Characters who are just talked about or never have their faces shown is an old trope in television history. It started to become more refined in the 1990s when three particular sitcoms were doing this at the same time. Home Improvement, of course, had Mr. Wilson who hid his face over a fence, Frasier had unseen Maris, and Friends had “Ugly Naked Guy.”
These are just a few examples, but Ugly Naked Guy has become somewhat legendary in Friends lore. Those who know the history of the show remember this character as living across the hall from Monica (Courtney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and who was only seen twice. Each time, his face was never shown, providing a mystery for years who the actor was.
For those curious, it apparently was the same acting extra all along, though not a household name.
How long did it take before the Ugly Naked Guy actor was outed?
The cast and production crew of Friends kept the identity of Ugly Naked Guy secret for years after the show ended, only because they didn’t know. It’s too bad the actor who played him couldn’t have capitalized on this to help him find more acting work.
Some things just work out that way, though he was seen enough in profile where most of his body was visible. After all, this literally was a slob who answered his door without any clothes on. He was also clearly overweight and had red hair in the two brief times he was seen, giving perhaps a new test of Friends jokes that won’t land in today’s times.
Only on the show for three years, the curiosity of who this actor was became so great, a reporter at HuffPost took a year out to track him down. In 2016, reporter Todd Van Luling did an extensive digital search for the actor and finally came up with a name.
During Van Luling’s research, he initially thought it was actor Michael Hagerty who was better known as playing Mr. Treeger. When Hagerty denied playing Ugly Naked Guy, Van Luling continued with a grueling and near fruitless search.
Do people know who Ugly Naked Guy is?
What’s most bizarre about this story is many of the cast and those from central casting didn’t even remember who the actor was. Casting for the part didn’t seem too important at the time when deadlines were probably constant stress.
After a year of reaching out to people involved with Friends and detailed online research, Van Luling finally linked up with someone who remembered. Jennifer Bender worked in central casting and said the actor who played Ugly Naked Guy came in for a reunion.
There was finally a name to the body, and his name is John Haugen. Or, at least Haugen claimed he was the extra behind the character.
On his IMDb page, he does receive credit for playing the role, despite no real empirical evidence being made available from casting he was the one. Van Luling had to take Haugen’s word for it. Regardless, based on publicity photos of Haugen at the time, they seem to match up based on strategic side shots with Schwimmer’s Ross.
Will Ugly Naked Guy show up if there is a ‘Friends’ reboot or reunion?
When Aniston announced recently there may be some kind of Friends reunion done on HBO Max soon, it had everybody excited at what that might entail. Even if it’s just a short segment to show fans where the characters are now, it’ll probably be expected to have some other character cameos.
Would Ugly Naked Guy make a comeback and maybe show his face to the world? Haugen has apparently gone 20 years without any other acting roles, outside of initially being forced to keep the identity of Ugly Naked Guy a secret by Warner Bros. request.
In today’s times, gaining more acting work for playing a naked guy in a TV show would seem almost like a typical showbiz scenario.
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