Matthew Perry, actor best known for Friends, dies at 54

Matthew Perry, best known for playing Chandler Bing in the hit TV sitcom Friends, has died at 54, according to reports.

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Perry drowned at his home in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, sources including a representative for the actor and law enforcement said, according to NBC News. Other US outlets also reported Perry had died.

After small roles in Growing Pains, Beverly Hills 90210 and Dream On, Perry scored a role in NBC sitcom Friends in 1994. The comedy, about six friends living in New York City, quickly became a phenomenon, winning multiple Emmys and scoring record ratings.

Perry was 24 when he started playing the role and went on to feature in 10 seasons with the finale reaching over 52 million US viewers, making it the most watched TV episode of the 2000s.

“People come up to me every day and say, ‘Hey Chandler!’ I don’t respond to it,” he said in a 2014 interview. “If somebody says, ‘Hi Matthew, I love your work’, that’s one thing. But if somebody goes ‘Yo, Chandler’, I don’t like that. I’m tired of it. I’m not Chandler.”

During his tenure on Friends, Perry starred in films including Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek, Three to Tango with Neve Campbell and The Whole Nine Yards with Bruce Willis.

In a 2002 interview with the New York Times, he confessed: “I wanted to be famous so badly. You want the attention, you want the bucks, and you want the best seat in the restaurant. I didn’t think what the repercussions would be.”

Perry’s personal life was afflicted by addiction, starting in 1997 when he became addicted to pain medication after a jetski accident. He later claimed to not remember three years of his time on Friends and to spending over $9m on his fight to stay sober.

“I was taking 55 Vicodin a day, I weighed 128lbs, I was on Friends getting watched by 30 million people – and that’s why I can’t watch the show, because I was brutally thin,” he said.

Once Friends ended in 2004, Perry’s next small-screen lead was in Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip which was cancelled after one season. In 2009 he starred in hit comedy 17 Again alongside Zac Efron and later guest-starred on both The Good Wife and The Good Fight.

Perry also led one season sitcom Go On and a remake of The Odd Couple which lasted for three seasons. In 2016 he wrote and starred in play The End of Longing which opened in the West End and later transferred to Broadway.

In 2022, his autobiography Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing became a bestseller. The Guardian’s Barbara Ellen called it “harrowing and revealing about the juncture where extreme compound addiction collides with mega-celebrity”. In the book he writes: “You have to get famous to know that it’s not the answer. And nobody who is not famous will ever truly believe that.”

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