‘Friends’: Julia Roberts Told Matthew Perry She’d Only Appear on the Show Under 1 Ridiculous Condition
Friends has a long list of famous guest stars, from Brad Pitt to Billy Crystal. And it’s not surprising considering how popular the series became. But even with a huge fan following and ratings to match, not every A-list Hollywood actor was clamoring to be on Friends.
The legendary movie star Julia Roberts did agree to appear in a very special Friends episode. However, she made a specific demand of Matthew Perry first. The weirdest part of all? He agreed to her odd request.
NBC decided to air a new ‘Friends’ episode after the ’95 Super Bowl
Television viewers are well aware that the Super Bowl is one of the most watched programs of the year. Even non-sports fans tune in for the spectacle — and the commercials.
TV execs use this to their advantage. They always come up with something special to premiere after the big game, hoping people will leave their TVs on and keep watching. This time slot usually went to new series premieres and pilots, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But NBC went down a different path in 1995 by airing an episode of their most popular comedy.
“We decided to flip the script,” former NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield told THR. “Instead of trying a new show, we asked ourselves, ‘Why don’t we just give people what they want?’ There was nothing hotter than Friends.”
‘Friends’ producers knew they needed a special storyline
With their new night and new audience, Friends creators knew “The One After the Superbowl” had to include some special elements. In their world, that meant incredible celebrity guest stars. And who was more famous in the mid ‘90s than Julia Roberts?
The episode includes Rachel and Monica fighting over a chance to date Jean-Claude Van Damme, Joey falling for an obsessed fan (played by Brooke Shields), and Chandler reconnecting with a former classmate (Roberts) who secretly hates him.
“The One After the Superbowl,” which was split into two parts, is one of the highest-rated episodes of the series.
Julia Roberts agreed to ‘Friends’ if Matthew Perry wrote a paper
Roberts had a busy schedule and no need for a sitcom appearance. But she was willing to join Friends as a guest star for their special Super Bowl episode under one very strange, specific condition.
“Getting Julia Roberts was incredibly exciting. We knew she would have the right touch for it. And when she said yes, it was pretty awesome,” showrunner Marta Kauffman said during the THR interview.
“Do you know the story of how we got her? Matthew (Perry) asked her to be on the show,” producer Kevin S. Bright recalled. “She wrote back to him, ‘Write me a paper on quantum physics and I’ll do it.’ My understanding is that Matthew went away and wrote a paper and faxed it to her the next day.”
Quantum physics probably wasn’t the easiest thing to write about, but Perry’s efforts paid off both on screen and afterward. The two actors experienced some real-life chemistry and eventually dated for about one year after they met on Friends.
Could that BE any more fated?