Friends star Matthew Perry reveals Julia Roberts’ condition for guest starring in the series. The NBC sitcom ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, starring Perry as Chandler, Courteney Cox as Monica, David Schwimmer as Ross, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel, Matt LeBlanc as Joey, and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe. The popular series enjoyed a massive effect on pop culture and has since found a second life on streaming, bringing a new generation into the fold. Due to its cultural impact and high ratings, Friends attracted many notable guest stars over the years.
Julia Roberts was an early Friends guest star, appearing in the season 2 two-parter, « The One After the Superbowl. » That particular episode arc featured other notable guest stars including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Brooke Shields, and musician Chris Isaak. Roberts played a character named Susie Moss, who reconnects with Chandler after having gone to elementary school with him. Though Susie appears to have a romantic interest in Chandler, she’s actually holding a grudge against him and seeking revenge, an event which allowed for some character growth from Chandler later on. The entertaining storyline was elevated by Roberts and Perry’s comedic performances in the episode.
The Times recently shared an excerpt from Perry’s memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, which is set for a November 1 release. The excerpt reveals the condition Roberts, who was in a real-life relationship with Perry, had for appearing in the sitcom as a guest star when the part was offered to her. Check out what Perry had to say below:
« Julia had been offered the post-Super Bowl episode in season 2, and she would only do the show if she could be in my story line. Let me say that again — she would only do the show if she could be in my story line. (Was I having a good year or what?) But first, I had to woo her. » Her reply was that if I adequately explained quantum physics to her, she’d agree to be on the show. Wow. First of all, I’m in an exchange with the woman for whom lipstick was invented, and now I have to hit the books. The following day, I sent her a paper all about wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle and entanglement, and only some of it was metaphorical. Not only did Julia agree to do the show, but she also sent me a gift: bagels — lots and lots of bagels. Sure, why not? It was Julia f—ing Roberts. »
The fact that Roberts would only guest star in Friends if she could be included in Perry’s plot line makes sense considering the pair’s excellent chemistry and hilarious repartee. Additionally, Perry’s willingness to write the scientific paper she requested shows that both sides were committed to appearing alongside one another on-screen, and the story is even more charming considering their off-screen relationship. Both actors’ efforts paid off, as Roberts’ episode was the most-watched episode in the history of Friends which, considering the sheer volume of celebrity appearances on the sitcom, it’s likely that Roberts was one of the guest actors with the most unusual requests.
Friends became known for its guest stars early on, with season 1 bringing on the likes of Jennifer Grey and George Clooney. The sitcom continued to attract mega-stars throughout its run, with everyone from Robin Williams to Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards, Winona Ryder, Selma Blair, Jeff Goldblum, Danny DeVito, and Brad Pitt showing up, in addition to many other high-caliber talents. Former Magnum P.I. star Tom Selleck was one of a few celebrity guest stars that went on to enjoy a longer story arc, with Selleck playing Monica’s boyfriend, Richard. Despite the potential for derailing the plot of an episode with a renowned guest star, Friends always managed to pull off an impressive balance, using guest stars in surprising and hilarious ways that didn’t detract from the story and often resulted in character development or revelations for the main characters.