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Seriously, Folks

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His seriousness now firmly established, there remains the question (that conundrum again) of whether people will take him seriously as an actor. “Yes, I’m healthfully concerned about reviewers ripping this apart,” he says. “Maybe they’ll pick on me because this is my first time on Broadway.” In a way, he’s about to face a level of media glare that he’s been spared from for a while, even if it won’t begin to approximate the experience of his good friend, tabloid mainstay Jennifer Aniston. (“I don’t presume to know how she feels about it,” he says. “Most of the time I feel sad about it. I feel grateful that I’m not under that kind of scrutiny.”)

“If someone in a work environment says a racist joke, I’m the kind of person who says, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t find that funny.’ ”

The attention Schwimmer garnered during Friends has abated, naturally, and though his film career hasn’t attained Must-See-TV heights in the two years since the show went off the air, he doesn’t seem to miss the experience much. “I’m incredibly grateful for everything it gave me,” he says. “Not the least of which was the financial stability to now do whatever the hell I want. But I really don’t think about it, unless I’m being asked. How often do you think about your high school?”

But shaking a ten-year character like Ross can be complicated, whether you’re dealing with critics or castmates. “It’s weird,” he says of how he’s viewed by his Caine colleagues, whom he likes a lot. “A big thing for me is the other actors. My feeling is there’s just no room for anyone’s ego. Thank God we’ve been really lucky—there’s twenty guys in the cast, and it’s a great group.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that between-scene bonding has come easily. “I enter a process like this with a completely clean slate,” says Schwimmer. “And I honestly forget that people would be less inclined to say, ‘Hey, you want to grab lunch?’ Just because of who they think I might be. So I sometimes think, Wow, these guys aren’t very friendly to me—they’re asking everybody else if they want to get a bite to eat. And then I realize, Oh, fuck, that’s right. So I make the effort.”


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