Huge news out of Tinsel Town today as WarnerMedia finally confirmed that the upcoming Friends reunion special will include James Michael Tyler, the man who played iconic Central Perk manager Gunther. He’ll also be joined, for reasons less clear, by Oscar-winning songwriter and performer Lady Gaga, K-Pop superstars BTS, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, among others.
After being delayed by the pandemic, the long-awaited reunion special finally taped in April under both strict COVID safety and anti-leak precautions. Now, HBO Max has finally started teasing some of the details.
The special itself will premiere on May 27th. The Thursday premiere date is, of course, a tip toward Friends’ traditional time slot during its NBC heyday.
The guest stars, meanwhile, fall into categories of either obvious choices or those that are more “OK, major flex, but sort of random.”
In addition to Tyler’s Gunther, several supporting and guest actors from the original run will return. That includes Reese Witherspoon (who once guested as one of Rachel’s sisters long before The Morning Show), Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles (who played Ross and Monica’s oft-featured parents), Tom Selleck (Monica’s ex-Richard), and Larry Hankin (the downstairs neighbor, Mr. Heckles). Finally, Maggie Wheeler will return as the universally beloved character, Janice.
Thomas Lennon, now best known for his work on Reno 911!, will also guest. He did once appear in an episode of Friends as Joey’s “identical hand twin,” Randall.
But that does leave a whole lot of Friends regulars off the list. Could they not get Cole and Dylan Sprouse, who once shared the role of Ross’s son, Ben? The absence of Paul Rudd, who played the man Phoebe eventually married, may also raise some eyebrows.
It’s not like the show is at a loss for guest stars, because there are a whole lot of completely random but undeniably bold-faced names announced as well. They include Lady Gaga, BTS, David Beckham, Justin Bieber, James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Kit Harington, and Mindy Kaling.
As for what all of this means, we’re not entirely sure. The reunion special has been billed as “unscripted” from the start, but there have been mixed signals as to whether or not we’ll actually see the actors reprise their famed roles.
“I’ll be myself. I’ll be David. There’s nothing scripted. We’re not in character ... yeah ... so it’s all, we’re all ourselves,” David Schwimmer told British chat host Graham Norton last month. “The real people. Although there is one section of it that, I don’t want to give away, but we all read something.”