Many of the people that watched the Friends reunion show wondered what had happened to their favorite barista at the Central Perk. It turns out that perhaps the reason why “Gunther” was not present in the reunion show was his failing health. Actor James Michael Tyler has been battling cancer for a few years now.
His current condition is quite complicated. Friends and family though speak of the great desire to live exhibited by Tyler. Sadly his condition is currently not great.
Battling The Disease
Back in 2018, James Michael Tyler was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He revealed on the show “Today”, that he’s currently dealing with stage 4 cancer. He was sadly very realistic about his chances. Saying,
“Eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me,”
According to his manager and friend, Toni Benson, who talked to PEOPLE magazine recently about Tyler’s condition. He mentioned that Tyler was very hopeful after the first round of treatment. Unfortunately, his condition has considerably worsened through the pandemic.
Through the pandemic riddled 2020 Tyler’s cancer spread to his spine. Something that has effectively left him in a wheelchair. According to Benson, the current condition has still not completely broken Tyler’s spirit. He mentions that even in a wheelchair Tyler continues to be active and mobile to the best of his ability.
Although his revelation to the Today show was gutwrenching friends and family still feel Tyler hasn’t lost his will to live. At this point though acting or other former mainstays of his daily life are pretty much gone.
He Still Makes Money From “Friends”
Thanks to his time on Friends Tyler doesn’t necessarily have to work to be able to pay for his treatment. At least that’s what the numbers seem to indicate. Before his initial diagnosis in 2018 Tyler was still very much a working actor. He mentioned in an interview around this time that he of course wasn’t making the famous one million dollars an episode paycheck that the starts of the show got.
At the time though it was speculated that as “Gunther” he had made around 4.5 million dollars. He also mentioned in an interview that he indeed received residuals from the show. The amount of money he currently makes from the show is unknown though.
Giving Hope To Others
It seemed to be important to Tyler to ensure that his appearance on Today was not just about himself. Instead, he was able to use the platform to provide hope to people who were battling similar situations. Tyler mentioned that his condition was “easily treatable” if it’s something that is caught early. He then alluded to the importance of regular check-ups and early screening saying,
“I don’t want people to have to go through what I’ve been going through, this is not … an easy process.”