On October 28, 2023, Matthew Perry was found deceased at his home in Pacific Pasalides, California. As the world mourns his death, many people are thinking about what he accomplished during his life. Most notably, Matthew Perry starred as Chandler Bing in Friends, the sarcastic and witty character loved by viewers across the globe.
Throughout his career, Perry struggled with mental illness and addiction. In several interviews, the actor noted that he first began drinking at 14 and his addiction to numerous different substances began from there. In 1994, Matthew Perry made it big starring as Chandler Bing, and his fame skyrocketed. While many viewers loved the actor, behind the scenes, Perry was grappling with alcoholism in his personal life. Then, in 1997, Perry was injured in a jet ski accident for which he was prescribed Vidicon, a substance he then became addicted to. Soon after, Perry was admitted into a rehabilitation facility, although he did not stay sober. Friends co-stars struggled with Perry’s alcohol and drug dependence, remarking how it impacted the atmosphere on the show and that they cared for him as a friend, urging him to get help.
Ultimately, like many who struggle with addiction, Perry was able to get sober through his own determination. In a New York Times article, he described the moment he knew he had to get sober. In a hotel room, he decided to try to become sober again, not because he thought he should—because he was worried that he would die. In his autobiography, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir, he chronicles his road to sobriety. In the rehabilitation facility, Perry was ultimately able to work through his addiction and in his words learned to have a “happy life without alcohol or drugs.” Perry demonstrated that sobriety was not a linear journey, but a constant challenge; as he explained in his memoir, he spent 30 years trying to become sober in 15 different rehabs and spending upwards of seven million dollars.
After Friends ended in 2004, Matthew Perry went on to act in numerous different shows and movies such as The Ron Clark Story (2006), Numb (2007), 17 Again (2009) and The Odd Couple (2015–2017). In every screen Perry graced, he delivered a charming and clever performance. Although he still continued his television pursuits, Perry spent a lot of time working to help addicts get sober.
In several interviews Perry noted that when he passed, he would like to be remembered by his efforts to help people battling addiction rather than Friends. In 2013, Perry built the Perry House in Malibu, a sober living house for men. Furthermore, Perry advocated on the federal level for changes to be made within the justice system, so that individuals involved with illegal substances would be required to attend treatment rather than face prison time. Many fans also found solace and strength through Matthew Perry’s transparency around his struggles with addiction, relating their own struggles to the star.
On a personal note, I would like to thank Matthew Perry for everything he has done in his life, and express my grief that it was cut short. As a self-proclaimed Friends fanatic, I have spent countless hours laughing with Chandler Bing at his punchlines (could they be any funnier?), relating to his awkwardness and tearing up over too cute moments with Monica. Thank you for always being there for us, Matthew Perry.