Earlier this month, fans of the hit sitcom were gutted when the actor – who played Phoebe Buffay’s husband Mike Hannigan – did not feature on a list of cameo appearances from supporting cast members for the reunion.
Following the retrospective’s debut on Thursday, the reunion’s director Ben Winston has explained why Paul wasn’t involved, along with other notable absentee Cole Sprouse, who played Ross Geller’s son Ben.
Speaking to The Wrap, he said: “Well, we couldn’t have everybody on, because it’s only an hour and 45 minutes. And you’ve got to pay attention — the main nub of the show has got to be about the six cast members.
“So you can’t have too many cameos because of course, there were hundreds of amazing people who were in ‘Friends’ over the years. Sadly, we couldn’t get everybody in.”
Ben also said the pandemic also complicated making the show, insisting producers “invited people who weren’t able to make it”.
“It’s a complicated time to be making television now because, you know, some people couldn’t fly internationally, some people were on other TV or film shoots, some people are in bubbles on stuff,” he said, adding that Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Green, even had to have special permission to leave her bubble on filming for The Morning Show to be part of the reunion.
Explaining timing also proved to be “incredibly difficult”, Ben continued: “I think during a pandemic, it’s really hard to get everybody where you want to be. And the other thing, of course, is we have no flexibility. It was one night that those six [main cast members] were available.”
He added: “I hope people will think about all the great things that are in there rather than the things that aren’t.”
The special retrospective was filled with laughs, tears and nostalgia as Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer looked back at the iconic sitcom.
It marked the first time the main cast had come together on camera for the first time since Friends ended in 2004.
There were a number of revelations and surprises during the episode, including Lisa’s Smelly Cat duet with Lady Gaga and David’s admission that life nearly imitated art for him and Jennifer.
Friends: The Reunion is available to stream on NOW.
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.