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Friends star James Michael Tyler says he missed reunion so cancer diagnosis wouldn’t ‘bring a downer’ on it

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James Michael Taylor pictured in 2014 at a ‘Friends’ anniversary event (Getty Images)
James Michael Taylor pictured in 2014 at a ‘Friends’ anniversary event (Getty Images)

Actor James Michael Tyler, best known for playing the role of Gunther on Friends, has explained his decision not to appear on the recent reunion special in person.

The actor revealed to Today that he was diagnosed with cancer back in 2018, and didn’t want his illness to “bring a downer” on the special.

Friends: The Reunion aired earlier this month on Sky in the UK, and HBO Max in the US.

All of the core cast of the hit sitcom returned for the non-scripted programme, alongside several of the show’s guest stars, creators, and celebrity fans.

Tyler did make a brief appearance on the special via Zoom, but did not feature alongside the cast in real life.

Speaking on Today, he said: “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.

“It was bittersweet, honestly. 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.’”

Tyler is currently undergoing “aggressive” treatment for his illness, which began as prostate cancer but has since spread to his bones.

The actor appeared in 56 episodes of Friends, becoming a beloved minor character for many fans of the sitcom.

Friends: The Reunion can be watched on Sky Go and Now in the UK.

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