Tributes pour in after 'Friends' actor Matthew Perry's shock death
29 October 2023
Los Angeles (AFP) -
Shock over the sudden death of 'Friends' star Matthew Perry rippled through Hollywood and beyond Sunday, as the beloved sitcom's creators paid tribute to the actor and fans gathered outside the New York apartment building featured on the show.
Perry, 54, was known globally for his portrayal of wise-cracking character Chandler Bing on the wildly popular 'Friends,' which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.
First responders found Perry unconscious in a hot tub at his house Saturday and were unable to revive him, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.
Perry had battled addiction and serious health problems for years, but the sudden death of a man who delivered laughter into millions of homes was a gut-punch for those who knew him -- or who felt like they did.
'We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother,' Perry's family said in a statement to People magazine. 'Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend.'
This was 'The One Where Our Hearts Are Broken,' co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane as well executive producer Kevin Bright said in a joint statement alluding to the titles of 'Friends' episodes.
'We are shocked and deeply, deeply saddened... It still seems impossible,' they said in the statement sent to AFP.
'We will always cherish the joy, the light, the blinding intelligence he brought to every moment -- not just to his work, but in life as well.
'He was always the funniest person in the room. More than that, he was the sweetest, with a giving and selfless heart.'
In Los Angeles, people gathered before Perry's house to lay flowers.
And in New York's West Village, fans converged outside the 'Friends' apartment building.
'I just wanted to pay my respects,' said 26-year-old Canadian visitor Taylor Lanthier, who said Perry had 'had a very impactful role in my life and always has given me tons of laughs.'
There was no immediate public reaction from the rest of the main 'Friends' cast, though Maggie Wheeler -- who played Chandler's annoying on-again, off-again girlfriend Janice -- posted a photo of them together on Instagram.
'What a loss. The world will miss you Matthew Perry,' she wrote.
And Morgan Fairchild, who played Chandler's mother, wrote that she was 'heartbroken.'
'The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock,' she posted on X.
- Pain behind the laughter -
'Friends,' which followed the lives of six New Yorkers navigating adulthood, dating and careers, drew a massive global following.
But even as he delivered on-air gag after gag -- and earned a fortune -- Perry was struggling.
He attended multiple rehabilitation clinics to combat addiction to painkillers and alcohol. In 2018 he suffered a burst colon, related to drug usage, and underwent multiple surgeries.
In his memoir 'Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,' published last year, Perry described going through detox dozens of times. He dedicated the book to 'all of the sufferers out there,' and wrote in the prologue: 'I should be dead.'
'I have mostly been sober since 2001,' he wrote, 'save for about sixty or seventy little mishaps over the years.'
TMZ, which first reported the news of Perry's death, said no drugs were found at the scene. The Los Angeles Times and TMZ both said there were no signs of foul play, citing anonymous sources.
- 'Games' with Trudeau -
Perry was born in Massachusetts, then raised between Montreal and Los Angeles after his parents separated.
His father was a US actor and his mother a Canadian journalist who worked as a spokesperson for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Trudeau's son, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, recalled playing 'schoolyard games' with a young Perry. 'I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them,' Trudeau posted on X.
As a teenager, Perry was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada before moving to California and pursuing acting.
In the 1980s, Perry had guest roles in popular shows including 'Charles in Charge' and 'Growing Pains.'
He was the final, and youngest, lead actor cast for 'Friends.'
Perry and his co-stars -- Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer -- negotiated $1 million each, per episode, by the end of their zeitgeist-setting 236-episode run.
The gang reportedly pocketed a solid $2.5 million each for a reunion show in 2021.
Perry surprised his co-stars by admitting to suffering severe anxiety 'every night' during the sitcom's filming.
Perry appeared in movies such as 'Fools Rush In' and 'The Whole Nine Yards.'
He was nominated for five Emmys, including two for guest appearances on 'The West Wing,' but never won the prestigious award.