I recently watched the episode The One with Ross's Wedding: Part Two of Friends, in which Hugh Laurie has a minor role. I noticed that he is mentioned in the credits as a Guest star.

As a French person, I only know Hugh Laurie from House MD or Stuart Little, which are both subsequent to the Friends episode. Can someone tell me why in this episode, Hugh Laurie is considered a Guest Star more than a simple background actor?

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    Obligatory – Jason Hutchinson Jan 29 '16 at 15:57
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    Because his agent put into the contract. – Marquis of Lorne Jan 29 '16 at 18:48
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    Worth noting: those Friends episodes where they went to London featured a LOT of famous British actors and personalities in small roles and cameos. Hugh Laurie was just one of many. – Nerrolken Jan 29 '16 at 23:08

Hugh Laurie has been well known in the UK since the 1980s, appearing in such popular TV shows as:

  • The Young Ones
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie
  • Blackadder (series 2 - 4)
  • Jeeves and Wooster

And parts in the films:

  • Peter's Friends
  • 101 Dalmations
  • Spice World

Before 1998 when these episodes were made.

As these episodes were set in the UK, a well known (and quite loved) British actor is likely to be credited as a guest star rather than just an extra.

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    You could add the film "Peter's Friends" (1992), which was an ensemble piece for the Cambridge set that includes Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and (by association with Thompson) Kenneth Branagh. They were all (to a greater or lesser extent) National Treasures to a UK audience even by 1998. – Steve Jessop Jan 29 '16 at 12:49
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    That moment when you realize that Dr. House and Mr. Weasley tried to kidnap a bunch of puppies... – Broots Waymb Jan 29 '16 at 19:43

The general principle is that a "guest star" is someone who has been invited to undertake a role in the film or TV show. They aren't a star because of their major role in the production, they're a guest who happens to be a star.

Where they also have a large role, they might be credited as "Guest Starring".

Since it's highly unlikely Hugh Laurie (or Fergie) would have been expected to audition, that makes them guests.

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    I think the original question was asking why is he considered a star at all when he wasn't well known at the time (in America or France) – Cearon O'Flynn Jan 29 '16 at 14:31

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