Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: David Schwimmer
Birthdate: November 2, 1966
Famous Years: 1991-Present
Currently Known For: Will & Grace
|Networth: $85 Million||Famous For: Friends, Madagascar, Six Days, Seven Nights|
November 2, 1966
Will & Grace
Friends, Madagascar, Six Days, Seven Nights
“Friends” was one of those shows that seemed to just resonate with a broad audience, becoming one of the biggest hits in network television. The show wouldn’t have worked as well if all of the characters weren’t perfectly cast with an interesting story, which included Ross Geller. That role would be played masterfully by David Schwimmer, who’s still known for that same role to this day.
Schwimmer was born on November 2, 1966 in Queens, New York before heading to Los Angeles as a child and almost immediately getting into acting. While he was a teenager, Schwimmer would appear on stage multiple times and showed a lot of promise, and wanted to start acting at 18 years old. Instead, he’d put that on hold for a few years as he attended Northwestern University near Chicago, and moved back to L.A. after earning his degree to make his debut on screen at 22 years old in a TV movie.
It didn’t take long for Schwimmer to find regular work as he appeared on shows such as “NYPD Blue” and “Monty”, but the best was still yet to come. “Friends” was being developed in 1994, with Ross being written with Schwimmer in mind. Schwimmer had almost turned it down, but ultimately decided to accept the role and was the first piece of the puzzle. Later on, the other main characters would be cast, including Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox.
While “Friends” was still on the air, he would start to find himself starring on the big screen. In 1996, he had his first starring role in a major film with “The Pallbearer”, a romantic comedy, but it would end up being a bomb. At the time, he was even nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for his performance as “Worst New Star.” However, he still had a role that was lined up that could have cemented him as a movie star.
That role was in “Men in Black”, as Schwimmer had signed a deal with Miramax to appear in multiple films. Schwimmer said he would sign the deal based on the contingency that his production company from years before allowed him to direct the TV film “Since You’ve Been Gone” that debuted in 1998. One of the films that he signed on for was “Men in Black” in his contract, but it didn’t come to fruition.
“About a month before production (for his TV movie), I get the call about ‘Men in Black’,” he said. “Which was a direct conflict with directing that film; I just said, ‘I can’t. These are my closest friends in the world, this is their first shot at a movie, my first shot at directing. I can’t push it back because I’ve gotta go back to work on ‘Friends’ in the fall.’ That’s what ended up happening.”
Regardless, “Friends” would continue to be a cultural phenomenon, which served just fine for Schwimmer. He’d also star in “Friends”-era movies such as “Kissing a Fool”, “Six Days, Seven Nights” and “Picking Up the Pieces”. As for “Men in Black”, his role would go to Will Smith, which helped launch one of the biggest movie careers ever.
Towards the end of the show’s run, Schwimmer said that he and the rest of the cast had started to get bogged down, despite making a reported $1 million each per episode. “I think that we all felt (like) ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ at one time or another,” he said. “When you’re playing the same character for a decade it’s natural that there are moments when you want to try something new.”
In 2004, “Friends” would come to an end after a decade on the air of being one of the most popular shows in TV history. The finale, “The Last One”, aired on May 6 that year, and was the fourth-most watched TV series finale in history with 52.5 million people tuning in. Only “M*A*S*H”, “Cheers” and “Seinfeld” had higher rated finales.
While some would want to capitalize on their network fame, especially after a show like “Friends” had been so successful, Schwimmer became more reserved. “The biggest effect celebrity had on me was that I stopped being open and receptive and started to walk around with my head down,” he said. “I really believe that, as an actor, you should be constantly studying other people, and celebrity had the absolute opposite effect on me. It made me want to hide. To run away and hide.”
Schwimmer didn’t wait long to get back to work after “Friends”, though, but wasn’t featured prominently on camera. Instead, he voiced the giraffe Melman in the 2005 film “Madagascar” and its two sequels since then. He’d also star in some independent films, but has mostly stayed away from the major blockbuster productions since “Friends” wrapped. Instead, he’d be more interested in getting behind the camera, and has directed the films “Run, Fatboy, Run” and “Trust”, as well as adding some TV work.
Schwimmer’s most notable appearance as an actor over the past few years came in 2016 when he played the role of Robert Kardashian in the miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”. The role would be an Emmy-nominated one, and he took on a starring role the same year in “Feed the Beast”, though it was cancelled after one season. Now, Schwimmer will be returning to NBC for the 10th season of the revived sitcom “Will and Grace”.