James Michael Tyler attended Anderson University, and later Clemson, earning a degree in geology, which was a childhood interest of his, via LaReeca Rucker. He developed an interest in acting and went to the University of Georgia, where he earned a master of fine arts degree. In 1988, he moved to Los Angeles, with just $200 in his pocket. His lucky break on “Friends” started out playing an extra, going to the audition because he’d heard they wanted someone with coffee experience.
Screen Rant notes that Tyler had real-life experience as a barista, and because of this, he was the only extra on the “Friends” set that knew how to work the espresso machine. As for Gunther’s iconic white hair — that was the result of an accident. But the producers liked the look so much that he was asked to keep it, and he had to treat his hair regularly over the show’s 10-year run. While he had no lines during the first season, Tyler’s Gunther became one of the most popular regular guests on the show and appeared in 148 out of 236 “Friends” episodes.