On Friends, Lisa Kudrow’s character Phoebe Buffay was unconcerned with society’s standards of beauty. But, in her actual life, Lisa wasn’t so confident: In a new interview for Saturday Evening Post, the 50-year-old actress said she only came to appreciate hers look after getting a nose job at 16.*
“That was life altering. I went from, in my mind, hideous, to not hideous. I did it the summer before going to a new high school. So there were plenty of people who wouldn’t know how hideous I looked before. That was a good, good, good change,” Lisa said, adding she was previously shunned by classmates.
Even though the plastic surgery boosted her confidence, she quickly realized she couldn’t please everyone.
“In college there was more anti-Semitism than before college, because there were people who never met a Jew before,” Lisa said of her experiences at Vassar. “A friend of mine, when she found out I was Jewish, said, ‘Really? Oh, I don’t like Jews.'”
After graduating from college (which she considered a positive experience in spite of the occasional anti-Semitism), Lisa planned to attend medical school. However, she was dissuaded by her father and brother who knew her heart was really with acting. She instead worked for her dad and auditioned whenever she had the chance.
With a few small jobs under her belt, Lisa landed her break-out role on Friends in the early 1990s. Although Lisa’s since expressed some embarrassment with the way she portrayed the “ditzy” Phoebe, she is glad people still connect with the character.
“Now on Twitter or Facebook I see young girls saying, ‘I identify with Phoebe because I’m different too.’ That’s nice, to think that people who don’t feel they fit in perfectly well can relate to that character.”
*This was the earliest picture of Lisa we could find. These side-by-side pictures are likely “shortly after and a long time after” rather than “before and after” her nose job.