That hair on a baby?
When you think of Friends, you immediately think of the inner circle of the six close friends, including siblings and on again, off again lovers, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Joey, Chandler, and Ross.
For ten seasons, we followed the friends through their daily exploits, relationships, jobs, and the disastrously hilarious situations they would often end up in. It’s amazing how much plot the showrunners were able to make from the lives of six people.
Of course there were peripheral characters, like Phoebe’s twin sister, Ursula, Monica and Ross’s parents, and various lovers and significant others like Janice.
But of all the recurring characters on the show, none is as famous as Gunther, the manager of the friends’ favorite hangout spot, Central Perk. While most of the main cast of Friends have still gone on to have big careers, Gunther is one of those people we think about from time to time and always wonder what happened to him.
Do you ever find yourself wondering where Gunther is now? Look no further!
Introduced in the second episode, Gunther is a staple on Friends, as well as the most common recurring character, appearing on a whopping 185 of all the 236 episodes. However, he doesn’t have lines for the first 32 of these.
Always on the outskirts, one of the show’s longest-running gags is that Gunther is never able to get into the inner circle of the friends, lingering always instead at the periphery.
The best examples? How about when Ross says Gunther is going to be his best man, and Gunther retorts with “What’s my last name?” much to Ross’s chagrin. Or my personal favorite, when Ross asks Gunther for six glasses to celebrate, leading Gunther to think he’s being invited to partake. When Ross realizes his mistake, he says, “Oh, I thought Joey was here— five is good.” Classic Gunther, always brushed aside.
James Michael Tyler
The man behind the coffee counter is actually actor James Michael Tyler, a Mississippi native who had been acting since his youth.
As it turns out, Tyler was very qualified for his role. He was a barista in Hollywood before landing his breakthrough on Friends. In fact, his real job is the reason why assistant director Joel Wang called him up for the role in the first place, which was meant to be totally silent.
Tyler explains, “He said, ‘Hey, do you want to come on and be in the background in a coffee shop? I would love you to just stand by the espresso machine and pretend like you’re actually really working it, just so it would look authentic. The show will probably go about six episodes at least.’ No one really expected until after that first season that it was going to continue. And 10 years! Who would have thought?”
Unfortunately, he never actually made coffee on set.
Blonds Have More Fun
Gunther’s most recognizable attribute is his peroxide blond hair, which is a common butt of many of the friends’ jokes throughout the show’s run.
As it turns out, this was a major coincidence. “I had a friend who wanted to be a hairdresser and wanted to practice bleaching someone’s hair, so I offered what hair I had left at the time. It came out white and that was the night before I was called in for the first day of shooting the first season.”
But the look stuck, and Tyler had to adapt. “I wanted to go back many times. I bleached my hair every week for 10 years. I did it myself after a while. It was just easier instead of coming in early to do it. I would just do it the night before.”
Soon, the role took off. And the rest is history. So where’s Gunther now?! Keep reading!