EXCLUSIVE: Friends star Jane Sibbett reveals the surprising backlash over her iconic character, and why she went above and beyond to fight it

''My own father had a really hard time with that.''

By Maddison Hockey
When it comes to television there are few shows that can be pinpointed as defining an era.
For the 90s (and part of the naughties) it was and still is, Friends.
The hugely popular sitcom was an instant hit, and over two decades on from its very first episode, continues to be universally loved.
It seems the world will always have a very big place in its heart for the cast. However, that wasn't always the case.
Friends became a phenomenon. (supplied)
Chatting exclusively to Now To Love Jane Sibbett, who played Ross Geller's former wife Carol Willick on the show, reveals she faced quite a bit of backlash over her character's sexuality.
"It became apparent soon after [beginning to play Carol] there was suddenly a responsibility about being able to stand up against all of the people that were saying this was wrong, including my own father who had a really hard time with that," Jane recalls.
"I was going toe to toe with people on talk shows in America, who were saying, you know, this and this and this is the reason why you shouldn't be doing this."
Carol left Ross for Susan. (supplied)
The 57-year-old wasn't one to back down in the face of criticism, however, seizing the opportunity to open more people's minds.
"I would have to break things down for them. And I felt like it was really important for me to be super clear; love is the most important, of all the things that we could possibly do love is the most important way forward from anybody.
So, that was my biggest responsibility, to make sure that people knew that."
And, they did. Jane says the response from the "gay community has been amazing" and has even received messages of thanks from all over the world.
Jane took on the role of Carol just days after giving birth. (supplied)
Jane had an "inkling" from the moment she read the pilot Friends had the potential to become the phenomenon it has.
Determined to join the show, nothing would stand in her way, not even giving birth. The actress recounts she was on set just two days after having her son.
"I saw David [Schwimmer] do the longest take I've ever seen in comedy, this, this is, hello, hilarious take, and my babies on my breasts and I literally just went, I have to work with this man. There wasn't even a second thought."

While fans are eagerly awaiting the reunion special promised by HBO Max, the show's creators ruled out ever doing a reboot of the series believing nothing could ever live up to the original.
And, while Jane agrees with his logic, she can't help but hope like many other fans.
"You know, you cannot capture lightening a bottle twice. It's true. But I still think the love between everybody on that show is so palpable. Oh my gosh. Can you imagine what healing that would do on a worldwide level?"
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