E.G. Daily: Forever a Friend of "Friends"

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Whether you know her from one of her numerous appearances in 1980s cult classic movies like Valley Girl, Streets of Fire and Better Off Dead, or as Pee-wee Herman’s adorable girlfriend Dottie in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, or her club hits “Say It, Say It;”  “Love in the Shadows” and “Mind Over Matter,” singer/actor (and acclaimed voice artist) E.G. Daily will always be identified as a Friend of Friends.  Daily was already a recognizable fixture on both big and small screens, and at the time vocally as the voice of Tommy Pickles in Nickelodeon’s Rugrats, when in 1997 she landed the memorable role of Leslie, Phoebe Buffay’s former collaborator in season three’s The One with Phoebe’s Ex-Partner.  In the episode, Leslie (a former advertising jingle writer) performs at Central Perk trying to make amends with Phoebe, who feels Leslie ditched her in favor of a successful career years before and still harbors resentment.  For this Friends fan, landing the part of Leslie (and having an episode named in her honor) was a dream come true.  “Doing [Friends] was really exciting,” Daily excitedly replied when I asked about her guest role.

“I'd watched the show forever and when I got the call for it, it was very last minute,” she continued.  “As a matter of fact, it was about 7 o'clock at night and they were like, ‘We need you to go to Warner Bros. to sing a song and audition for this part.’  I was like, ‘Why is it so late?’  Apparently, they had already hired someone and filmed two days with her, but realized they needed to replace her and needed someone straight away who could sing and play the guitar.”

Knowing she fit the bill, Daily agreed to the last-minute call and hurriedly set out to audition.  “I think one of my kids was still in the bassinet at the time,” she recalled.  “I went in around 8 o'clock that night with my baby in the bassinet, sang a song and booked the job that night!”

If landing the part wasn’t enough, Daily would receive a bonus from the experience. “One of the best parts about it for me was when I went to the set, they introduced me to the director, and it was Robby Benson!”  she shared.  “I was a huge fan of his when I was growing up.  I had a mad crush on him in Ice Castles.  He was so sexy.  We all wanted him to be our boyfriend,” she added with a laugh.  “All of a sudden I'm on the set and I was like, ‘My God, it’s Robby Benson!’  That's all I was [really] excited about.”

“E.G. was wonderful and is [now] good friends with my wife Karla DeVito,” Benson recently told me when I interviewed him about his return to acting in the Hallmark movie A Feeling of Home and about his experiences as a director on Friends.

Given that her storyline centered around Phoebe, Daily shared most of her scenes with Lisa Kudrow.  “She was super fun,” she said.  “We didn't play friends on the show at the time, but I had a lot of fun with her and I kind of played my character a little goofy like [Lisa] did.  I went for a spacey kind of friend because I thought, ‘Who would [Phoebe] hang out with?’  She needed to be someone who was goofy like her.”

The icing on the Friends experience for Daily was actually getting to appear at Central Perk where she performed four songs, including the jingle to “Home Star Stew,” a duet with Phoebe on “Sticky Shoes” and of course Phoebe’s signature tune (after she sold it to an ad agency; a move that would ultimately re-fracture an already fragile friendship).  “Getting to play on the little stage was really cool,” Daily recalled.  “It was classic [just] getting to be on Friends and then singing ‘Smelly Cat!’  That was even more classic.”

It’s a song Daily still includes in her live sets from time-to-time to this day.

“A lot of people remember me from that episode,” she concluded.  “It's on all the time and people always post on social media, ‘Hey guess what I’m watching right now?’ It was such a great opportunity, and a great show.”

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