How Matthew Perry persuaded Hollywood star Julia Roberts to appear in Friends

She appeared in "The One After the Superbowl"

Actress Julia Roberts attends the "Money Monster" premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 12, 2016 in Cannes
(Image credit: Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage via Getty)

Julia Roberts in Friends may be one of the most memorable moments for many fans of the hit show. 

But it seems like the Pretty Woman star took a bit of persuading before she agreed to appear. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in honor of the 25th anniversary of the double-length episode, The One After the Superbowl, the show's creators, writers and more discussed the excitement of having the wonderful Julia on the show. 

Show co-creator Marta Kauffman revealed that: “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.”

Kevin Bright, executive producer, then disclosed that it was actually actor Matthew Perry who asked her to be on the show.

“Matthew asked her to be on the show. 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,” he explained. 

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And it seems like the relationship between Matthew and Julia went from strength to strength. Friends staff writer Alexa Junge went on to share that: “They may have met before the episode, but she was interested in him from afar because he’s so charming.”

“There was a lot of flirting over faxing. She was giving him these questionnaires like, “Why should I go out with you?” And everyone in the writers room helped him explain to her why. He could do pretty well without us, but there was no question we were on Team Matthew and trying to make it happen for him.”

Actor Matthew Perry, actress Lisa Kudrow, actress Jennifer Aniston and actress Courteney Cox attend the 53rd Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 21, 1996

(Image credit: Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

The director of both episodes, Michael Lembeck, went on to disclose that Julia Roberts’ name wasn’t even featured on the original script. “I’m looking at the original shooting script right now and Julia’s name is not on the cast list,” he said. “It’s an actress with the initials M.C. It could be that we kept her off deliberately so nobody would know.”

Julia ended up making an appearance in this 1996 episode, The One After the Superbowl, where she played Susie, a former classmate of Chandler (Matthew Perry’s character), who secretly seeks revenge.

The One After the Superbowl reportedly garnered a staggering 52.9 million viewers. Julia’s performance was brilliant and she seems to have made an equally great impression on her colleagues.

“Julia Roberts was a joy,” Michael Lembeck confirmed. “She hadn’t been in front of a live audience since she did Agnes of God onstage when she was 15. The first night, she held my hand so tightly before she went on that I thought she was going to break my knuckles. Her performance anxiety was extraordinary.”

She might have been a little nervous at first, but Julia Roberts in Friends is a moment we’ll never forget!

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.

Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.

In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for 

After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!