Some characters that come and go on our favorite shows don’t often get the respect that they really deserve, or they just don’t get noticed as much despite the fact that they’re always there and are just waiting to be noticed. Anyone that watched every season of Friends however might have noticed Gunther, the barista, who was there for the entire show and didn’t even get to speak in the first season. Only when the second season came up and he was finally seen as someone that might have some skill was he given any lines and the ability to interact with the rest of the cast. The funny thing is that he is college-educated and has a masters degree, so one would have thought he could have found another job as something other than an extra. But considering that he was one of the only people on the set that knew how to work the espresso machine that was so prominent at Central Perk he was kept on, and once it was learned that he did have the capability of interacting with people he was finally given a decent position on the show.
That however didn’t really go all that far since after Friends he didn’t seem to land a lot of prominent roles that weren’t him playing himself. In short, Gunther was probably his most iconic role, and on a show like Friends that is saying something since even the extras were noticed from time to time and did manage to pick up a fan base now and again. As of now though James hasn’t really been doing a lot but he has opened up a coffee shop in London that is very much like Central Perk, meaning that he hasn’t ever really let go of his role on the show. When it comes to who did well and who just kind of fizzled when the show was over and done with, James lands in the latter group largely because he did try to create a career and he did have the education and experience, but he just didn’t have the star power it would seem or the ability to get people on board with his character that much. That is one unfortunate thing when it comes to being an extra, you tend to get looked over, walked over, and eventually passed over as an actor in favor of the talent that’s already been selected as being pertinent and truly needed for the project. In all fairness Gunther added another layer to the show, a bit of realism that was great to see and no doubt helped the seasons to keep rolling by with a great deal of continuity, but he was more or less a prop that was used continuously, a prop that was allowed to speak and interact, but still a prop. Abigail Malbon from Cosmopolitan has more to say on this matter.
Stating that his acting days, or that his days in show business, are pretty much over seems kind of harsh but it’s been since 2013 that he did anything worthy of note and at this point it does seem as though he’s stepped well away from the camera and focused on his coffee shop and his life. It does seem as though people might see him at events now and again if he’s invited but other than this it doesn’t seem as though he really gets noticed all that much. Of course when you look at the careers of those that were on the show there are a few of the big names that didn’t really got that far after all was said and done, as pretty much everyone but Jennifer Aniston has slowed way down in their production and even she seems as though she might be slowing down now and again compared to how much she used to do. James though has truly fallen off the map and while he’s not hard to find since he does stay on social media and does like to reminisce about the old days it doesn’t look like he’s running all out to get back in front of the cameras. In a way some folks that don’t quite make or don’t make it for anything other than a role as an extra are usually better off finding something else or possibly finding a slew of smaller roles that can help their career continue along a moderately successful track. It would seem though that James attempted to find success after Friends, but it just never happened that way.
Likely some folks will remember Gunther, especially if they were fans of the show and watched every episode since he did show up pretty regularly and was someone that the main cast interacted with on a pretty regular basis. As of now however he might see them in passing but that’s as close as they ever get.