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How Matthew Perry persuaded Julia Roberts to do 'Friends' Super Bowl episode

It was all thanks to Matthew Perry, who'd been charming Roberts behind the scenes.
/ Source: TODAY

Matthew Perry deserves all the credit for getting Julia Roberts to appear on "Friends."

The "Pretty Woman" star was a special guest on the NBC sitcom's Super Bowl episode in 1996 — and now the show's producers are revealing it was all thanks to Perry, who was working hard to charm Roberts behind the scenes.

Matthew Perry and Julia Roberts on the set of "Friends." Perry got the "Pretty Woman" star to appear on the show after flirting with her via fax machine.Courtesy Getty Images / Getty Images

"Do you know the story of how we got her? 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,'" the show's co-creator Kevin Bright told The Hollywood Reporter during a conversation about the episode.

"My understanding is that Matthew went away and wrote a paper and faxed it to her the next day," Bright added.

The episode, titled "The One After the Super Bowl," aired minutes after the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 25 years ago. It was packed with special guest stars, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chris Isaak, Brooke Shields and Roberts, who played Susie Moss, a former grade school classmate of Chandler's (Perry).

Perry and Roberts dated for a short time following Roberts' guest appearance.Courtesy Getty Images

"Friends" staff writer Alexa Junge explained that Perry and and Roberts had been using fax machines to send flirty messages to one another.

"They may have met before the episode, but she was interested in him from afar because he’s so charming. There was a lot of flirting over faxing. She was giving him these questionnaires like, 'Why should I go out with you?'" said Junge. "And everyone in the writers room helped him explain to her why."

Perry, who went on to date the Hollywood A-lister after the episode aired, "could do pretty well without us, but there was no question we were on Team Matthew and trying to make it happen for him," added Junge.

The chemistry between the two actors is apparent onscreen. But unfortunately, for Chandler, his former classmate Susie is only flirting with him to get revenge for a nasty prank he pulled on her in the fourth grade.

Writer Jeff Astrof remembered Roberts gushing about Perry's performance.

"I remember standing with her on the sidelines. She kept saying, 'Chandler's so funny!' And I'm like, 'I wrote every one of those lines!'" Astrof recalled. "I don't know if she fell in love with Matthew on the spot but they soon started dating. I felt like Cyrano (de Bergerac). Like, Chandler is going to date Julia Roberts and I'm going to go home to my horrible girlfriend. That's my memory of that episode."