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James Michael Tyler

James Michael Tyler

Like Lana Turner in the proverbial malt shop, James Michael Tyler's life took a serendipitous turn when he was discovered in a Hollywood coffee shop where his ability to work a cappuccino machine oddly resulted in his casting as Gunther of the Central Perk café on the first year of Friends.

Tyler was born in tiny Winona, Mississippi as the youngest of five children raised by a retired Air Force captain and a homemaker. His father later served as a small-town sheriff there in a Mayberry-like environment (Somebody might steal a blueberry pie once in a while, said Tyler, who has no trace of a Southern accent). When he was 11, his parents died and he moved to Anderson, South Carolina, to live with his sister.

Tyler became fascinated with the local rock and caves around his town and enrolled at Clemson University as a geology major, earning a bachelor of arts degree. While waiting for an assignment from the Exxon Corporation, an actor/friend convinced him to audition for the drama department at the University of Georgia. His whim paid off when he was accepted and he left the school with a master of fine arts degree in drama ('I decided I didn't want to spend five years of my life on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico').

After performing in local summer stock theater, Tyler packed up and moved to Los Angeles in 1988 where he shared a two-bedroom apartment with eight roommates and a dog for four years. He became a production assistant on the feature film Fat Man and Little Boy and made enough contacts to become an assistant apprentice film editor. During this time, he also worked as an extra and practiced his music as a keyboardist.

Although Tyler began his lengthy stint on Friends without any dialogue, he eventually has crafted a character that is known to hate Ross (David Schwimmer) -- and adore Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). 'Gunther is a nice guy, but a little socially inept,' he says. Off the set, Tyler prefers to write music and can practice his keyboard in his own studio at home where he refers to his special kind of sounds as classically tinged electronica. He also enjoys playing tennis and golf as well as jogging. He is active in the Lili Claire Foundation and AIDS Project L.A. charities. He and his wife, Barbara, a personal trainer, reside in Hollywood.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

James Michael Tyler Facts

OccupationActor
BirthdayMay 28, 1962 (55)
SignGemini
BirthplaceWinona, Mississippi, USA

Selected Filmography

Not available.