The shock over the unexpected death of Matthew Perry, the star of the series “Friends,” spread from Hollywood to his childhood country, Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the world will remember his “joy.” Perry, 54, was known internationally for his portrayal of Chandler Bing on “Friends,” the funniest character in the sextet of the popular sitcom that ran for 10 seasons between 1994 and 2004. Lifeguards found Perry unconscious in a jacuzzi in his home in Los Angeles on Saturday and could not revive him, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times. Police confirmed that an “investigation into the death of a man in his 50s” had been opened.
Perry, whose sarcastic and tender character made millions laugh, had dealt with various addictions and serious health problems for years. But his surprising death was like a bucket of cold water for those who knew him. “He brought so much joy to hundreds of millions of people around the world with his perfect comedic tone and his wry wit,” NBC, which aired “Friends,” posted on its X (formerly Twitter) account. In Canada, where Perry grew up, Trudeau called the news “surprising.” Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer, the rest of the “Friends” cast, did not immediately react publicly. In New York, in front of the building at number 90 Bedford Street, where the series is supposed to take place (which was, however, filmed in Los Angeles), bouquets of flowers and letters in tribute to “Chandler” were piled up yesterday. Dozens of fans stopped for a few minutes to pay their respects, despite the rain.
“Friends” chronicled for ten years the lives of six New Yorkers going through adulthood, their love stories and their careers. It was a mainstay of NBC programming in the ’90s and early 2000s and was seen around the world. But despite pulling one prank after another (and making a fortune), Perry was gripped by anguish. The popular actor attended several rehabilitation clinics to combat addiction to painkillers and alcohol. In 2018 he even suffered a severe colon perforation due to drug use, which required seven hours of surgery and carrying a colostomy bag for several months. In his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and That’s So Terrible,” published last year, Perry described going through detox dozens of times and spending millions of dollars in repeated attempts to get sober. He dedicated the book to “all who suffer” and wrote in the prologue: “I should be dead.” TMZ, a celebrity publication (which broke the news of his death on Saturday), noted that no drugs were found at the scene.
Perry was born in Massachusetts in 1969 and grew up between Montreal and Los Angeles after his parents separated. Her father was an American actor and her mother was a Canadian journalist. As a teenager, Perry was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada before moving permanently to California and pursuing acting. In the 1980s, he had guest roles on popular shows such as “Charles in Charge” and “Growing Pains.” He was the last lead actor, and the youngest, to be cast in “Friends.” Perry and his co-stars together negotiated a million dollars each per episode at the end of their 236-episode series. The six actors reportedly pocketed $2.5 million each for a show about their reunion in 2021. But Perry’s confusing speech on that broadcast raised concerns. And he even surprised his co-stars by saying that he had suffered severe anxiety “every night” during the recording of the sitcom.
Perry appeared in films such as “Only Fools Fall in Love” (1997) with Salma Hayek and “Falsas Appariencias” (2000) with Bruce Willis. He was nominated for five Emmys, including two for guest appearances on the series “The West Wing,” but never won the television award.
I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.