Lisa Kudrow

Active - 1989 - Present  |   Born - Jul 30, 1963 in Encino, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Lisa Kudrow first made her name playing Phoebe, the ditzy, New Age member of the titular close-knit pals on NBC's highly successful sitcom Friends. Since then, she has bridged the gap between television and film with undeniable success, winning particular acclaim for her role as an uptight school teacher in Don Roos' The Opposite of Sex (1998).

Born in Encino, California on July 30, 1963, Kudrow earned a degree in biology from Vassar College before beginning her acting career. After college, she joined the Los Angeles improvisational group, The Groundlings, at the urging of family friend Jon Lovitz. Improv paved the way for more work, and Kudrow was soon appearing in bit roles in a number of films. Her first real break didn't come until 1993, when she began appearing on the TV sitcom Mad About You as Ursula, the waitress from hell. Real fame came in 1994, when the actress was cast as Phoebe on Friends; the enormous success of the show gave her both wide recognition and a steady day job.

Kudrow's first leading role on the big screen was as one of the titular heroines (alongside Mira Sorvino) of the 1997 comedy Romy and Michele's High School Reunion; unfortunately, her character was little more than a film version of Phoebe. Fortunately, Kudrow got to widen her range a little further that same year with a starring role in the independent drama Clockwatchers, portraying a struggling actress alongside the likes of Toni Collette and Parker Posey. The following year, Kudrow won raves and critical respect for her turn in The Opposite of Sex, a scathing black comedy in which she gave a comic and poignant performance as an embittered woman coping with the death of her brother, the presence of her best friend's malicious little sister (Christina Ricci), and the romantic attentions of Lyle Lovett. The acclaim she received for her portrayal was complemented the same year with an Emmy Award for her work on Friends. In 1999, Kudrow shared the screen with Robert DeNiro in the comedy Analyze This, and later that year she starred with Diane Keaton and Meg Ryan as three sisters dealing with the imminent death of their irritating father (Walter Matthau) in the comedy Hanging Up, directed by Keaton and written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron.

As the new millenium unfolded, Kudrow would prove to be a strong force on screen, appearing in a number of acclaimed films, like Wonderland, Happy Endings, The Other Woman, Easy A, and in the comedy series Web Therapy.

Movie Highlights

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  • Made her first on-stage appearance in 1988 in a production called The Ladies Room by Robin Schiff. Kudrow would later reprise this role in the movie Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, also written by Schiff.
  • Became a member of the improv-comedy troupe the Groundlings in 1989.
  • Used to date Conan O'Brien.
  • Made her first TV appearance on an episode of Cheers.
  • Had a recurring role as Ursula the waitress on the sitcom Mad About You. Her character Phoebe on Friends was revealed to be the twin sister of Ursula.
  • Was originally cast in the role of Roz on Frasier, but was replaced by Peri Gilpin before filming began.
  • Won the SAG Award in 2000 for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for her work on Friends. Was also nominated in the same category in 1996, 1999 and 2004.
  • Enjoys playing video games with her son Julian.