Aisha Tyler is reflecting on her time on Friends almost 20 years after her character Charlie Wheeler became a recurring character on the popular sitcom.
The actress spoke to Entertainment Tonight about her experience joining the NBC series and how the cast was kind and welcoming, even though she was “petrified.”
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“My knees were knocking. I was shocked you couldn’t hear my teeth chattering the entire time I was on set,” Tyler said. “We walked out, and we did a curtain call [where] everybody [does a] bow to the audience at the end of the show. As we’re backstage, Matthew Perry just leans in and goes, ‘Get ready for your life to change.'”
She added, “It was a really sweet, kind thing to say to someone who’s just petrified and just trying not to pee on herself a little bit from fear.”
The Criminal Minds actress recalled that Perry was right in saying her life was about to change, considering that Friends was the biggest show on television at the time.
“Sometimes you don’t really know what a job is going to do, how it’s going to change your life,” Tyler explained. “You don’t know if it’s going to be a hit. You don’t even know if it’s going to be good. You’re just there to do your best work. But I knew when I got Friends that it was a big deal.”
The actress made sure she went into the audition room for the sitcom having seen every episode and considering herself a fan. She recalled the day she walked onto the set and tried to spot a naked guy across the street, referencing the show’s Ugly Naked Guy. “Fortunately, it’s just a hallway back there,” she quipped.
Tyler said she believes that being a fan of the series helped her land her role because she knew how to tell a Friends joke.
“The show had a tempo,” she explained. “It had a way of kind of turning things on their head and emphasizing words in different ways … [than] you would in normal conversation. … They just had a way with wordplay and a way with them with delivering lines. It just felt unique to the show.”
She continued, “To this day, people come up to me and go, ‘Charlie, Charlie,’ or they just go, ‘Black girl from Friends.'”
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