The one where he decides to share it all. Matthew Perry rocketed to worldwide fame thanks to the success of Friends, but off screen, his addiction was taking a massive toll.
“You can track the trajectory of my addiction if you gauge my weight from season to season — when I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills,” the Almost Heroes star wrote in his memoir, Friends, Lovers & The Big Terrible Thing, which hits stories on Tuesday, November 1.
Perry noted that a drastic difference in appearance is sometimes visible from episode to episode. “Compare … how I look between the final episode of season six and the first of season seven — the Chandler-Monica proposal episodes,” he wrote. “I’m wearing the same clothes in the final episode of six and the first of seven [it’s supposed to be the same night], but I must have lost fifty pounds in the off-season.”
The actor played sarcastic Chandler Bing on the beloved sitcom, which ran from 1994 to 2004. Over the years, his character had a grand romance with Courteney Cox‘s Monica Gellar, the sister of his college best friend, Ross (David Schwimmer). The cast was rounded out by Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc.
In his memoir, Perry recalled having his first drink with friends at the age of 14. “The world made sense; it wasn’t bent and crazy. I was complete, at peace. I had never been happier than in that moment,” the Massachusetts native said about drinking for the first time. While Perry’s first drinks made him feel “normal” for the first time, he experienced an entirely new sensation after being given a pain pill after getting into a jet ski accident on a movie set in 1997.
“As the pill kicked in, something clicked in me. And it’s been that click I’ve been chasing the rest of my life. … I couldn’t believe how good I felt; I was in complete and pure euphoria,” he recalled. “I was on top of the world. It was the greatest feeling I’d ever had. Nothing could ever go wrong. As I drove that red Mustang convertible to my rented house in Vegas, I remember thinking, If this doesn’t kill me, I’m doing this again.”
The Fools Rush In star later added: “A year and a half later, I was taking fifty-five of those pills a day. I weighed 128 pounds when I checked into Hazelden rehab in Minnesota, my life in ruins.”
Through all of the ups and downs, Perry’s Friends costars were there to support him. “[Jennifer Aniston] always took time to listen to him, even when she was busy or had her own issues to deal with,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively in October 2022. “Matthew feels that these people who stood by him when the chips were down, Jennifer included, saved his life without question. They gave him the will to carry on and get healthy, even though it took a huge amount of willpower of his own.”
Kudrow — who wrote the foreword for Perry’s memoir — explained that the cast became family during their time working together. “[Addiction is] a hideous disease, and he has a tough version of it. What’s not changing is his will to keep going, keep fighting and keep living,” the Comeback star told the New York Times in October 2022. “I love Matthew a lot. We’re part of a family. I’m basically ending this with ‘I’ll be there for you’ [the Friends theme song], but it’s true. I’ll always be there for him.”
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