Matthew Perry, the beloved actor known for his portrayal as Chandler Bing on the hit sitcom Friends, passed away on October 28, age 54. The Los Angeles Police Department is still investigating the cause of his death, and on Monday, they gave some updates.
Perry struggled with both drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life, but in later years, he devoted his time to helping others. In fact, he didn’t want to be remembered for his acting or role on Friends in the first place but rather how he wanted to help people to a better life.
Throughout his life, Matthew Perry had several relationships but never married or had children. Now, after his death, the well-known celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow breaks her silence, revealing how she and Perry once had a secret romance.
Matthew Perry became a worldwide phenomenon when he, alongside his co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer, appeared as the main characters in Friends for the first time.
His life was never going to be the same after the first episode aired, and Perry struggled with addiction for many years. Ultimately, his life tragically ended on October 28, after his assistant found him unconscious in his jacuzzi.
Matthew Perry – early life
So, how did Matthew Perry rise to fame in the first place? Born Matthew Langford Perry on August 19, 1969, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, his father split with his mother while Matthew was still an infant. However, they later remarried.
Speaking on his childhood, Matthew Perry recalled it as tough as he moved around a lot. His mother was residing in Canada, and his father had relocated to California. Therefore, he had to travel by himself plenty. Speaking with People in 2022, Perry recalled how he was put on a plane from Montreal to Los Angeles by himself when he was only five years old.
“I was terrified,” he said. “My feet didn’t even touch the floor. And then when I saw the lights of the city, I knew we were landing, that my dad was going to pick me up, and I’d have a parent again.”
While Matthew Perry’s father tried to fulfill his dream of becoming an actor in Los Angeles, his mother lived a stressful life in Canada. In his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, he described himself as a “latchkey kid.”
Suzanne was a press secretary for Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau – the father of now-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (whom Matthew went to school with) – and it was very intense. Therefore, she was often distracted and stressed out, and Matthew realized he could try and make her laugh to get her attention.
“Mom and I were both abandoned, in fact, before we’d even gotten the chance to know each other,” Matthew Perry wrote in Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.
“I learned to be funny (pratfalls, quick one-liners, you know the drill) because I had to be,” he continued. “And me being funny tended to calm her down enough that she would cook some food, sit down at the dinner table with me, and hear me out, after I heard her out, of course.”
Matthew Perry’s first acting roles
Growing up, Matthew Perry was a great tennis player. He was nationally ranked, the late actor told Men’s Health in 2012, but at 15, he moved to Los Angeles to reunite with his father.
Besides tennis, acting was a big passion of his. He tried walking in his father’s footsteps, and in 1987, while still in high school, Perry got his first role in the sitcom Second Chance. The year after, he was cast in his first movie role, starring opposite River Pohenix in A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.
Both projects didn’t end in any recognition, and moving into the 1990s, Matthew Perry landed several small parts and guest appearances in comedy shows. He got his first recognition in the television biopic Call Me Anna. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a significant breakthrough.
Instead, Matthew Perry continued to star in several sitcoms, including Home Free, and later ended up being cast in a pilot for the show LAX 2194. Then, his life changed forever.
As Matthew Perry struggled with getting any prominent roles, Friends creators Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane were also at low points in their careers, not knowing what the next step would be.
They had just had an unsuccessful run with a sitcom called Family Album, but then, they had an idea. As they became nostalgic, thinking about finishing college and moving to New York City, things started to move.
“We were looking at a time when the future was more of a question mark. Maybe because that’s what we were feeling at the moment, but looking at that question mark and going: that’s interesting. Everybody knows that feeling,” Marta Kauffman told NBC in 2004.
Why Matthew Perry almost lost out on the role of Chandler in ‘Friends’
By December 1993, they had a seven-page pitch ready for a show called Insomnia Café.
“It’s about sex, love, relationships, careers, a time in your life when everything’s possible. And it’s about friendship because when you’re single and in the city, your friends are your family,” read parts of the pitch.
NBC liked the idea and bought it. At the same time, Kauffman and Crane had begun writing the pilot episode for the script. It was titled Friends Like Us, though the show was eventually changed to simply Friends.
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer all wanted a role and went to the audition. But it was far from certain that Mathew Perry would have been on the show at all.
In 1994, when he had taken the job on the pilot for LAX 2194, Perry had gotten the word from his “terrible” manager that he was broke. At the same time, he had read the script for Friends and thought it was “hilarious and great.”
Sadly, he was under contract for LAX 2194.
“There was this part that was perfect for me, and it was making me crazy that I couldn’t go up for it because [of] the baggage handlers show,” he added. “I was losing my mind.”
Luckily for Perry, the executive at Fox called the pilot “the worst thing we’ve ever seen in our lives” and proceeded to tell Perry that he was free to leave.
“‘He is available. You can hire him for your little show called Friends Like Us that then became Friends,’” Perry recalled the executive saying.
Matthew Perry reportedly made $1 million per episode on last season of ‘Friends’
Weeks before his Friends audition, Perry found himself in his apartment in Los Angeles – more specifically on Sunset and Doheny – praying for his life to change for the better.
“Out of nowhere, I found myself getting to my knees, closing my eyes tightly, and praying. I had never done this before,” Matthew Perry wrote in his 2022 memoir. “God, you can do whatever you want to me. Just please make me famous.”
“Three weeks later, I got cast in Friends. And God has certainly kept his side of the bargain — but the Almighty, being the Almighty, had not forgotten the first part of that prayer as well,” he said, referring to his health struggles and addiction.
With casting done – which Friends creator Marta Kauffman confirmed was a challenging process – the show was set to film. From the first time the six actors gathered on set for rehearsals, Kauffman knew something big would happen.
“The first was our very first rehearsal when we had all six of them onstage for the first time, and they read the scene in the coffeehouse. I got chills up and down my spine and thought, ‘This is special. There is something about these six, this script for them, that’s special,’” she told Rolling Stone Magazine.
As of today, Friends is considered one of the biggest sitcoms in history, staying on television for ten seasons and a total of 236 episodes.
It became a huge success worldwide, and Matthew Perry and his co-stars were paid generously. In the final seasons, it’s said that the Friends cast earned a staggering $1 million per episode.
Over 50 million people watched the finale of season 10. Across all platforms, the show has been streamed more than 1 billion times.
Matthew Perry’s longtime struggles with addiction
Still to this day, even though it’s been 20 years since the last episode aired, the cast is said to earn about $20 million per year just for the reruns. That’s because they get two percent of the show’s syndication revenue, as reported by The Independent. Netflix reportedly paid $80-$100 million just to keep the show on its platform through 2019.
Matthew Perry’s life changed forever as he became a world superstar on Friends, portraying the hilarious Chandler Bing. But while his prayer about becoming famous had become a reality, his health and addiction became more and more severe.
In 1997, Perry was in a jet ski accident. He was prescribed Vicodin, and his addiction went in a downward spiral.
“It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it,” he told People in 2002. “But from the start, I liked how it made me feel, and I wanted to get more.”
While Perry was always showing up to work and cracking jokes as Chandler, outside of work, his addiction worsened. Soon enough, it showed physically, as he lost 20 pounds quickly.
“I had this odd rule that I would never drink on a set,” Perry told The New York Times. “I went to work in extreme cases of hangovers. It’s so horrible to feel that way and have to work and be funny on top of that.”
“I don’t remember three years of it,” Perry revealed in an interview with the BBC about filming Friends while struggling with his addiction. “I was a little out of it at the time — somewhere between Seasons 3 and 6.”
‘Friends’ co-stars “hopelessly” stood on the sidelines
His Friends co-stars knew Matthew Perry struggled. They tried to help in the best way possible.
“I tried to talk to him,” Matt LeBlanc, starring as Joey Tribbiani on Friends, told People. “There wasn’t a response. It’s such a personal struggle; they need to bottom out on their own.”
“When Matthew was sick, it was not fun,” Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe Buffay, recalled in an interview with the New York Times about Perry’s struggles during the 2000-2001 season. “We were just hopelessly standing on the sidelines. We were hurting a lot. Matthew is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life. He’s charming and hilarious. Most of our hard laughs came from Matthew.”
Matthew Perry reportedly spent $7 million trying to get sober and went to rehab on 15 different occasions. He ultimately overcame his demons and dedicated his time to helping others in their addiction, supporting them with all of his heart.
“The best thing about me, bar none, is that if somebody comes to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking, can you help me?’ I can say ‘yes’ and follow up and do it,” Matthew Perry said on the Q With Tom Power podcast in 2022.
“When I die, I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that’s mentioned,” he continued. “I want [helping people] to be the first thing that’s mentioned, and I’m gonna live the rest of my life proving that.”
Matthew Perry lived a very complicated life, struggling with addiction for many years. However, there were, of course, also some happy moments, including being in love. Still, the late actor never married or had children.
Matthew Perry – relationships, dating history, engagement
Over the years, Perry was in several high-profile relationships, including dating Julia Roberts and Lizzy Caplan, known from the hit 2004 movie Mean Girls.
“Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me,” Perry wrote in his memoir. “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, unlovable.”
“So instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts,” he continued. “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.”
He and literary manager Molly Hurwitz engaged in 2020; however, only a year later, the couple announced they had split. Just a year before his death, he opened up about wanting to become a father.
“I think I’d be great, I really do. I grew up with a lot of little kids around me, and that’s probably why, but I can’t wait,” he said.
There are very few things a celebrity can keep a secret. But it appears that Mathew Perry managed to keep one of his romances a secret until after his tragic passing.
On Instagram, actress Gwyneth Paltrow shared a beautiful tribute to Matthew Perry after his passing was confirmed.
Gwyneth Paltrow reveals she and Matthew Perry had a summer fling
She revealed that the two had a summer fling just before he became a superstar on Friends.
“I met Matthew Perry in 1993 at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts. We were both there for most of the summer doing plays. He was so funny and so sweet and so much fun to be with,” Paltrow wrote, captioned with a picture of Matthew from his earlier acting days.
“We drove out to swim in creeks, had beers in the local college bar, kissed in a field of long grass. It was a magical summer. He had shot the pilot of Friends but it had not aired yet. He was nervous, hoping his big break was just around the corner. It was,” she continued, adding that the two stayed friends for a while but eventually “drifted apart.”
“I hope Matthew is at peace at long last. I really do,” Gwyneth Paltrow concluded.
In his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry wrote about his time with Gwyneth Patrow, describing how they met at a party. They “slipped off into a broom cupboard and made out.”
“This was the last summer of my life when I could make out at a party with a beautiful young woman called Gwyneth,” Perry wrote in his memoir. “And no one, save Gwyneth and I, cared.”
Matthew Perry died on October 28, aged 54, in an apparent drowning accident at his Los Angeles home.
‘Friends’ cast release statement on Matthew Perry’s death
The police in Los Angeles are still investigating the details surrounding Perry’s death. CNN sources say there is currently no foul play suspected. However, it remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department Robbery-Homicide Division.
In the last few days, former colleagues, friends, and others have paid tribute to the late actor, famously portraying Chandler Bing on Friends. In a statement to People Monday, his co-stars on the sitcom, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer, paid tribute to their late co-star and friend.
“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates, we are a family,” the statement read. “There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.”
“In time we will say more, as and when we are able,” they continued. “For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”