‘Friends’ co-creators say Matthew Perry was “happy and chipper” before death

In October 2022 – one year before his death – Matthew Perry said, “if I did die, it would shock people, but it wouldn’t surprise anybody.”

Observing extreme shifts in Perry’s behavior on the set of their hit show Friends, co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane said they were always “kind of bracing” for the shocking death of the beloved star, who for decades struggled with addictions.

But in the years before he died, the comedic genius had been sober and “in a good place,” surprising millions when he died October 28.

Crushed by the news of his death, the creators of Friends recalled that Perry was “chipper” in the weeks before, and echoing the sentiments shared across the world, they said “it’s not fair.”

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On October 28, when Matthew Perry was found dead in the jacuzzi of his Los Angeles home, the world stood still as millions of fans tried to resolve the loss of one of Hollywood’s brightest stars.

In the hours leading up to his death, the 54-year-old star of Friends played pickleball and then sent his assistant out on an errand.

He slipped into the warm waters of his jacuzzi and when his assistant returned, the Emmy-nominated actor was in the water, unresponsive. Toxicology results are still pending further tests.

Born in 1969 to an American father and Canadian mother, Perry broke out into superstardom for his role as Chandler Bing on the iconic series that ran from 1994 to 2004. He went on to star in movies like the Whole Nine Yards franchise, Fools Rush In and 17 Again. On TV, he appeared on The West Wing, The Good Wife, and most recently, as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple remake. 

In his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry detailed his decades-long battle with substance abuse, including the years he starred on Friends.

The star, who was not married and had no children, writes that he started drinking as a teenager and dates his addiction to pain medication back to 1997.

Perry also shares his alcohol dependency started as a 24-year-old when he was first cast on Friends. “I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” Perry confessed. “But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, ‘That should tell me something.’”

Perry admits that he spent more than half of his life in treatment and rehab facilities, trying to shake his decades-long struggle with addiction, which sometimes led to hospitalizations for a range of ailments.

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Supportive friends

Marta Kauffman and David Crane, the writers and co-creators of Friends, said they were aware of Perry’s addiction journey over the years and that their priority was to support him.

“I talked to him about it actually right after the reunion [which aired in 2021],” Kauffman told Today. “Once he went into treatment, he was open about it. Unless he was using.”

In a joint interview on the Today show, Kauffman and David Crane, the creators of Friends, recalled their last conversations with the brilliant star who played the sharp-tongued Chandler on their hit TV show.

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Describing their heartbreak in hearing that their friend was found dead last weekend, the pair shared how he seemed to be “in a really good place” only two weeks before he died.

“He was happy and chipper,” Kauffman said of her conversation with Perry, who played the beloved Chandler for 10 seasons. “He didn’t seem weighed down by anything. He was in a really good place, which is why this seems so unfair.”

Kauffman said she was in “utter shock” after hearing the news last weekend.

“My first instinct was to text him, honestly. And then deep sadness. So much sadness. It’s hard to grasp,” she said, fighting back her tears. “One minute he’s here and happy and then poof. And doing good in the world. Really doing good in the world.”

Matthew Perry. (photo by Newsmakers)

Kauffman continued, “He seemed better than I had seen in a while. I was so thrilled to see that. He was emotionally in a good place. He looked good. He quit smoking. Yes, he was sober. He learned things throughout this and what he learned more than anything is that he wants to help other addicts, and it gave him purpose.”

Meanwhile, Crane explains his thoughts about Perry earlier voicing that people would be shocked but not surprised when he dies. He said, “Given the journey he’d been on, and we were all aware of it, there was always a part that was kind of bracing for something like this. It is hard to believe, because he was such an alive person that it’s hard to believe he’s not here.”

Closing the interview, Kauffman added, “I lost a friend in multiple ways, and what’s amazing is the outpouring from the fans who lost a friend of theirs, too. And I hope wherever he is, he feels it.”

In an exclusive interview, ‘Friends’ creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane remember Matthew Perry. They speak to @hodakotb about the loss of the actor, the last conversations they had with him and the impact he made in the world. pic.twitter.com/96FcJkbghE

— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 1, 2023

While Friends stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer haven’t spoken publicly about the passing of their pal, the group issued a statement.

It reads, “We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. 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.” The tribute continues, “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.”

385848 01: Cast members of NBC’s comedy series “Friends.” Pictured: David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani. (Photo by Warner Bros. Television)

The loss of Matthew Perry will be felt for decades! We hope he’s found some peace.

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