In a new interview with the New Yorker, actress Brooke Shields shares that former husband Andre Agassi had an explosive reaction to her 1996 comedic turn on Friends, in which she portrayed Erika, a stalker obsessed with Joey Tribbiani’s character on Days of Our Lives, Dr. Drake Ramoray. While the guest-starring role — which was part of the show’s star-studded “The One After the Superbowl” episode — was meant to be fun, the tennis champ’s response turned out to be anything but.
Shields explained that Agassi, then her boyfriend, was so enraged by the slapstick nature of the role, that he went home and “smashed all his trophies.”
“Who wins for that?” Shields told the publication. “That’s just — don’t!”
According to Shields, Agassi — to whom she was married from 1997 to 1999 — was in the studio watching her act opposite Friends star Matt LeBlanc. Though producers initially scrapped elements of the scene — in which her character licks Joey’s fingers and throws her head back as she cackles — after rehearsal because they worried it was “too crazy,” they ultimately changed their mind.
“They scream, ‘Shields! Put it back in!'” she shared. “All of a sudden, the energy changed, and all these men in suits started coming into the studio. The next day, I was asked if I wanted to do my own television show.”
The former child star, who would go on to star in NBC’s Suddenly Susan after her Friends gig, recounted filming the scene with LeBlanc.
“In the scene, I’m supposed to lick Joey’s fingers, because they’re the hands of a genius, and I want to devour them, and I’m a nut.” she said. “He was cute — he was, like, ‘I’ve washed my hands and they’re all clean.’ I was, like, ‘I had a mint!'”
Agassi was less charmed.
“Andre was in the audience supporting me, and he stormed out,” said Shields, who opens up about her life, including a traumatic sexual assault, in the new two-part documentary, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields. “He said, ‘Everybody’s making fun of me. You made a fool of me by that behavior.’ I’m, like, ‘It’s comedy! What is the matter with you?'”
Shields later learned that Agassi was using crystal meth around that time — something the athlete has spoken openly about — “so that irrational behavior I’m sure had something to do with that.” He went on to go home and smash up all his trophies.
Looking back, the actress — now married to TV writer and producer Chris Henchy — sees Agassi’s reaction as “petulant behavior.” It also pulled the focus away from her acting and toward him.
Shields has spoken previously about the downfall of her relationship with Agassi. In 2013, she addressed their split during an appearance on Today.
“I am divorced,” Shields said. “And mine was very quick and relatively easy, but it’s a very interesting thing because he — quote, unquote — did say to me, ‘Be happy that we don’t have children or I would not have made this easy for you.'”
Agassi, now married to former tennis star Steffi Graf, had previously shared that during that challenging period of his life, he wasn’t capable of maintaining a solid relationship.
“I think at that time in my life, I couldn’t be married to anyone,” Agassi said back in 2009 while promoting his memoir, Open, on Today. “I think timing is really important. You need in a marriage, two people who understand themselves, and I certainly didn’t understand myself.”