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2006 American Dad! Ghost of Christmas Past Voice, episode: "The Best Christmas Story Never Told"
2008–2014 Web Therapy Fiona Wallice 132 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2010 Cougar Town Dr. Amy Evans Episode: "Rhino Skin"
2010–present Who Do You Think You Are? Herself Executive producer; Episode: "Lisa Kudrow"
2011 Allen Gregory Sheila Voice, episode: "Mom Sizemore"
2011–2015 Web Therapy Fiona Wallice 44 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2013 Wendell and Vinnie Natasha Episode: "Swindel & Vinnie"
Scandal Congresswoman Josephine Marcus 4 episodes
2015 BoJack Horseman Wanda Pierce Voice, 7 episodes
2016 Angie Tribeca Monica Vivarquar Episode: "Pilot"
Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows Herself Television documentary
2016–2019 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Fairy Godmother, Lori-Ann Schmidt 3 episodes
2017 RuPaul's Drag Race Guest Episode: "She Done Already Done Brought It On"
2018 Grace and Frankie Sheree 3 episodes
Bright Futures Narrator Unsold television pilot
2018–present 25 Words or Less Herself Recurring guest, also executive producer
2019 Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas Television film, executive producer
2020 The Good Place Hypatia Episode: "Patty"
Space Force Maggie Naird Recurring role
Death to 2020 Jeanetta Grace Susan Television special
2020–2021 Feel Good Linda Main role
2021 Friends: The Reunion Herself HBO Max special; also executive producer
History of the Sitcom Herself Television documentary
2021-present HouseBroken Honey Voice, main role
2022 Celebrity Iou Herself HGTV
Rick and Morty Tyrannosaurus Voice, episode: "JuRicksic Mort"
TBA Time Bandits Penelope Upcoming miniseries

Awards & nominations[]

Emmy 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)


External links[]