Friends’ Matthew Perry On The Wild Way He Had To Convince Julia Roberts To Appear On The Show

Over the course of its 10-year run, Friends had some great guest appearances. Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Reese Witherspoon barely begin to scratch the surface of A-listers who showed up on the popular NBC sitcom, but one of the most memorable guest performances definitely came from Julia Roberts. It turns out, however, that the story of how the Ticket to Paradise star came to play the woman who abandoned Chandler naked in the ladies room of a restaurant is just as memorable, and Matthew Perry relays that tale in his upcoming memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing

Julia Roberts appeared on the classic Season 2 episode “The One After the Superbowl: Part 2.” She played Susie Underpants, er, Susie Moss, a childhood friend of Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry). She agrees to date him, with the ulterior motive of exacting revenge from 20 years prior, when a fourth-grade Chandler had lifted Susie’s dress up, exposing her underpants to an entire auditorium, thus earning her an unfortunate nickname. Her revenge was well-deserved and well-executed, but the hoops that Perry jumped through to get Roberts there in the first place seem nearly as intense. He writes in the memoir (via an excerpt from The Times U.K. (opens in new tab)): 

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.

I can’t imagine the ego boost Matthew Perry must have gotten when he heard the Pretty Woman actress only wanted to be a part of his story. I get it, though, since Chandler was so funny and would seemingly promise a good storyline for the movie star. Perry said he sent her three dozen roses, but she requested something else as well. He continues:

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.

I bet the Fools Rush In star never thought the day would come in his acting career that he’d be asked to explain quantum physics, but it sounds like he got right to work, as he writes in his memoir: 

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 fucking Roberts.

If Julia Roberts offers you a bagel, you take it! If she offers you mangled animal carcass, you take it! 

That is a truly unique story, and the actor can rest assured that his hard work paid off. That episode, along with Julia Roberts’ appearance in it, remains a classic moment in television history even 25+ years later.

Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing will address Matthew Perry’s struggles with addiction, and he’s promised not to sugarcoat any portions of his past when it comes to his feelings about his Friends co-stars, including the time Jennifer Aniston confronted him about his drinking. It’s likely welcome news for fans that along with recollections of those tougher times, we’ll also get some lighter behind-the-scenes memories from his days on the show. The memoir is set to hit shelves Tuesday, November 1 and, in the meantime, all 10 seasons of the sitcom are available for streaming with an HBO Max subscription.  

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.