Matthew Perry Talks About His Addiction and How ‘Friends’ Saved Him

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Known for his portrayal of the sarcastic Chandler Bing on “Friends,” Matthew Perry is peeling back the curtain on his three-decade addiction struggles in his upcoming memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.”

Perry’s addiction was with him during “Friends,” but he says his castmates provided a beacon of hope for him during his dark times.

“They were understanding, and they were patient. It could be said that (doing the show) saved me,” he told People in advance of the book’s release.

Perry, 53, was 24 when he landed the role of Chandler, a part he would play for the duration of the hit show’s decade-long run that ended in 2004. When he got the part, his alcohol addiction was just starting, but it was only the beginning of his troubles, with his weight often fluctuating.

“If you gauge my weight from season to season — when I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I am skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills,” he writes in his book, which comes out Nov. 1.

Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox made “Friends” one of TV’s most memorable sitcoms.NBC

He told People he initially had a handle on his addiction.

“I could handle it, kind of, but by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” he said, while noting he reached a point where he would take 55 Vicodin a day and weighed 128 pounds.

Perry has been to rehab 15 times and undergone 14 surgeries related to his addiction. He once went to the hospital when his colon burst.

“The doctors told my family that I had a two percent chance to live. That’s the time I really came close to my life ending,” he said.

In 2021’’s “Friends” reunion, Perry opened up about the stress he felt to perform while on the show.

“To me, I felt like I was going to die if they didn’t laugh,” he said.

“If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out,” he added.

Friends - Season 1
Perry, front and center, was 24 when he got the part of Chandler on “Friends.” He’s very candid about how his addiction worsened during the series’ run.NBC

He has also opened up about how his addiction affected his time on “Friends.”

“I don’t remember three years of it,” he said in 2016 on BBC Radio 2’s “The Chris Evans Breakfast Show.”

“A little bit of the time, I was a little out of it, yeah,” he added.

Perry says sharing his experiences in his memoir can potentially help others who may need it.

“My hope is that people will relate to it and know this disease attacks everybody,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re successful or not, the disease doesn’t care.”


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