What Janice from Friends looks like today

As Janice on Friends, Maggie Wheeler immediately won audiences over with her first appearance in 1994. With her signature nasally tone, infamous laugh, and "Oh. My. GAWD." catchphrase, the actress delivered a standout performance opposite actor Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing's on-and-off girlfriend. While she was never officially considered a part of the Central Perk gang — a.k.a. characters played by Perry's fellow core castmates Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, and David Schwimmer — Wheeler's Janice has remained a fan-favorite within the Friends-sphere, with her popularity rivaling that of fellow recurring character Gunther, the lovelorn barista.

But whatever happened to the actress who portrayed Janice? With a multi-faceted career spanning over three decades, Wheeler has been hiding in plain sight while continuing to work both on and off screen in showbiz, fostering a fulfilling — albeit private — personal life, and accumulating a reported net worth of $2 million. So, break out your brightest colored pantsuit and best leopard-print handbag. Here's what Maggie Wheeler's been up to lately.

Creating Janice

While Janice's nasally voice has been ingrained in all of our heads for years and years, it might surprise readers to know that Maggie Wheeler actually sounds nothing like the character in real life. However, much of what made her on-screen alter ego so memorable — including Janice's infamous inflection on "Oh. My. GAWD." — came from the actress' very own interpretation of the writing.

"It was just this progression — how Janice evolved, how the writers created the character for me," she told ITV's This Morning in 2016. That same year, Wheeler explained to Digital Spy, "She is an amalgamation of many women that I have encountered growing up in New York City," adding, "For me, the rhythm of the character was on the page from the get-go. But then as we went on and it became this great kind of creative collaboration." She continued, "I have to say a big thank you to everybody who ever put, 'Oh my God' down on a page." Indeed.

The inspiration behind that laugh

With her very own catchphrase under her belt, there was one more component Wheeler created to make Janice complete: that infamous laugh. 

"I think Janice was some kind of conglomeration that I invented on the day," she told BBC Radio 5 in 2019, revealing that the cackle we love to hate was inspired by multiple pop culture references, including Flipper, Woody Woodpecker, and Arnold Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter. However, it actually grew out of necessity during the rehearsal process. "That laugh really was an organic sort of life-saver because Matthew Perry is so funny, and I had to work with him and I knew he was going to crack me up, so I figured if Janice couldn't laugh on set and couldn't laugh in the moment, I was going to be in big trouble," Wheeler explained. "And that is why that laugh exists."

And just like that, one of the most iconic characters in Friends history was born. Wheeler told ITV's This Morning that she still gets recognized for her Friends character and will even do her voice if people ask.

Clearing the air on a certain Friends rumor

Contrary to popular belief, Maggie Wheeler apparently did not originally audition for the role of Monica (played by Courteney Cox) on Friends. "Honestly, I don't know where that came from," she told Digital Spy in 2014. "I only auditioned for Janice. Unless there is some moment that is absolutely wiped from my memory, I did not audition for this show until Janice came across the desk!" 

Of course, Wheeler was the perfect fit for Janice. While the role was meant to be a one-off guest-starring gig, she later told the publication that it turned into a "recurring role that nobody could have expected." As evidenced by her IMDb page, Janice went on to appear in every season of the series. "It was always a surprise that she continued to have a life on the show," Wheeler, who boasted a 19-episode run under her belt, told ITV's This Morning. "And I was always so thrilled every time the writers decided to bring me back." She added, "Out of that came 10 years of this extraordinary, joyful experience."

Oh. My. GAWD. We almost had a Janice spinoff?!

Yes, the world was nearly gifted with a Janice spinoff series. According to Wheeler's interview with Digital Spy in 2016, one of her writer friends once approached her with an idea to create a reality TV comedy show, in which she would have played Janice as a therapist. "I'm not sure why it never happened," the actress said. "Those things are not in my hands but I guess it was not meant to be." However, Wheeler's still game: "If the right circumstance were offered and the people behind Janice asked me to do something, I'm sure I would be there in a heartbeat. It's not too late for a spinoff!"

In the meantime, the world must be content with envisioning where Janice is now … and Wheeler herself has some theories. "She's running an online business making bags and clothing, doing big business with the Mob Wives and using a lot of animal prints," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2015. "It's going well." Honestly, we'd tune in to that spinoff series every week.

She's been working steadily in showbiz

Maggie Wheeler began working as a professional actress more than a decade before landing her life-changing job on Friends. With over 70 on-screen credits to her name, she's continued to work steadily in Hollywood. Throughout the '90s and early 2000s, her more notable gigs included other recurring TV roles, such as Linda on Everybody Loves Raymond and Anita on Ellen, as well as her portrayal of camp counselor Marva Kulp, Jr. alongside Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap. Her later work includes guest spots on shows like Will & Grace, Californication, and Maron, plus a starring role in the comedic short Holiday Hostage.

In 2016, Wheeler opened up about the longevity of her career with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "Being a professional actress is akin to being a professional gambler," she said, explaining, "I love my acting work, but I don't have any control over how often I work. I've been on a roller coaster as an actress throughout my whole career."

She's a voice-over actress extraordinaire

One of Wheeler's earliest and steadiest professional acting gigs included voicing the heroic Steelheart and the musical villain Melodia in the animated television series SilverHawks, which was created by the legendary company Rankin/Bass Productions in the 1980s. Despite becoming better known for her on-camera roles, the actress remained a voice-over actress extraordinaire in TV projects like The Comic Strip, Justice League, Archer, and The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants. Wheeler also lent her talents to a number of video games like Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale — Heart of Winter and Kinect Disneyland Adventures, and she even reprised her role of Janice in the 2005 game, Friends: The One with All the Trivia.

Wheeler opened up about her roots in voice acting in 2017, telling Boomer Magazine, "Voice-over work is my first love." She also couldn't help but gush over getting her start with the iconic team behind Rankin/Bass Productions. "It was so exciting to work for them," she shared. "They were such talented artists."

She's a choir director

Wheeler may be best known for effecting a grating voice on Friends, but she's actually a lifelong musician who has a killer set of pipes. "I used to say, 'I act for my supper and I sing for my soul,'" she told Best Self Magazine. "For many years I was vigilant about not turning my singing work into work. That changed nine years ago." 

After attending Community Choir Leadership Training in Victoria, British Columbia, Wheeler co-founded the Golden Bridge Community Choir (via Boomer Magazine). With a focus on South African, Australian, and Asian music, the group is part of the Ubuntu Choirs Network. "The spirit of Ubuntu is about sharing a bond," Wheeler, who released an a cappella album called Sweet Time, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. She added, "On a personal level, the Golden Bridge Community Choir aims to connect people by joining their voices in song."

As for whether she'll ever connect this musical gig with her Friends roots, Wheeler jokingly told Digital Spy, "We've never done a number as Janice," noting, "Maybe that would be something to think about for the future!" Raise your hand if you'd pay to see that!

Her happy married life

Maggie Wheeler tied the knot with sculptor Daniel Borden Wheeler at Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos, Calif. in October 1990, according to The New York Times. While the longtime pairing, who share two now-adult daughters, are known to keep their relationship out of the limelight, Wheeler shared a rare glimpse into their marriage in 2016. "As a couple, we're both involved and invested in creating spaces for people to express themselves," she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "He with his art and me with my music."

Proving her point, Daniel Wheeler is known to use his sculptures to express the love he holds for his family with a special Valentine's Day tradition. "I've made sculpture Valentines for my wife since we met, and for my two daughters all their lives, so our house is kind of filled with these objects," he once told Best Self Magazine. "They're lighthearted objects, but I don't take the process of making them lightly." 

Talk about a whole new level of #FamilyGoals.

They'll (occasionally) be there for you

While a Friends reunion unfortunately seems more "unlikely" by the minute (via the Daily Mail), the show's longtime fans would hope that the cast would have at least held an off-screen reunion in recent years. But rumor has it that even that's been difficult to organize. "We've gotten about 80 percent there, but there's always one person who flakes at the end," Courteney Cox told Yahoo! Style in 2015. She added, "You know, I'm not going to name names, but it may not be David Schwimmer."

For her part, Maggie Wheeler has kept in touch with her Friends co-stars over the years … but they're not necessarily besties. "From time to time we run into each other, but I haven't seen anyone recently," she told Digital Spy. "I was having lunch with a friend in a restaurant and Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc were having lunch at the next table, and we're always so happy to see each other when we do."

She loves being known as Janice from Friends

Despite her decades-long career in the entertainment industry, there's no doubt that Maggie Wheeler has remained most closely tied with her role of Janice on Friends. While some performers may become a little jaded for being best-known for just one role, this actress couldn't be more grateful to have been a part of the sitcom's legacy. 

"Janice has been very good to me," she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The TV star, who said she "had no sense" of the phenomenon the series would become or what it'd mean for her acting career, added, "I am so glad people connected with her." While discussing the possibility of a Friends movie around the show's 20th anniversary, Wheeler told Digital Spy in 2014, "Should it happen, I would be thrilled to participate. I love Janice — she's dear to my heart. It would be fun to resurrect her!" 

You heard her, NBC. In the meantime, at least we'll always have this clip of Wheeler temporarily reprising her famous role during a 2015 WB Studio Tour.