“I’m in an exchange with the woman for whom lipstick was invented, and now I have to hit the books.”
In an excerpt from his upcoming memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, the sitcom’s star revealed that he wrote the Pretty Woman actress an entire paper on quantum physics to persuade her to sign on for a spotlight appearance in 1996’s season 2 episode “The One After the Superbowl, Part 2.”
“Julia had been offered the post-Super Bowl episode in season 2 and she would only do the show if she could be in my story line,” Perry wrote, per an excerpt from the U.K.’s The Times. “Let me say that again — she would only do the show if she could be in my story line. (Was I having a good year or what?) But first, I had to woo her.”
304422 21: Actor Matthew Perry and actress Julia Roberts hug each other on the set of “Friends.” (Photo by Liaison)
Matthew Perry and Julia Roberts on the set of ‘Friends’
| Credit: Liaison
Inspired by Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman, Perry attempted to charm Roberts by sending over “three dozen roses” and a note that read, “The only thing more exciting than the prospect of you doing the show is that I finally have an excuse to send you flowers.”
Roberts, however, didn’t send back some textbook response. “Her reply was that if I adequately explained quantum physics to her, she’d agree to be on the show,” Perry recalled. “Wow. First of all, I’m in an exchange with the woman for whom lipstick was invented, and now I have to hit the books.”
So, he rolled up his sleeves and dove headfirst into the world of quantum mechanics — and was deliciously rewarded for his hard work.
“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,” he wrote. “Not only did Julia agree to do the show, but she also sent me a gift: bagels — lots and lots of bagels. Sure, why not? It was Julia f—ing Roberts.”
The pair struck up a fast friendship via fax machine (!) that quickly transformed into something more. “I did let her in, both figuratively and literally, and a relationship began,” he recounted. “We would already be a couple by the time we started filming the Friends Super Bowl episode.”
In the hilarious episode, Roberts plays Chandler’s childhood classmate Susie Moss. The pair reunite and begin seeing one another, only for Susie’s true intentions to come to light during their date when she steals all of Chandler’s clothes as payback for embarrassing her in the fourth grade.
The show’s executive producer, Kevin Bright, recalled the scientific paper and back-and-forth faxes between Roberts and Perry in a 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“Matthew asked her to be on the show. She wrote back to him, ‘Write me a paper on quantum physics and I’ll do it,'” he said. “My understanding is that Matthew went away and wrote a paper and faxed it to her the next day.”
Staff writer Alexa Junge also remembered the notes fondly. “There was a lot of flirting over faxing. She was giving him these questionnaires like, ‘Why should I go out with you?'” she said. “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.”
But in the end, Perry noted in the book, he pulled the plug two months into their romance due to his own insecurities.
“Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me,” he wrote, per the Times. “I had been constantly certain that she was going to break up with me. Why would she not? I was not enough; I could never be enough; I was broken, bent, unloveable. So instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts. She might have considered herself slumming it with a TV guy, and TV guy was now breaking up with her. I can’t begin to describe the look of confusion on her face.”
Representatives for Roberts did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
Perry’s memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, hits shelves Nov. 1.