On October 29, 2023, beloved actor Matthew Perry, best known for his iconic role as Chandler Bing in the hit TV sitcom “Friends,” has passed away at the age of 54. The actor’s body was found in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home, marking a end to a life filled with both professional success and personal struggles.
Matthew Perry’s portrayal of Chandler Bing in “Friends” left a mark on the world of entertainment. His character was known for his quick wit, sarcastic humor, and personality, making him a fan favorite throughout the show’s ten-season run.
The series, which followed the lives of six friends living in New York City, became a cultural phenomenon and continues to have a dedicated fanbase worldwide.
Perry’s journey to stardom began in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1969. He was born to actor John Bennett Perry and Suzanne Morrison, who served as the press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and is married to “Dateline” correspondent Keith Morrison.
Growing up between Montreal and Los Angeles following his parents’ separation, Perry’s early life was marked by an interest in tennis, where he achieved national recognition as a teenager before relocating permanently to California to pursue a career in acting.
In the 1980s, Perry made his early forays into the world of television, appearing in guest roles on popular shows such as “Charles in Charge” and “Growing Pains.” However, his breakthrough came when he was cast as Chandler Bing in the beloved TV series “Friends.”
Chandler Bing was a character known for his quick, self-deprecating humor, which perfectly complemented the dynamics of the close-knit group of friends on the show.
The chemistry between Perry and his co-stars, including Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer, was electric and contributed to the show’s success. As the series continued, the cast members negotiated salaries, eventually earning $1 million per episode.
Despite the success of “Friends,” Matthew Perry faced personal battles that were largely hidden from the public eye.
Perry struggled with addiction to alcohol and various drugs, including painkillers. He discussed his struggles in his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” which was published in 2022.
In the book, he revealed that he had his first drink at 14 and didn’t fully recognize the signs of his alcoholism until he was 21.
Over the years, he estimated spending over $7 million on attempts to get sober, including multiple stints in rehab.
Perry’s addiction took a severe toll on his health. He underwent 14 major surgeries on his stomach, with some of them directly linked to his drug usage.
In 2018, he suffered a burst colon, which resulted from his drug addiction, requiring multiple surgeries and the use of a colostomy bag for months.
Perry achieved periods of sobriety, with the longest being since 2001, aside from a few relapses. His struggles with addiction were well-documented, and he shared his journey in the hope of helping others facing similar battles.
He dedicated his book to “all of the sufferers out there” and wrote, “I should be dead.” Perry’s addiction issues had an impact on his work.
He revealed that the pressure to perform on “Friends” led him to anxiety and the fear of not getting the expected laughs from the live audience.
The desire to make people laugh and the fear of failure haunted him throughout his time on the show. Jennifer Aniston, his co-star, once confronted him about his inebriation on set, reflecting the close-knit bonds among the cast members.
In addition to his role on “Friends,” Perry also made contributions to the world of film. He starred alongside Salma Hayek in the romantic comedy “Fools Rush In” and shared the screen with Bruce Willis in the crime comedy “The Whole Nine Yards.”
These roles showcased his versatility as an actor, even though he remained forever cherished as Chandler Bing. Following the conclusion of “Friends,” Perry continued to work in the entertainment industry.
In 2015, he took on the role of Oscar Madison in a CBS reboot of “The Odd Couple,” which aired for two seasons.
He found joy in performing in front of a live audience again, relishing the connection with viewers. Despite not reaching the same levels of fame he achieved with “Friends,” he continued to pursue his passion for acting.
Perry’s struggles with addiction and his openness about them in his memoir made him an inspiration to many.
He sought to raise awareness about the challenges of addiction, using his own experiences to help others find the strength to overcome similar obstacles. His willingness to share his story and the lessons he learned serve as a lasting legacy of his life.
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