Lisa Kudrow arrives for a morning interview clad in a fitted black sweater, accented with a crisp white shirt underneath. When asked to describe her chic, unforced style, Kudrow — well-versed on everything from pharmaceuticals overprescribed to children to the lunacy of White House press briefings — is momentarily flummoxed.
“I don’t feel like I have a style, really. The way I dress depends on my mood. I’m usually never in the mood to look sexy, which is too bad. I’ve always been like that. That’s never been my female mode. When I see women looking tastefully sexy, I admire them,” she tells Yahoo Style, spotlighting her pal and Friends co-star, Jennifer Aniston, who wore Versace to the Oscars. “She looked amazing. She looked fantastic.”
Kudrow, 53, proudly shops at Nordstrom and has for years. And she was surprised when told about the recent Oscars kerfuffle involving Chanel and Meryl Streep (designer Karl Lagerfeld claimed that Streep had been paid to wear an Elie Saab dress to the Academy Awards, which Streep flatly denied). “Wait. Actors get paid now to wear clothes for awards shows? Shoot, I missed that. Wow,” she says.
Kudrow’s approach to beauty is equally, well, normal. She has no plans to freeze her face, like so many of her peers with immobile visages, or to go under the knife.
“I slather on moisturizer,” she says. “I don’t know. It’s tough. I’m afraid of injections and stuff. I’m just going to play older roles. I think older women have a lot to say. It’s good to get older. That’s the other thing. What’s the alternative? I’m sorry I’m still alive?”
Clearly, the actress isn’t hurting for projects. She’s one of the stars of the nuptial comedy Table 19 about a band of misfits seated at the worst spot at a wedding. Kudrow can relate. “I only realized by doing this movie that I have been placed at the bad table a lot of times. All I cared about was not being near the band. I thought I was at the best table. But I’m as far away from the bride and groom as possible,” she says.
Now that her son, Julian, is almost out of the house, Kudrow wants to be back in front of the camera. After Friends wrapped in May 2004 with a finale watched by 52 million viewers, Kudrow focused on raising Julian (she’s married to French ad executive Michel Stern).
“I want to act,” she says. “I can only not act for so long until I feel like I need to again. But I don’t want to leave town. My son is probably going to college next year, and then it will be OK. I would like to do more. I tried working, but movies are in L.A., and it wasn’t working for us. Some families can handle it really well. I don’t know if it was just me. I can’t multitask.”
Kudrow has a biology degree from Vassar and got her start in comedy as part of the sketch group The Groundlings, which ultimately led to her enduringly beloved role as “Smelly Cat” crooner Phoebe Buffay on the NBC hit Friends. She followed that up with the HBO series The Comeback, featuring Kudrow as a failed actress clinging to youth and desperate to inject something — anything — into a flaccid career. The show premiered in 2005 and made its own comeback in 2014, much to the delight of its many vocal fans.
“I was so grateful for the goodwill. That was scary to do that again. That was the biggest relief. And it’s nice to know that … you were right. We thought this was the way to do it, and OK, it worked,” she says.
Plus, Kudrow is one of the executive producers of the Emmy-nominated TLC genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? — which returns on Friday. The first guest this season: Monica Geller.
Of course, it begs the question of how exactly Kudrow went about booking Courteney Cox, who played the uptight Monica opposite unrestrained Phoebe. “OK, I worked with Courteney. We were on a show together. With Jennifer. You might have heard of it,” jokes Kudrow.
After all, we’re all “Friends” here, anyway.