Friends Central
Advertisement

Matthew Langford Perry (August 19, 1969 - October 28, 2023) was an American actor who garnered global recognition with his portrayal of Chandler Bing on Friends, which made him an international celebrity and earned him an Emmy nomination in 2002 for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series award. He was the most well known actor of the principal cast, and along with the rest of the main cast, participated in the 2021 reunion special Friends: The Reunion.

As well as Friends, Perry also received Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his performances in The West Wing (2003) and The Ron Clark Story (2006). He played a leading role in the NBC series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006–07). Perry also became known for his leading film roles in Fools Rush In (1997), Almost Heroes (1998), Three to Tango (1999), The Whole Nine Yards (2000), Serving Sara (2002), The Whole Ten Yards (2005), and 17 Again (2009). While known primarily for his comedic roles, Perry carved out a career in drama as well.

Aside from his acting career, Perry was also known for his mission to help people suffering from depression or addiction issues, having suffered both depression or addiction issues himself. He published his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, in November 2022.

Biography[]

Early life[]

Matthew Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts. His mother, Suzanne Jane Louise Morrison (née Langford), is a Canadian journalist and former press secretary to Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, and his father, John Bennett Perry, is an American actor and former model. Perry held dual US/Canadian citizenship. His parents divorced before his first birthday and his mother is re-married to Keith Morrison, a broadcast journalist. Perry was raised by his mother in Ottawa. While growing up in Ontario, Perry took a keen interest in tennis and soon became a top-ranked junior player. He was enrolled at Rockcliffe Park Public School, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, and Ashbury College. He was classmates with future Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

Career[]

Early television roles[]

Perry moved from Ottawa to Los Angeles to pursue acting. For high school, he attended The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. While at Buckley, Perry was featured as George Gibbs in Our Town and appeared as a junior in a production of The Miracle Worker. Patty Duke attended and praised the young Perry's convincing role as Helen's brother Jimmy. He was also featured in The Sound of Music as a junior. In his senior year, director Tim Hillman had planned a production of "The Elephant Man" specifically to feature Perry as John Merrick along with Vanessa Smith, and future Les Misérables star Lisa Capps. He then got his professional break at age 18. On being cast in A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon with River Phoenix, Perry withdrew from Elephant Man and ended his high school acting career. Perry also pursued improv comedy at the LA Connection in Sherman Oaks while still in high school, quickly becoming a featured performer.

After some guest appearances in late 1980s television, it was his intention to enroll at the University of Southern California, but when he was offered the lead role of Chazz Russell in Second Chance he became noticed on the acting scene. Perry originally starred alongside Kiel Martin when the series premiered in 1987, but after 13 episodes the format changed: Second Chance became Boys Will Be Boys, Perry was elevated to top-billing status, and the plots re-focused on the adventures of Chazz and his teenage friends. Despite the shift, the show ran for only one season. When it concluded, Perry stayed in Los Angeles and made guest appearances on television programs, such as Growing Pains, Who's the Boss?, and Beverly Hills 90210 in which he portrayed a suicidal teenager.

Friends[]

In the midst of his many continuing guest roles on TV, Perry was a regular on the 1990 CBS farcial sitcom Sydney, playing the younger brother of Valerie Bertinelli's title character. Three years later, he landed his second TV starring role on the ABC sitcom Home Free, which only lasted 13 episodes in the spring of 1993. By then, Perry was making his mark, and was instantly cast in a new dramatic pilot titled LAX 2194. The project was slow to take off, so as a backup option, he attempted to secure an audition for the pilot Six of One, later to be known as Friends, by Marta Kauffman and David Crane, both of whom he had worked with on Dream On. However, due to previous commitments to the pilot LAX 2194, he was not initially considered for an audition. When he did eventually get a reading, he landed the part he was best known for, the role of Chandler Bing. which made Perry an international celebrity.

Chandlerbing

Chandler Bing, Perry's iconic sarcastic character and best-known television role

The program was hugely successful and Perry, along with his co-stars, became an international celebrity. His character was popular for his sarcastic and witty sense of humour, as well as his relationship with Courteney Cox's character Monica Geller. The program's episode "The One Where Chandler Takes A Bath" earned him an Emmy nomination in 2002 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (along with Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani). Perry was nominated for other awards for his role as Chandler, including Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series in 1996 (nominated with David Schwimmer, who played Ross Geller), Most Wonderful Wedding in 2006 (nominated with his on-screen partner Courteney Cox), Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Television Actor in 2002, and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series from 1999 to 2004, being nominated in the latter for all 6 years (alongside the whole cast).

After Friends[]

After Friends wrapped up (with Perry's character Chandler saying the last line in the series), Perry made his directorial debut in an episode of the 4th season of Bill Lawrence's sitcom Scrubs (which he also guest starred in, as "Murray Marks" an operator of a small airport's traffic control team. Murray is asked to donate a kidney to his father Gregory, played by Perry's real father).

As well as his successful career on Friends, Perry appeared in films such as Fools Rush In (alongside father, John Bennett Perry and Salma Hayek), Almost Heroes, Three to Tango, The Whole Nine Yards (alongside Bruce Willis) and its sequel The Whole Ten Yards, and Serving Sara.

While known primarily for his comedic roles, Perry carved out a career in drama as well, particularly in his portrayal of Associate White House Counsel Joe Quincy in Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing. His three appearances in that series (twice in the fourth season and once in the fifth) earned him two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2003 and 2004. Perry is referred to in the show prior to his guest appearance--Donna Moss seeks him out (off screen) in the episode "20 Hours in LA." He also appeared as attorney Todd Merrick in two episodes near the end of Ally McBeal's 5-season run, including a 2-hour special intended to revive the legal comedy-drama.

He starred in the TNT movie, The Ron Clark Story, which premiered on August 13, 2006. Perry played Ron Clark, a small town teacher who relocates to the toughest class in the country. He received a Golden Globe nomination as well as an Emmy nomination for the performance.

In 2006–2007, Perry appeared in Aaron Sorkin's hour-long drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Perry played Matt Albie alongside Bradley Whitford's Danny Tripp, a writer-director duo brought in to help save a failing sketch show. Perry's character was considered to be substantially based on Sorkin's own personal experiences, particularly in television.

In 2006 he began filming Numb, a comedy drama about a chronically depressed writer. The film's tentative release date was pushed back several times, but was finally released to DVD on May 13, 2008. He also appeared in David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago in London. In Q1 of 2009, he appeared in the film 17 Again.

Perry's new comedy pilot, Mr. Sunshine, based on his original idea for the show, was bought by ABC. He played the lead role as a middle-aged man with an identity crisis. ABC canceled the series after nine episodes in 2011.

In 2012, Perry starred in the NBC comedy series Go On, written and produced by former Friends writer/producer Scott Silveri. Perry portrayed Ryan King, a sportscaster who tries to move on after the death of his wife through the help of mandatory therapy sessions. In the same year, Perry guest-starred on the CBS drama The Good Wife as attorney Mike Kresteva. He reprised his role in the fourth season in 2013.

In 2014, Perry made his British TV debut in the one-off comedy program The Dog Thrower, which aired on May 1 as part of Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents. Perry portrayed "a charismatic man" who enchanted onlookers by throwing his dog in the air. From 2015 to 2017, Perry starred in, co-wrote, and served as executive producer of a reboot of the sitcom The Odd Couple on CBS. Perry played Oscar Madison.

In March 2017, Perry again reprised his role as attorney Mike Kresteva in The Good Fight, a sequel show to the CBS drama The Good Wife. Later that year, he starred as Ted Kennedy in the mini-series The Kennedys: After Camelot.

In May 2021, he participated in the special episode Friends: The Reunion. Perry published a memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, in October 2022. It became a bestseller on both Amazon and The New York Times charts. The book was released a year before his death in his mission to help people suffering from depression or addiction issues.

Personal life[]

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing

Perry on the cover of his his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing

Perry developed an addiction to alcohol and to ease this he then became addicted to Vicodin. He first started taking prescription drugs after a jet ski accident in 1997 and checked himself into Hazelden. In 2000 he was hospitalized with pancreatitis as a result of his addictions. During that summer he lost 20 pounds, appearing noticeably thinner during the seventh season premiere of Friends, in a scene that continued directly from the sixth season finale. He went to numerous rehabilitation centers, including Hazelden in Minnesota, Promises in Malibu, and a hospital outpatient clinic in Marina del Rey.

During the filming of Serving Sara, Perry checked into rehab. The last 13 days of filming were held up until he was well enough to return. The filming schedule on Friends was altered so scenes not featuring his character Chandler were shot first. His recovery once again caused weight fluctuations, which were particularly noticeable in Serving Sara.

In July 2011, Perry lobbied the US Congress as a celebrity spokesperson for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals in support of funding for drug courts. He received a Champion of Recovery award in May 2013 from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for opening Perry House, a rehab center in his former mansion in Malibu. In 2015, Perry sold the mansion and relocated its services.

Being a former tennis player, he was enthusiast of the sport, frequently attending the US Open and having a friendship with Jennifer Capriati. Perry was also an ice hockey fan, being a season ticket holder for the Los Angeles Kings and also an enthusiastic Ottawa Senators fan, sporting a shirt with the Senators logo in the film The Whole Nine Yards and often attending playoff games in Ottawa. He was also a fan of other teams such as; New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays etc.

Death[]

On October 28, 2023, Perry was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his home in Los Angeles and was pronounced dead at 4:17 pm that day, at the age of 54.

On November 3, Perry's funeral was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. His five Friends co-stars attended, as did his father and stepfather. The Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush song "Don't Give Up" was played at his funeral. Following Perry's death, the National Philanthropic Trust established the "Matthew Perry Foundation" to support people suffering from addictions.

On December 15, 2023, Perry's death was revealed to have occurred due to "acute effects of ketamine". Other circumstances that contributed to his death included the effects of buprenorphine, drowning, and coronary artery disease.

Filmography[]

Film[]

Year Title Role Notes
1988 A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon Fred Roberts Credited as Matthew L. Perry
1989 She's Out of Control Timothy
Fat Man and Little Boy Bomb Technician Uncredited
1994 Getting In Randal Burns Direct to video
1997 Fools Rush In Alex Whitman
1998 Almost Heroes Leslie Edwards
1999 Three to Tango Oscar Novak
2000 The Whole Nine Yards Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky
The Kid Mr. Vivian Cameo (uncredited)
2002 Serving Sara Joe Tyler
2004 The Whole Ten Yards Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky
2007 Numb Hudson Milbank Also executive producer
2008 Birds of America Morrie
2009 17 Again Older Mike O'Donnell
2015 Misery Loves Comedy Himself

Television[]

Year Title Role Notes
1979 240-Robert Arthur Episode: "Bank Job"
1983 Not Necessarily the News Bob Episode: "Audrie in Love"
1985 Charles in Charge Ed Episode: "The Wrong Guy"

Credited as Matthew L. Perry

1986 Silver Spoons Davey Episode: "Rick Moves Out"
1987–1988 Second Chance/Boys Will Be Boys Chazz Russell Main role
1988 Dance 'til Dawn Roger TV movie
Just the Ten of Us Ed Episode: "The Dinner Test"

Credited as Matthew L. Perry

Highway to Heaven David Hastings 2 episodes
1989 Empty Nest Bill at 18 Episode: "A Life in the Day"
Growing Pains Sandy Recurring role
1990 Sydney Billy Kells Main role
Who's the Boss? Benjamin Dawson Episode: "Roomies"
Call Me Anna Desi Arnaz Jr. TV movie; credited as Matthew L. Perry
1991 Beverly Hills, 90210 Roger Azarian Episode: "April Is the Cruelest Month"
1992 Dream On Alex Farmer Episode: "To the Moon, Alex!"
1992 Sibs Chas Episde: "What Makes Lily Run?"
1993 Deadly Relations George Westerfield TV movie
Home Free Matt Bailey Main role
1994 Parallel Lives Willi Morrison TV movie
1994–2004 Friends Chandler Bing Main role
1995 Caroline in the City Episode: "Caroline and the Folks"
The John Larroquette Show Steven Episode: "Rachel Redux"
1997 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Matthew Perry/Oasis"
2001 The Simpsons Himself Voice, episode: "Treehouse of Horror XII"
2002 Ally McBeal Todd Merrick 2 episodes
2003 The West Wing Joe Quincy Recurring role
2004 Scrubs Murray Episode: "My Unicorn"; director
2006 The Ron Clark Story Ron Clark TV movie
2006–2007 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Matt Albie Main role
2011 Childrens Hospital Himself Episode: "The Black Doctor"
Mr. Sunshine Ben Donovan Main roler; creator, executive producer and writer
2012–2013 The Good Wife Mike Kresteva Recurring role
Go On Ryan King Main rol; Also executive producer
2014 Cougar Town Sam Johnston Episode: "Like a Diamond"
Playhouse Presents The Charismatic Man Episode: "The Dog Thrower"
2015 Web Therapy Tyler Bishop 2 episodes
2015–2017 The Odd Couple Oscar Madison Main role; creator, executive producer and writer
2017 The Good Fight Mike Kresteva Recurring role
The Kennedys: After Camelot Ted Kennedy Miniseries; executive producer
2021 Friends: The Reunion Himself Executive producer

Theatre[]

Year Title Role Notes
2003 Sexual Perversity in Chicago Danny Comedy Theatre, London
2016 The End of Longing Jack Also playwright; Playhouse Theatre, London
2017 Also playwright; Lucille Lortel Theater, off Broadway

Video games[]

Year Title Voice role
2010 Fallout: New Vegas Benny

Specials[]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 TSN: The Hangover Angry Matthew Perry Cameo

Awards[]

Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie The Ron Clark Story (2007) - Nominated
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series The West Wing (2003, 2004) - Nominated
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Friends (2002) - Nominated

Golden Globes

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television The Ron Clark Story (2007) - Nominated

American Comedy Awards

Kids' Choice Awards

  • Favorite Television Actor Friends (2002) - Nominated

Satellite Awards

  • Best Actor in a Series, Drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006) - Nominated

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries The Ron Clark Story (2007) - Nominated
  • Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends (1999-2004) - Nominated for all 6 years (Whole cast)

TV Guide Awards

TV Land Awards

Teen Choice Awards

  • Choice TV Actor - Comedy Friends (2004)

Trivia[]

  • Matthew Perry's real life jokes were put in the scripts of Friends[1]
  • Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston met at a party in 1990 and became friends.[1]
  • Matthew Perry was the first cast member from the six Friends to pass away.

External links[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Friends co-executive producer Marta Kauffman says Perry often makes sharp script additions: "We've discovered his incredible depth. He's not just a funny guy."Prime Time's Prime Prospect (September 1995)
Advertisement