Ah, Friends. What an incredible television programme. Even 14 years on from its final air date, it’s still gone on to become the most streamed TV series of all time.
While we all look at the show with fond memories attached to the 6 main characters, sometimes we forget just the incredibly important roles the ‘side characters’ played in their lives. After all, can you imagine how Chandler’s character arc would be without Janice?!
What about if Mike had never come along into Phoebe’s life – would she just be waiting for David to return from Minsk, or would she be a lonely ‘smelly’ cat lady, who then went on to get married in a pact with Joey.
Well one character who started out as an extra, and made his way into a vital role is arguably Gunther. The lovely little coffee shop owner, who was there through all of the highs and lows of the gang’s Central Perk experiences. Most famed for being madly in love with Rachel, but also for having a few hilarious moments – Gunther (played by James Michael Tyler) is definitely an underrated yet integral role in the show.
He recently sat down with Digital Spy, and had a chat about what it was really like playing everyone’s most loved coffee shop guy, and what his life has been like since. During the interview, he actually was asked the one question that has been plaguing Friends fans for YEARS – just what is Gunther’s last name, and does he even have one?!
When asked if James knew whether or not Gunther had a last name, he told the publication: “I don’t! That was never established. Chandler thinks Gunther’s last name is ‘Central-Perk’, but it was never established. Maybe it was Smith. That would be interesting – Gunther Smith. Some unexpected last name.” Smith, ay? I can kinda see it.
Even though it’s been 20 years since the show’s first debut, James admits that he still gets stopped by his home in Los Angeles and recognised as Gunther by fans of the show. He also was only hired for the role because he was the only one who could use a coffee machine.
He claimed:”You know, I honestly always thought my Masters in fine arts would get me further in the acting world than knowing how to work an espresso machine! That was a happy accident and I’m very, very grateful to have had that skill.”
Imagine just accidentally stumbling into a job that would essentially integrate you into a vital part of history for the rest of your life. Friends has already exhibited that it’s standing the test of time as a show – with fans growing more and more as generations grow and are introduced to it.
After all, it was announced earlier today that the show has officially been named the most streamed TV show of all time, and it’s easy to see why. Following a story of 20-something friends trying to navigate their way through life, relationships, jobs is something everyone can relate to as they grow – and the humour carries it enough that even if you don’t relate – you can find something in there to make you smile about.