When A Shot Of A Thief Resembling David Schwimmer Emerged, The Actor Came Clean About His Actions

In October 2018, British police posted a picture online of an alleged thief. They wanted to hear from anyone who might recognize the man. Well, as it turned out, the entire internet seemed to know exactly who he was… Surely, he was Ross from Friends, a.k.a. actor David Schwimmer! The resemblance was uncanny, and eventually Schwimmer found out that he had a dodgy doppelganger. So, he decided to post a video about it.

On October 23, 2018, the police in Blackpool, England, used their Facebook account to seek information on an alleged robber. “Do you recognize this man? We want to speak to him in relation to a theft at a Blackpool restaurant on the September 20th,” read the post. It included an email address and a log number and concluded with, “Thank you for your help.”

The internet offered a very particular kind of “help,” however. It just so happened that the wanted man has an intriguingly strong resemblance to a popular sitcom character. He had the same facial features and dark hair as one Ross Geller from Friends, as portrayed by actor David Schwimmer from 1994 to 2004.

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It didn’t take long for the comments section of the post to erupt into Friends references. “The One Where Ross Became a Thief,” one person wrote, referring to the naming convention of the show’s episodes. Others parodied the famous Friends theme tune, “I’ll Be There For You,” by The Rembrandts. “I guess no one told him life was gonna be this way,” quipped another jokester.

Some folks pointed out that Ross the character did have a slightly shady past when it came to thievery. “There’s a fine line between stealing and taking what the hotel owes you. A hair dryer, no, no, no. Shampoos and conditioners, oh yes, yes, yes,” one Friends fan wrote, referring to the episode “The One With Rachel’s Dream,” where Ross and Chandler steal a suitcase full of “free” supplies from a hotel.

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“The One With Rachel’s Phone Number” episode was also a popular reference. In it, Ross finds himself trapped in an awkward social situation with Phoebe’s boyfriend, Mike. The pair can’t think of anything to talk about except beer. “Is he stealing beer or lager? Actually, what’s the difference between beer and lager? We could look it up…” somebody wrote.

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Then there was the problem of Russ, Ross’ in-show doppelganger, who briefly dates Rachel. Russ was played by Schwimmer as well – though he was hiding behind some prosthetics and a fake name in the credits. “It’s not Ross… It’s Russ, he’s trying to frame Ross to win back Rachel,” read another comment, which received 36,000 likes.

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The same day that the Blackpool police posted the original message, they had to issue another social media statement in the comments of the post. Luckily, they had a sense of humor about it. “Thank you to everyone for your speedy responses. We have investigated this matter thoroughly and have confirmed that David Schwimmer was in America on this date. We’re so sorry it has to be this way,” the message read.

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David Schwimmer had indeed been in America on that date, because he lives there! He has a house in New York, to be exact, the same city where Friends was set. And the actor is certainly too busy with filming commitments to hang around stealing things in Blackpool. Currently he’s shooting The Laundromat, alongside Meryl Streep.

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However, the Ross-lookalike story went so viral – hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, plus stories in the mainstream media – that it was hard to believe Schwimmer himself would never see it. And the day after the post went viral, it transpired that the actor did indeed know what was going on. He made his own post in response, one that had the internet cracking up all over again.

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Schwimmer had gone so far as to film a video where he impersonated the alleged thief. In the clip, made to look like security camera footage, he ran furtively from one side of a store to another while carrying a crate of beer. “Officers, I swear it wasn’t me,” he wrote. “As you can see, I was in New York.”

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“To the hardworking Blackpool Police, good luck with the investigation. #itwasntme,” he finished. That post, too, went viral almost immediately. It racked up 146,000 retweets, 480,000 likes, and another cascade of Friends jokes. “Are you sure it wasn’t you? I seem to remember Ross trying to steal an office chair because Rachel asked him to,” wrote one fan.

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People were impressed that Schwimmer had continued the joke with so much style. “I think it’s safe to say @DavidSchwimmer has broken the internet. Best come-back ever,” came one reply. “Love the fact that @DavidSchwimmer took time out of his day to prove his innocence and put all #friends fans’ minds to rest,” came another.

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However, the investigation into the real crime, a minor one though it was, continued in Blackpool. “Police think they know who Blackpool thief ‘Ross’ is – after he was catapulted to sudden worldwide fame by Friends star David Schwimmer,” announced the Blackpool Gazette on October 25.

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“The suspected thief is accused of going into eatery Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines in Cookson Street and stealing a coat, wallet and phone, before going to a nearby shop and using his illicit wares to buy the beer he was pictured with,” claimed the Gazette. Police were still searching for their suspect, the newspaper said.

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Since Blackpool is a holiday destination in Britain, they do sometimes have problems with thievery and pickpockets. But people still come from all over the country to see the famous Blackpool Tower and the Illuminations light display. On Schwimmer’s Twitter thread, someone even suggested that the actor should switch on the Illuminations in 2019.

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Although that would be fantastic for the town, Schwimmer might be too busy to ever come to Blackpool. In addition to upcoming projects like The Laundromat, the actor is heavily involved in activism now. In early 2018 he started work on an anti-sexual harassment campaign, #ThatsHarassment, citing his young daughter as the main reason he got involved.

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However, if the viral story of The One Where Ross Became a Thief proved anything, it was that Friends is still hugely popular, even now. It’s been over a decade since it finished, but its fandom is clearly still massive. People can still recall Ross quotes that were said all the way back in the ’90s… Such is the power of Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe and Monica.

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Will the cast ever reunite for new episodes? Unfortunately, the future’s not looking too bright. Although some cast members are up for it – Jennifer Aniston said in August 2018 that she would love a reboot – others reportedly aren’t. And the producers of the show are apparently firmly in the “no” camp as well.

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But still, who knows what may happen in the future? Minds can change, after all, and there’s clearly a big market lying in wait. Maybe in a few years’ time, or even a decade or two, a new generation might sit down to a Friends episode about an older Ross being misidentified as a beer-carrying restaurant robber…

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