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30th Oct 2023

Friends star pays tribute to ‘brother’ Matthew Perry who helped him get sober

Simon Kelly

“He was so caring and giving and wise.”

The Simpsons star Hank Azaria has paid touching tribute to his “brother” after Matthew Perry passed away at the age of 54 on Saturday, October 28.

Azaria, who guest-starred in Friends as Phoebe’s boyfriend David, posted a video to Instagram saying that Perry was the first friend he made in Los Angeles after he moved to the city.

“Matthew was the first friend I made in Los Angeles, when I moved there. I was 21, he was 16,” Azaria began.

“Matthew and I became really good friends and we were really more like brothers for a long time. We drank a lot together, we laughed a lot together, we were there for each other in the early days of our career,” the actor said.

The 59-year-old, best known for voicing Moe Szyslak and Chief Wiggum on The Simpsons, reminisced about his time spent with his old friend when they were just starting out in acting and how Perry would have him “crying laughing” most nights, saying he “lived to laugh”.

Perry was candid about his addiction issues throughout his career, and opened up more about it in his 2022 memoir ‘Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing’.

Azaria, who himself struggled with addiction, said he found it difficult to read his old friend’s autobiography.

“I really loved him. A lot of us who were close to him felt like we lost him to drugs and alcohol a long time ago because — as he documented in his autobiography — there was so much suffering.

“I had to pick up and put down that biography, like, 11 times, it was so painful for me to read,” he said, adding that the details in the book were “devastating.”

The actor then reflected on how Perry helped him battle addiction and ultimately get sober.

“I’m a sober guy for 17 years, and I wanna say that, the night I went into AA, Matthew brought me in. The whole first year I was sober, we went to meetings together,” Azaria continued.

“He was so caring and giving and wise. And he totally helped me get sober. And I really wish he could’ve found it in himself to stay with the sober life more consistently.

“But it’s heartbreaking, for those of us who loved him and knew him really well, personally. We just missed him. We just missed him. It’s one of the terrible things about this disease, is it just takes away the person you love.”

He concluded, “As an actor, he was so brilliant. I just wish we – I and the world – could have gotten what the rest of his career would’ve been.”