Could Matthew Perry be any more persistent?
Past Friends co-creators and writers recently chatted with The Hollywood Reporter about the hit show’s episode “The One After the Super Bowl,” which celebrates its 25th anniversary on Thursday, Jan. 28. The show aired after the 1996 NFL Championship and featured guest stars such as Julia Roberts, who was there thanks to cast member Perry. The two were dating at the time and she played his character Chandler Bing’s former grade school classmate and fleeting love interest.
“Matthew asked her to be on the show,” Friends co-creator Kevin Bright said. “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.”
Perry and Roberts are believed to have dated briefly before and after the episode aired, according to multiple reports. Friends staff writer Alexa Junge said, “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 added. “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.”
Indeed, Roberts certainly admired Perry’s performance on the show. “I remember standing with her on the sidelines. She kept saying, ‘Chandler’s so funny!’ And I’m like, ‘I wrote every one of those lines!'” writer Jeff Astrof recalled. “I don’t know if she fell in love with Matthew on the spot but they soon started dating. I felt like Cyrano [de Bergerac]. Like, Chandler is going to date Julia Roberts and I’m going to go home to my horrible girlfriend. That’s my memory of that episode.”
In a February 1996 interview on The Late Show With David Letterman, Roberts acknowledged that she was “dating this Matthew Perry guy” and talked about how they met.
“He called me up…out of the blue,” she said. “I was very nervous because he’s awfully clever and funny and handsome.”