Central Perk has lost a beloved employee…
James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as Gunther on Friends, passed away at 59 following a battle with stage 4 prostate cancer. His representative confirmed the unfortunate news to TMZ, saying he died peacefully in his Los Angeles home on Sunday morning. James’ family also expressed to the outlet in a statement:
“The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh ‘Friend’), from the hit series ‘Friends,’ but Michael’s loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband. Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures. If you met him once you made a friend for life.”
As you recall, the actor revealed he was dealing with the diagnosis for the past three years, and it just reached stage 4 in an interview with Today back in June. When James was first diagnosed, he said he received a screening for a “prostate-specific antigen” during a routine checkup in September 2018 and immediately knew something was wrong:
“That came back at an extraordinarily high number … So I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there. Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said ‘Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.’”
And while hormone therapy “worked amazingly for about a year,” his condition sadly worsened over the past year:
“I missed going in for a test, which was not a good thing. So the cancer decided to mutate at the time of the pandemic, and so it’s progressed.”
Unfortunately due to his treatment, he only appeared virtually on the HBO Max reunion special in May:
“I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn’t wanna bring a downer on it, you know? … I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.’”
As we mentioned before, James became popular due to his performance as Gunther, a Central Perk worker who had a massive crush on Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel. According to an interview with Insider in 2018, James said his character was created because he was the only extra who knew how to properly work the espresso machine. As they say, the rest was history, and he went on to frequently appear on the popular series throughout its 10-year run. Beyond Friends, he appeared in Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Scrubs, Episodes, and Modern Music.
R.I.P. James Michael Tyler.
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