The Tragic Passing of ‘Friends’ Actor, James Michael Tyler


Lara Sinkus, Staff Writer

     Sadly, James Michael Tyler, who plays Gunther in Friends, has passed away. He passed away after fighting a battle with prostate cancer since 2018. He played a funny, lovable character who worked in the coffee house and had a crush on Jennifer Ansiton’s character, Rachel. Gunther starred in almost one hundred fifty episodes, and continues to be a widely popular character among the fans. He passed away on October 24, 2021. In the event of his passing, the cast members paid tribute to him through their words on social media. 

    Jennifer Aniston stated that the show “would not have been the same” without him as Gunther. “Thank [him] for the laughter [he] brought to the show and to all of [their] lives. [He] will be so missed,” Aniston said. On Instagram, she posted a picture of him on set, and the scene in the show where Gunther said he was in love with Rachel, before she turned him down on the last episode. 

     Courtney Cox, who plays Monica, wrote, “The size of gratitude [he] brought into the room and showed every day on set is the size of the gratitude [she] hold[s] for having known [him]. Rest in peace James.” 

     Lisa Kudrow, who plays the role of Phoebe, stated, “James Michael Tyler, [they] will all miss [him].” Adding in a reference to the show’s opening theme, she quoted, “Thank [you for being there for us all.” 

      Matthew Leblanc posted a photo of Joey and Gunther speaking in Central Perk, saying, “[They] had lots of laughs buddy. [He] will be missed. RIP [his] friend.” 

     David Schwimmer, Ross, sent him a thank you “for playing such a wonderful, unforgettable role.” As well as for, “being such a big hearted gentleman and all around mensch off screen. [He] will be missed buddy.” 

     The co-creator of the show, David Crane, told the BBC that he had originally started as an extra on the show, but then was given the role because he was able to work the coffee machine. Crane stated, “As time went on, [they] think [they] realized he’s funny- a really good actor. [They] just kept giving him more and more, and when [they] realized there was a story line about his secret love for Rachel, it was just the gift that kept on giving.” His comedy was, “impeccable, he was so good that [they] found [themselves] going to him for the punchline for a whole scene or for a whole episode. With just the littlest opportunity he created this indelible character.”

     He had attended the Friends reunion over Zoom back in May. Those were the most memorable years of his life and he “could not have imagined a better experience. All these guys were fantastic and just a joy to work with. It felt very, very special.” He was a very important part of the Friends family. After he was diagnosed, he continued to act, and raise awareness for Prostate Cancer. In conclusion, James Michael Tyler was a great actor, with an important role in Friends, who has sadly passed away after fighting a battle of Prostate Cancer. 

James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on Friends dies of prostate cancer aged 59 - ABC News