David Schwimmer rose to prominence as the lovable nerdy paleontologist Ross Geller on the iconic sitcom Friends. The role made him a household name and cemented his place in TV history. He even earned his first Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series in 1995. But while the actor seemed ready to take on the world when the pop culture phenomenon ended its ten-season run in 2004, his fame hasn’t sky-rocketed as fans had once expected.
From questionable career moves and big-screen criticism to possible co-star kerfuffles and scandalous lawsuits, Schwimmer has gone through quite a lot over the years — and, unfortunately, all the drama has left a permanent mark on his career. But could Schwimmer rebuild his reputation gig by gig and restore his career to its former glory?
Well, let’s first answer the question on everyone’s minds: Why won’t Hollywood cast David Schwimmer anymore?
He struggled with fame
Schwimmer became an overnight sensation in 1994, but quickly learned that fame wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“It was pretty jarring and it messed with my relationship to other people in a way that took years, I think, for me to adjust to and become comfortable with,” the actor said on the Awards Chatter podcast in 2016. “It made me want to hide under a baseball cap and not be seen.” Striking a balance between work and celebrity was “tricky,” he added. “I was trying to figure out: How do I be an actor in this new world, in this new situation? How do I do my job?”
He disappeared behind the scenes
After Friends went off the air, Schwimmer turned his attention to directing—with varied levels of success.
He made his film directorial debut with the British-American comedy Run Fatboy Run in 2007. While the movie received mixed reviews, it did well at the box office, earning the green director a British Independent Film Award nomination for best debut. Schwimmer went on to direct 2010’s Trust, a sex abuse drama which garnered generally favorable reviews, but was a box office flop.
His TV directorial work has included Little Britain USA, Growing Up With Fisher, and Joey, Matt LeBlanc’s failed Friends spin-off.
His on-screen work was underappreciated
Schwimmer’s heartbreaking performance in the 2005 drama Duane Hopwood was regarded as one of his strongest, but few have actually seen it.
“It’s not a comedy. I play a father struggling with alcohol, divorce, and the custody of his two daughters,” he told The Independent at the time. “I’m really proud of that film, it was like a real role in a real story.”
Famed critic Roger Ebert loved it. Calling Duane Hopwood “one of the best movies of 2005.” He singled out Schwimmer’s work as a “career-transforming performance.” Unfortunately, the indie flick saw only a limited release after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, and received mixed reviews.
He’s heard, but not seen
Surprisingly, one of Schwimmer’s most successful acting roles was one that didn’t even require him to appear on screen. In 2005, he voiced Melman, the panic-stricken, hypochondriac giraffe in the DreamWorks moneymaker Madagascar. While the computer-animated film earned mixed reviews — Metacritic gave it a score of 57 — The Washington Post felt that Schwimmer was “particularly appealing” as the fan-favorite character.
Regardless of its less-than-stellar ratings, the kid-friendly comedy raked in hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and was a bonafide box office smash. With two sequels, a spin-off TV show, multiple TV shorts, and a fourth movie slated for May 2018 (via The Hollywood Reporter), the Madagascar series has officially become a full-blown hit franchise. And that could only mean good things for Schwimmer, as his character is one of the leads of the series alongside Ben Stiller’s lion Alex, Chris Rock’s zebra Marty, and Jada Pinkett Smith’s hippo Gloria.
He returned to the stage
Schwimmer further distanced himself from Hollywood when he returned to his first love: the theatre. In 2005, he made his West End debut, starring as a man who’s about to get married in Neil LaBute’s comedy Some Girl(s).
“I’m sure there will be people … saying it’s just Ross up there,” he told The Independent. “And I’ll take that … really hard actually.”
Let’s hope Schwimmer doesn’t read the Daily Mail, which, sure enough, referred to him as “Ross from Friends.” According to the publication (via BBC News), “the performance he gives…is so similar to what he does on the sitcom that it barely seems worth the bother.”
Despite the depressing feedback, Schwimmer continued pursuing stage work, making his Broadway debut in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial in 2006, appearing in Chicago’s Our Town in 2009, and going Off-Broadway with Detroit in 2012.
He was embroiled in a defamation lawsuit
Schwimmer nearly had his nice guy reputation ruined when former charity fundraiser Aaron Tonken alleged that the actor demanded two Rolex watches in exchange for appearing at a charity event.
The actor sued for defamation in 2006, and won $400,000. Tonken, who received a five-year prison sentence for fraud in an unrelated case, eventually retracted his statements about Schwimmer and apologized.
“I feel vindicated by the judgment,” Schwimmer said at the time. “I am pleased that Aaron Tonken has set the record straight and admitted that his statements about me … were untrue.”
Critics questioned his skills as a director
Schwimmer brought his directorial expertise to the stage with the 2008 premiere of Stephen Belber’s dark comedy Fault Lines, but critics didn’t know what to make of his directorial hand.
While the New York Post hailed Schwimmer as someone who “knows a thing or two about freewheeling banter,” AM New York had a much harsher take on the production. “Based on Fault Lines … we can’t really tell whether Schwimmer has much talent as a director,” its critic said. “We’re surprised he didn’t try something more challenging for his debut. If not much else, Schwimmer has encouraged his actors to intense their energy levels and comic timing at all costs.”
Was he dissed by Jennifer Aniston?
When David Schwimmer’s one-time on-screen love interest Jennifer Aniston got hitched to The Leftovers star Justin Theroux in August 2015, there were some notable absences on the couple’s guest list — literally half the cast of Friends were missing. The male leads from the NBC sitcom reportedly hadn’t been invited to the summertime wedding. That’s right: Schwimmer as well as actors Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry were M.I.A. from Aniston’s big day.
At the time of this writing, Schwimmer has yet to publicly comment on the apparent slight, but that hasn’t stopped his fellow uninvited co-stars from speaking out. “If she wanted me there, I would have been there,” LeBlanc told People magazine in August 2015. “I think she’s happy. And that’s all I care about.”
Perry also added his two cents, admitting to People. “It was a surprise to me, as well.” He added, “I wasn’t invited. So what can you do?”
He struggled to find a post-Friends identity
Just a glance at Schwimmer’s IMDb page shows that the actor had somewhat of an identity crisis in a post-Friends world. Other than directorial, theatre, and voice work, his handful of other roles were mainly caricatures of himself on shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, Episodes, and the BBC’s Come Fly With Me.
“I feel equally comfortable on stage as I do in television or film,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2016, explaining that the “paradox” of his fame was finding himself typecast despite the financial stability that gave him options. “I don’t really have a strategy. Maybe if I did I’d be a much bigger film actor or star.”
He’s notoriously private
Having spent much of his adult life in the spotlight, Schwimmer is understandably guarded when it comes to his personal life, which has mostly been shrouded in secrecy.
Schwimmer met his wife, artist Zoe Buckman, in 2007 while directing Run Fatboy Run in London. Three years later, the actor-director’s rep announced their engagement, and they wed in a secret ceremony in June 2010. However, the wedding news wasn’t publicly revealed until four months later.
The couple welcomed their daughter, Cleo, in May 2011, but Schwimmer has only made the rare public appearance with the entire family in tow.
His parenting skills were criticized
During a 2016 appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Schwimmer unwittingly opened himself up to criticism after sharing a funny anecdote about letting his 5-year-old daughter try alcohol to dissuade her interest in it.
“It worked until I let her try beer and she loves it,” he said (via E! News.) “I’ll find her in the middle of the night just [guzzling it].”
While some parents may relate to the actor’s plight, Schwimmer was called out by parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa and others. Gilboa told the Today show that children who are allowed to try alcohol are actually more likely to drink by the time they reach high school. “It’s actually a dangerous thing to do,” she said.
He ticked off his neighbors
Schwimmer may be one of the few Hollywood actors to be free of scandal, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t ruffled a few feathers. After purchasing a gorgeously preserved 1852 townhouse in New York City’s East Village, the actor reportedly had it demolished in order to build a new one from scratch — much to the outrage of the neighborhood’s residents. According to Gawker, his disgruntled neighbors became so annoyed with the noisy eye-sore of the long-term home construction that one of them actually spray painted “Ross Is Not Cool” on a nearby construction board. Ouch.
Article originally posted by zergnet.