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Tom Selleck Recalls His Time On Friends And The Line Matthew Perry Had To Repeat For Him Over And Over So He Could Get It

 Tom Selleck as Richard Burke on Friends.
Tom Selleck as Richard Burke on Friends.

Friends had a number of iconic and memorable guest stars -- including Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and even Julia Roberts -- throughout the course of its historic run. Amid that, Tom Selleck -- who played Monica’s much older boyfriend Richard -- remains a fan favorite. While reflecting on the passing of Matthew Perry, Selleck opened up about a memory he has of the actor. At the time, he had a hard time getting one of his lines right, and Perry stepped in to lend a hand.

The late comedian was known for his iconic cadence when it came to delivering a joke. He always put emphasis on certain words, and it became a big part of his character, Chandler Bing. In one scene, Tom Selleck was meant to imitate his co-star and his delivery. The line was “Could that shot be any prettier,” but Selleck couldn’t quite get the emphasis right, as he wasn’t aware of the character trait. He told USA Today:

Matthew had this speech pattern that I hadn't been aware of.

Every Friends fan knows exactly what this cadence is, but if the Blue Bloods star had been unaware, it probably made it very difficult to imitate Matthew Perry correctly. In the past, he's also admitted to being "terrified" when working on Friends, so the nerves probably didn't help when trying to land a joke he was unsure about. Luckily, Perry was readily available to help with the delivery and kept repeating himself until the Magnum PI lead got it right. He said:

Matt told me: 'It's a joke, Tom. It's the way he says it.' But during that whole show, I kept going up to him asking, 'Can you say it again?' and he'd do the line. That was his signature.

After Tom Selleck got it right, I’m sure the joke landed perfectly. It was always fun to watch the show's characters tease each other, and it was also a joy to see Richard getting involved in the joking. The Richard character was particularly memorable because of his significant age difference from the rest of the "Friends." The writers played with this dynamic, and Selleck ended up becoming a major character for a notable stretch of the show. He had great chemistry with on-screen girlfriend Courteney Cox, and was well missed after Richard and Monica broke up. Chandler and Monica's relationship may be iconic, but many surely still hold a soft spot for Richard.

This behind-the-scenes story from the 79-year-old actor is one of many that's been shared in the aftermath of Matthew Perry’s death. Marlo Thomas, who played Rachel’s mom on the show, talked about how generous he was as a scene partner. Perry's former girlfriend, Julia Roberts, opened up about how welcoming he and the rest of the cast were to the Friends guest stars, and how great her experience was working on the show. While Perry may have had a sarcastic and glib persona on the show, it sounds like he has the kindest heart, and wanted to help his cast members succeed in whatever way he could. He is tremendously missed.

You can revisit Tom Selleck’s run on Friends by streaming the show now with a Max subscription. Fans can also check out Matthew Perry's best movies and TV shows.