Matthew Perry, ‘Friends’ star, dies at 54

Chicago
By Chicago 6 Min Read

Matthew Perry, who starred as Chandler Bing in the hit series “Friends,” has died. He was 54.

The Emmy-nominated actor was found dead of an apparent drowning at his Los Angeles home Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone and celebrity website TMZ, which was the first to report the news.

His publicists and other representatives did not immediately return messages from USA Today seeking comment.

Asked by the Associated Press to confirm police response to what was listed as Perry’s home address, LAPD Officer Drake Madison said that officers had gone there “for a death investigation of a male in his 50s.”

The stars of “Friends”: David Schwimmer (from left), Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc pose after the show won outstanding comedy series at the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2002, Los Angeles.

The stars of “Friends”: David Schwimmer (from left), Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc pose after the show won outstanding comedy series at the Emmy Awards in 2002 in Los Angeles.

AP

Perry co-starred on “Friends” for the 10-season run of the show, from 1994 to 2004, and appeared in all 234 episodes. He also starred in the films “Fools Rush In” “Almost Heroes” and “17 Again.” On TV, he followed his “Friends” role with short-lived series including Aaron Sorkin’s NBC drama “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” the ABC comedy “Mr. Sunshine” and appearances on CBS’ “The Good Wife” and streaming spinoff “The Good Fight.”

An HBO Max “Friends” reunion special in 2021 was hosted by James Corden and fed into huge interest in seeing the cast together again, although the program consisted of the actors discussing the show and was not a continuation of their characters’ storylines.

Perry received one Emmy nomination for his “Friends” role and two more for appearances as an associate White House counsel on Sorkin’s NBC political drama series “The West Wing.”

The actor’s first big screen role came in the 1988’s “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon,” filmed in Chicago.

He recalled the experience with great fondness years later in his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” released in 2022: “I had never been so excited in my life. It was in Chicago, and on this movie, and with River Phoenix, that I fell deeply in love with acting — and the cherry on top of this deeply magical time was that River and I became firm friends. He and I drank beer and shot pool on North Rush Street.”

Perry would go on to several notable film roles, starring opposite Salma Hayek in the rom-com “Fools Rush In” and Bruce Willis in the the crime comedy “The Whole Nine Yards.”

But it was his role as Chandler Bing on “Friends,” opposite Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc, that defined his career.

Related
  • When young Matthew Perry had ‘the best experience of my life’ in Chicago

In his memoir, Perry opened up about life behind the scenes of the hit sitcom, chronicling his battle with alcohol and drugs. Perry wrote with candor and compassion and showed his dedication to continue to fighting a near-fatal battle.

“There is light in the darkness,” Perry wrote in the prologue. “You just have to look hard enough to find it.”

David Schwimmer (from left), Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox Arquette, Paul Ruddand, and Lisa Kudrow appear in this scene from the series finale of NBC’s “Friends.”

David Schwimmer (from left), Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox Arquette, Paul Ruddand, and Lisa Kudrow appear in this scene from the series finale of NBC’s “Friends.”

AP

Throughout the book, Perry details an array of health complications stemming from his substance use, including alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction and pancreatitis at age 30. But one of the most eye-opening experiences in his journey was when he nearly died at age 49 after his colon exploded from opioid use. As a result, the actor was in a coma, on life support, for two weeks. What followed was five months in the hospital and nine more with a colostomy bag — a traumatic experience that ultimately “miraculously remove(d) my desire to take drugs.” 

“My therapist said to me, ‘The next time you think about OxyContin, I want you to think about living out the rest of your days with a colostomy bag,’” he writes. “Having had a colostomy bag for nine long months, my therapist’s words hit hard. And when this man’s words hit hard, the prudent thing to do is to get into action immediately.”

In fall of last year, Perry said he was 18 months sober. He said he was grateful to be alive and to finally share his story — with concerned “Friends” fans and addicts who face stigma and judgment. 

“In the end, admitting defeat was winning,” he wrote. “Addiction, the big terrible thing, is far too powerful for anyone to defeat alone. But together, one day at a time, we can beat it down.”

Contributing; Jenna Ryu; The Associated Press

Read more at usatoday.com

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