Actor James Michael Tyler, known for the role of Central Perk coffee shop worker Gunther on Friends, has revealed that he has stage 4 prostate cancer.
The 59-year old actor recently appeared on The Today Show where he opened up to host Craig Melvin about receiving the diagnosis in September 2018. He shared that it was revealed to him during a routine physical that he had advanced prostate cancer that had spread to his bones.
“I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years,” he began. “It’s stage 4 [now], late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.”
He added that he was placed on hormone therapy that “worked amazingly” for about a year, but “right at the time of the pandemic” the cancer “progressed” and spread throughout his body. He shared that this affected his spine, which led to paralysis of his lower body.
Fans will recall that the cast of Friends recently reunited for the first time for a special on HBO Max, which premiered last month. Tyler appeared virtually on the special and shared with The Today Show that he wanted to be a part of the event despite not being able to attend in person.
“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?” he said. “… I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.’ ”
He added that his goal is to “help save at least one life by coming out with this news” and encouraging people to get a PSA screening to detect the disease early.
Actor James Michael Tyler (@slate_michael) played Gunther on “Friends” for 10 years, but he was unable to attend the recent cast reunion in person because he’s been battling a serious health issue. Now he’s sharing his news for the first time with @craigmelvin. pic.twitter.com/272tg4Sbvc
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 21, 2021