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Matthew Perry Pulled An Unexpected Stunt To Land Julia Roberts On Friends

In some ways, Super Bowl XXX was as big a night for the Dallas Cowboys as it was for Matthew Perry — specifically in the sense that both the team and the actor went to amazing lengths to create one of the biggest nights in television history.

Seeking to make the most of its annual Super Bowl lead-in, NBC chose to program a two-part episode of "Friends" (in its second season, at the time) directly after the big game. Titled "The One After the Superbowl," the episode was watched by a staggering 52.9 million people and, to this day, remains the most-watched episode of television to be aired after the Super Bowl. Much of the hype around its production was largely afforded to the ensemble of A-List guest stars that would appear that night, including Brooke Shields, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and, of course, Julia Roberts.

Getting the "Pretty Woman" star on board was "incredibly exciting" for series co-creator Marta Kauffman, who told the Hollywood Reporter in a 2021 retrospective that she "knew she would have the right touch for" the character Susie Moss — Chandler Bing's (Perry) love interest for the episode. However, to get Roberts on board, multiple sources recall that she requested Perry write her a paper explaining quantum physics — which, much to his surprise, Perry succeeded at doing.

Matthew Perry understood quantum physics fine -- but chemistry was his true selling point

Matthew Perry recalled responding to Julia Robert's request in his 2022 memoir "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing." He wrote, "The following day, I sent her a paper all about wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle and entanglement, and only some of it was metaphorical." According to "Friends" staff-writer Alexa Junge, this was pretty much par for the course when it came to Perry and Robert's fax-era romance.

"She was giving him these questionnaires like, 'Why should I go out with you,'" she revealed to the Hollywood Reporter. "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." The pair began dating some time before the episode filmed, though Perry ultimately broke it off after just two months. "I had been constantly certain that she was going to break up with me," he wrote in the book, explaining in detail how his insecurities got in the way of him feeling comfortable in the relationship.

However, as far as her appearance on "Friends" goes the crew couldn't have been more smitten. "Julia Roberts was a joy," gushed director Michael Lembeck, before sharing that she experienced immense performance anxiety due to the show's live audience. NBC president Warren Littlefield, meanwhile, recalled being flabbergasted by her involvement. "I remember when I got a call and they said, 'Oh, we got Julia Roberts,'" he told THR, "and it was like, 'Are you f****ng kidding me?'"