Lisa Kudrow

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"I've stopped making plans!" says Friends star Lisa Kudrow. "You know what everyone says whatever you plan, it's not going to happen". And that's essentially Lisa's life story.

As a little girl, Lisa imagined by her mid-30s she'd be a medical researcher with a husband and a trio of kids at home waiting for supper. But then some of the best laid plans can go astray...

Lisa was born on 30 July, 1963, to Lee, a prominent doctor, and Nedra, a travel agent. The youngest of four children, she grew up in southern California, an awkward girl driving around town with her girlfriends "looking for the party that's going to make your whole year worthwhile".

She graduated from prestigious Vassar College in 1985 with a degree in biology. Acting was never really part of the master plan, but her older brother's friend and Saturday Night Live alum Jon Lovitz suggested she audition for the famed LA improvisational comedy troupe The Groundlings. "I always had this feeling, this urge, that I could act if I dared to," she says. She was accepted into the celebrated club and in 1992 landed the role of Ursula in the US comedy series Mad About You which in turn led to a shot on another high-profile sitcom.

In 1994, Friends launched in the States and suddenly 8pm on Thursday night the programme's home slot became something of a religious experience. The show remained wildly popular for a decade, thanks in no small part to Lisa's brilliant performance in the role of Phoebe Buffay, the massage therapist and cheeky coffee shop singer who made the actress a household name.

While her Friends castmates were making forgettable movies, Lisa chose more off-beat projects, including the acerbic comedy The Opposite Of Sex for which she received a slew of awards. High-profile projects including Analyze This opposite Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro followed. Lisa remains humble about her leading lady status, however, saying: "I prefer to think of myself as a supporting actress opposite some extremely big stars." But as Friends wound up in spring 2004, Lisa may have to accept her new status as a burgeoning star of the silver screen.

Once linked to US chat show host Conan O'Brien, Lisa met her husband, French-born advertising executive Michel Stern, in 1987 when he dated her roommate. "He thought I was just this weird freak," she says. "I wouldn't even smile at him, and I thought he was out of my league." Their paths crossed six years later, and Lisa, just coming out of a relationship, figured he'd do for a quick fling. The two married on May 27, 1995.

"Married the rebound guy," she jokes. A son, Julian Murray, followed in May 1998. "He's definitely cool," says Lisa of her little boy. "Cool and flirty and charming and funny." Like mother like son.
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