Ugly Naked Guy was one of the most famous characters to appear on Friends, even though he only appeared in two episodes and never showed his face.
In fact, the actor who played UNG was never credited at all. Todd Van Lulling, a staff writer at the Huffington Post, became obsessed with finding out who was cast in that role.
The process took over a year. Anyone else would have given up, considering how bleak the search became. These are the methods Van Luling went through to find out who Ugly Naked Guy was:
- Spoke with "Friends" casting director Leslie Litt. Nothing.
- Spoke with the casting agency Central Casting. Nothing.
- Spoke with one of the series creators, David Crane. When asked if he knew who UNG was, his response was, “Oh no, I don’t. I absolutely don’t.”
- Almost asked David Schwimmer (the only actor to appear with UNG) if he remembered who the actor was, but chickened out twice.
- Checked important crowdsourcing sites like Yahoo, Reddit, Youtube, and Angelfire. (Remember Angelfire? It was probably actually hot when those episodes aired.) Nothing.
- Reached out to every crew member on IMDB even remotely linked to those episodes. Almost all of them went nowhere, except for one line producer, Todd Stevens, who wrote him back this hopeful message:
Please let me know when you want to discuss and a good number to [reach] you—I remember!
Once the two Todds connected in a more private venue, the Friends producer opened the gates:
“Here’s what I remember,” Stevens, who was the line producer for the show at the time, told me. “It was an extra and we wanted it to fly under the radar because we didn’t want somebody, like, being Ugly Naked Guy.”
Then he went on to explain that he didn't remember the name or even the face of the guy, save a few details. A year had gone by at this point and Van Luling still had nothing, yet he pressed on. He...
- Attempted to hire a sketch artist to draw UNG based on Todd Stevens' terrible description. Nothing.
- Re-contacted Lesely Litt. Still nothing.
- Re-contacted Central Casting.... BINGO. Central Casting had good news for him, and repolied to his second inquiry with this email more than a year after his initial inquiry:
In the email, Jennifer Bender at Central Casting said she would ask UNG if he would be ok with connecting. He was.
“You want to let the world know who the real Ugly Naked Guy is, huh?” the actor asked Von Luling over the phone.
He did. This is the true face of Ugly Naked Guy:
His name is Jon Haugen, and he loved playing UNG. He told Van Luling:
I wasn’t really expecting them to call me back for me to do it again. It was the best time in my life. I was the man.
Yes, you were, Haugen. The big ugly naked man.