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James Michael Tyler: Friends lasted because of family atmosphere on set

James Michael Tyler believes 'Friends' - on which he played Central Perk coffee house manager Gunther - lasted for 10 years because the cast, crew and writers all got on like a "big family".

James Michael Tyler: Friends lasted because of family atmosphere on set


James Michael Tyler says the secret to 'Friends' longevity was the fact the cast, crew and writers all got on like a "big family".

The 57-year-old actor played Central Perk coffee house manager Gunther in the American sitcom and he insists it was able to last for 10 seasons and 10 years because of the fantastic chemistry between the six main stars - Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry - and the rest of the cast and creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman.

Speaking exclusively to BANG Showbiz, he said: "It always stayed cohesive - it could not have gone on for 10 years if there was friction.

"We were very fortunate on the show to have a cast who had immediate chemistry from the very first episode. They didn't know each other before the show started, but they seemed like they had known each other for years. We had an amazingly talented group of writers and creators who were taking from their own experiences and sensationalising them a bit and making them far more comedic. Our crew were top of their game. We were a big family. I can't say anything salacious because there was nothing salacious that happened."

'Friends' eventually ended in 2004 after 236 episodes and James is still making money from his part thanks to the syndication revenue made from the repeats.

Although it seems strange now, James admits he was worried that 'Friends' wouldn't be picked up by NBC for a second series and he would lose his wage as a non-speaking extra as he didn't get a line as Gunther until episode 33.

He said: "I was a background performer for the first season. I didn't speak until the 33rd episode which was midway through the second season. So in that summer between I was at home working in a real coffee shop, I was an actual barista in a coffee shop called The Bourgeois Pig in Hollywood. I was wondering if I was going to be able to come back and have that extra $44-a-week that I was dependent upon to supplement my income and rent, and my free meal from Craft service, I didn't know until about a week before I thought the show was supposed to come back. So I didn't know if I was coming back or not. I called the second assistant director and said, 'Hey Joel, did the show 'Friends' get picked up?' And he was like, 'Are you kidding me? It was number one all summer in reruns and now we're going to be on a bigger sound stage and we're going to have much better Craft service. You're not going to have to eat hot dogs, now we have sushi."

This year the Christmas and Thanksgiving episodes of 'Friends' are being celebrated in the UK when 'FriendsFestive' comes to The Truman Brewery in London.

Fans can pay a visit to the Holiday Armadillo's Grotto, ring Phoebe's bell outside the mall and recreate the show's titles in the snow among other seasonal activities.

Go to to buy tickets.

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