Not only is Tom Hanks the nicest guy in Hollywood, he’s also had quite the career. From television (Bosom Buddies) to the big screen (he’s a five-time Oscar nominee, two-time winner), his trajectory has been nothing short of incredible.
Part of that trajectory nearly involved a return to television in 2002 — and on one of the biggest shows of all time, no less. Friends, which was signing up big-name guest stars left and right, was looking for just the right person to play the nanny for Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross’ (David Schwimmer) daughter, Emma, and they wanted Hanks for the role in the show’s 200th episode. Unfortunately there was a scheduling conflict so they went with their next choice: Freddie Prinze Jr. “I wasn’t even supposed to be [Sandy], that was originally offered to Tom Hanks but he wasn’t gonna make it back from his film on time,” Prinze told Entertainment Weekly. “And so my agent called me and said, ‘Do you want to be on Friends? And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do an episode of Friends. That’ll be great.’ He said, ‘Yeah, it shoots tomorrow.’ and I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yes, tomorrow so I’ll send you the script.'” And Sandy the manny was born.
Prinze recalled how “totally nervous” he was about the last-minute gig but Schwimmer put him at ease, describing him as “so cool and so passionate and he had so much energy,” adding, “He came into the room and was like, ‘You’re going to love this, man. It’s like a little two-act play and the crowd is so engaged, and so into it. You’ll have a ton of fun, don’t worry about a thing.'” Which is exactly what Freddie needed to hear.
Prinze also found out the day of filming that he had play the recorder (ahhh, the soothing sounds of “Greensleeves”) and Schwimmer reassured him once again, telling him he was going to “crush the song.” And, of course, Prinze nailed it.
Sandy appeared in only the one episode, fittingly called “The One With the Male Nanny.” Rachel adored him but Ross wasn’t a fan of how sensitive Sandy was, from all the tears to the knitting to his musical instrument of choice (though he did marvel at his baking skills). But because of Ross’ discomfort with Sandy, he was forced to fire him — and that’s when things got messy.
In 2002, around the time of filming, Hanks was promoting Catch Me If You Can, and spinning My Big Fat Greek Wedding into its own TV show. Meanwhile, Prinze had starred in the live-action Scooby-Doo earlier that year, so not necessarily the first person that comes to mind as a backup for Hanks, but Prinze ended up working out great. But not important enough to return for any kind of reunion.
“I have no idea if we’ll see Sandy in the reunion, you’d have to ask them that,” Freddie said. “I don’t know that he was a memorable enough character to make the cut. If they got someone like Paul Rudd to come back in his role so we can see what he’s been up to since then, I think that would probably be more exciting. Or if they could pull off another Brad Pitt, or a creepy Winona Ryder performance that would be great too.” From Freddie’s lips to the reunion