Friends introduced us to Chandler Bing’s transgender father, Charles Bing, also known as Helena Handbasket. She actually makes a living in Las Vegas as a drag queen. Chandler regularly makes his transgender mother the butt of his jokes throughout the series.
The character was played by Kathleen Turner. The 65-year-old actress, who does not identify as transgender, admitted that she first accepted the acting role because she “hadn’t done it.” The actress, however, stated in 2019 during an episode of Andy Cohen’s that she would no longer play that part of her today.
It was a very innovative role – explains the actress. Obviously, today I wouldn’t do it again. Because there are real people who can do it.
At the time, we were working on a show based on Tallulah Bankhead. And one of the creators of Friends, David Crane, came to see the show in San Francisco, joined me backstage, and said, “You have to play Chandler’s father.” So I thought, “Okay, let me think… a woman, as a man, as a woman. I have not done it yet!” So I said yes.