This article discusses substance abuse and addiction and may be triggering for some readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-875-6213.
On Oct. 28, Matthew Perry, who starred as Chandler Bing in the hit series Friends, was found unresponsive at his Los Angeles home. He was 54.
Perry’s death was confirmed by the Los Angeles Police Department who responded to a call at the actor’s address regarding the death of a male in his 50s. Though an autopsy has been completed, the cause of death hasn’t yet been confirmed.
As the devastating news broke, fans took to social media to mourn Perry’s loss—prompting an outpouring of love for the actor as well as recognition of his long-time commitment to helping others get sober.
In a joint statement to People, Perry’s Friends castmates—Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer—expressed their grief.
“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. 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,” the statement read. “For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”
Born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Perry spent most of his childhood in Ottawa, Ontario with his mother Suzanne Perry, who worked as a press secretary for then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Perry had run-ins with current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the playground, who Perry said he beat up in an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Matthew Perry’s passing is shocking and saddening. I’ll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved – and you will be missed.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 29, 2023
Perry lived between Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto before moving to Los Angeles, California at the age of 15 to live with his father, actor John Bennet Perry. After a couple of years in Los Angeles, Perry decided to pursue a career in acting, landing small roles in TV and film.
Perry was cast as the charming and sarcastic Chandler Bing on Friends at the age of 24. The beloved sitcom ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, earning Perry a Primetime Emmy nomination for his role in 2002. He received four other Emmy nominations for various roles throughout his career.
As an individual formerly addicted to alcohol and prescription painkillers, the actor devoted the latter half of his life to helping others get sober, including turning his former Malibu home into a sober living facility for men called the Perry House, which ran until 2015.
Perry spoke candidly about his long-time struggle with drug and alcohol addiction in his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. Perry used his memoir to assure others who were also struggling from addiction they weren’t alone.
“If they hear a story from somebody they’ve seen on TV that’s worse or the same as theirs, they’ll be filled with hope,” Perry said in an interview with People.
While Friends was undoubtedly Perry’s biggest success, the actor said in a podcast interview with Tom Power he would rather be remembered for his ability to help others overcome their addiction than for his role on the iconic sitcom.
However, Perry’s legacy well transcended the screen. While promoting his memoir in 2022, Perry said: “I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker. And his paramount thing is that he wants to help people. That’s what I want.”
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