James Michael Tyler was born the youngest of five children on 28 May 1962 in Winona, Mississippi, USA to a retired Air Force captain and a homemaker. When he was eleven years old, his parents died and James moved to Anderson, South Carolina to live with his sister. He studied at Clemson University and graduated with a degree in Geology, but got his Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Georgia. During this time, he was a member of a student theatre group, the Clemson Players. This experience sparked his interest in becoming an actor. In 1988 he moved to Los Angeles and became a production assistant for “Fat Man and Little Boy” and an assistant apprentice film editor. He supports the Lili Claire Foundation and AIDS Project L.A charities. James is married to a personal trainer named Barbara and both are currently living in Hollywood. Tyler plays the keyboard in his studio at home and writes music. He also enjoys playing tennis, golf, and jogging.
James Michael Tyler as "Gunther"
From 1994 till 2004 James Michael Tyler played Gunther on the hit NBC sitcom Friends. Gunther was a coffee shop worker at Central Perk who had a crush on Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston. Tyler was an extra who was cast as Gunther because he was the only extra who knew how to operate an espresso machine. (Tyler used to work in several coffee shops before acting.) This casting behind the coffee bar led to the semi-recurring speaking part of Gunther. Tyler's signature peroxide blonde hair was actually accidental. The day before the Friends audition, one of Tyler's acquaintances, who studied to become a hairdresser, experimented on his hair. When Tyler showed up for the audition, the producer liked it so much they decided to keep it. Like his character Gunther on Friends, Tyler is a cigarette smoker.
James Michael Tyler as Himself
Tyler appeared in 93 of the 236 episodes of Friends. This makes him the actor who has appeared most often in the series, except for the six main cast members.
- "The Disturbance at Dinner" as Wilson Pomade (1998)
- "Foreign Correspondents" as Randy (1999)
- "Motel Blue" as Oscar Bevins (1999)
- "Shaving Ryan's Privates" as Tom Spanks (2003)
- "Live With It" as Andrew (2008)
- Just Shoot Me! as a Doctor (2000)
- Sabrina, the Teenage Witch as Ethan (2001)
- Scrubs as Therapist (2005)
- He appeared in the unaired pilot satire sitcom Nobody's Watching, playing himself as a present from the studio executives on the set of Central Perk
- He starred in the music video for Chicane's dance track 'Come Tomorrow', playing the part of a postman, miming the lyrics throughout the video
- He appeared as a judge on Iron Chef America - Morimoto/Flay VS. Sakai/Batali
- He appeared on the UK BBC series and in the US Showtime series "Episodes" (S02E06) in the final scene. The storyline of the episode being that LeBlanc (As himself) is called to get a former cast member from Friends.