Kudrow, clutching a takeout coffee cup, rushes into the offices of her production company, Is or Isn’t Entertainment, on the ground floor of a house on a quiet, treelined street in Los Angeles. She is five minutes late—after dropping off her son, Julian, 13, at school—and apologizes as she leads the way into a meeting room. Dressed in jeans and a long black sweater, she settles her five-foot-eight-inch frame onto a couch, reaches over to pluck a croissant from a platter and signals that she’s ready to talk.
And talk she does, for the next two hours, about career, fame and family. “I talk a lot,” she says. “I go on and on.” She is friendly, funny and forthright, willing to answer most questions but not all. Asked if it’s true that she was a virgin when she married—at age 31—she debunks that oft-told Hollywood tale with the real story: “I think in People magazine I said that I had once hoped I would be a virgin when I got married. And then Jay Leno made a joke in his monologue about me being a virgin, and the story got started.”
SO, um, at what age did she lose her virginity? Kudrow laughs and demurs: “If I haven’t told my son yet, then I shouldn’t tell everybody else.”
She’s content with where her career is now, making comedy shows that are more class than mass. She says she wouldn’t want to star in one major movie after another (though she’s happy for former Friends castmate Jennifer Aniston, who does) because “to maintain a career at that level, there have to be choices.” Though she’s appeared in her share of big features (including Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Analyze This and, most recently, Easy A), she has lately chosen to pull back from films. “They’re out of town, and it’s too hard on my son,” she says. “That’s not the way I want to parent. I don’t want him traveling with me. It’s different for every child, but for us, we need consistency.”
Making movies would also take her away from her husband, Michel Stern, a French-born advertising executive turned financier, and her extended family. “She’s massively connected to family,” says Sex and the City producer-director Michael Patrick King, who created The Comeback with Kudrow. How connected? Every Sunday night, Kudrow, her husband and her son get together for dinner with her parents, two older siblings, their spouses and their children. On weeknights she is usually home in time for dinner with Stern and Julian. Kudrow herself cooked those weekday meals until her schedule grew too packed and the family’s housekeeper-nanny took over. “Now she’s so good that no one wants me to cook,” Kudrow protests. “I keep reminding them, ‘Where do you think that recipe came from?’ ”
Friends and colleagues describe her as a confirmed homebody. “She’s not someone who walks into a party and emerges with 15 friends,” says her -production-company partner, Dan Bucatinsky. “Lisa would rather be home playing Scrabble or watching movies.”
Kudrow says she and her husband “make sure that we have our life together and that it’s separate from professional stuff.” She’s not one for flashy Hollywood parties: “I’d rather see the movie than go to the premiere. But it’s part of the business, to be out there and be seen.” Her husband, she adds, tags along only if it promises to be fun or if he’ll see people he knows.