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31st Oct 2023

Matthew Perry’s Friends co-stars break silence after actor’s death

Steve Hopkins

‘We were more than just castmates. We are a family’

The cast of Friends have released a statement saying they are “utterly devastated” following the death of Matthew Perry.

Perry, 54, died on Saturday after being found unresponsive in a jacuzzi at his Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, home.

A post-mortem examination was inconclusive and officials are awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

In a joint statement, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow said Perry’s death was an “unfathomable loss”.

“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew,” the Friends cast said in the statement released to the BBC.

“We were more than just castmates. We are a family. There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss. In time we will say more, as and when we are able.

“For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”

Perry, best known for playing Chandler Bing in the iconic ’90s show, had a long-running and well-publicised battle with addiction to painkillers and alcohol and was in and out of rehab, spending millions on trying to get clean. This led to numerous health issues: In 2018, his colon “exploded” because of opiate abuse, requiring seven-hour surgery. He was given a 2 per cent chance of making it through the first night. Perry did but spent the next two weeks in a coma. He also suffered pancreatitis in 2000.

His struggles with addiction were documented in Perry’s 2022 memoir ‘Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.’

Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Janice on the first four seasons of ‘Friends’ wrote on Instagram: “What a loss. The world will miss you Mathew Perry. The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.”

Paget Brewster, whose ‘Friends’ character Kathy dated Chandler in season 4, wrote on X: “I’m so very sad to hear about Matthew Perry. He was lovely to me on Friends and every time I saw him in the decades after. Please read his book. It was his legacy to help. He won’t rest in peace though…He’s already too busy making everyone laugh up there.”

Kathleen Turner, who played Helena Handbasket, one of Chandler’s parents on Friends, told People that she was “very sad for Matthew” after learning about his death. “He had a good sense of humour and a good heart. He liked other people, which, to me, is terribly important, especially for an actor,” she added.

Hank Azaria, who appeared in several episodes of the sitcom, playing Phoebe Buffay’s (Kudrow) boyfriend David, said Perry had been like a “brother” to him.

In a video posted on Instagram, he said: “Matthew was the first friend I made in Los Angeles when I moved there. I was 21 he was 16.

“We did a pilot together… we became really good friends and we were really more like brothers for a long time.”

Azaria added: “From a recovery perspective, I mean I’m a sober guy for 17 years. I want to say that the night I went into AA [Alcoholics Anonymous], Matthew brought me in. “The whole first year I was sober, we went to meetings together and he was such a great… I got to tell him this. As a sober person he was so caring and giving and wise and he totally helped me get sober.”

Lindsay Posner, who directed the play The End Of Longing, written by and starring Perry, paid tribute to him on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme saying the actor was always “very, very warm and generous, and keen to keep everyone entertained the whole time.”

“He was very keen to be thought of as a serious actor, a comic actor,” she continued.

“I was a bit worried because he’d never done any stage acting before… but he’d honed his craft with Friends in front of a live audience for years and years and it really showed. You couldn’t tell he’d never been on a London stage before.”

The play was an autobiographical one about addiction.

Fans of ‘Friends’ gathered outside the TV show’s apartment building and left floral tributes, Variety reported.

“He’s had a very impactful role in my life and always has given me tons of laughs, and it’s sad to hear about his passing,” Taylor Lanthier, 26, told AFP news agency.

“Chandler is a funny guy. He’s a loving guy. He’s someone who’s very dedicated to his friends,” she added. “And that’s what I think Matthew was as well.” Tributes came in over the weekend from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Friends creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and Maggie Wheeler, who played on-screen girlfriend Janice.

Perry starred on ‘Friends’ for 236 episodes over 10 seasons, from 1994 to 2004, and was one of the core cast members alongside, Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc and Schwimmer.

‘Friends’ was nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards, and won for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2002.

In 2021, the cast got back together for the Max special ‘Friends: The Reunion.’

Perry also starred in series such as 2006’s ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,’ 2012’s ‘Go On’ and a 2015 ‘Odd Couple’ revival, as well as films such as 1997’s ‘Fools Rush In,’ 2000’s ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ and 2009’s ’17 Again.’

Related links:

Fans praise Matt LeBlanc for having Matthew Perry’s back after live interview mix-up

Why Matthew Perry’s last seven Instagram posts were about Batman

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

Jennifer Aniston’s four-word warning that ‘saved’ Matthew Perry during Friends filming

Friends creators pay heartbreaking tribute to Matthew Perry 

Lisa Kudrow reportedly wants to adopt Matthew Perry’s dog Alfred

Matthew Perry perfectly shut down journalist who called addiction a ‘fantasy’

Matthew Perry tackling the Friends ‘apartment quiz’ on Graham Norton Show was just great TV

Matthew Perry’s ‘iconic’ final line of Friends resurfaces