Friends star James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther, reveals stage 4 cancer diagnosis

The star has battled prostate cancer for almost three years.
The star has battled prostate cancer for almost three years. Photo credit: Friends Facebook

Friends star James Michael Tyler, the actor who played fan favourite Gunther throughout the show's 10 seasons, has revealed he is battling stage 4 prostate cancer.

Tyler told US TV show Today that due to the severity of his cancer - which has now spread to his bones - he was unable to join the recent Friends reunion in person.

"It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn't wanna bring a downer on it, you know?... I didn't want to be like, 'Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer'."

The 59-year-old played Gunther, the Central Perk coffee shop manager, throughout the show's 10-year run.

Tyler said he was diagnosed in 2018 during a routine annual checkup.

"I've been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years... it's stage 4. Late-stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it's gonna probably get me," he told Today.

He said the cast and crew are aware of his diagnosis.

Tyler is now urging fans to get cancer screenings, saying the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis. 

Fighting back tears, he said early detection is key and he regretted not listening to his "wonderful wife".