A Friend to Everyone But Himself: Matthew Perry’s Truth

“Hi, I’m Chandler, and I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable.” Matthew Perry grew to fame starring as Chandler Bing (or Miss Chanandler Bong) in ten seasons of Friends. He left audiences with pains in their sides from laughing so hard because of his charming and sometimes awkward ways.

Matthew Perry / Courtney Cox / Matthew Perry / Matthew Perry, Molly Hurwitz.
Source: Getty Images

While it is difficult to disconnect Perry from his character because they have so much in common, the actor has had a colorful life. From a failed athletic career to his struggles with addiction, Perry is much more than the “guy next door.” Here’s the untold truth about Matthew Perry.

A Child of Divorce

Born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Matthew Perry had a rocky start in life. His mom, Suzanne Marie Morrison, was a Canadian journalist and former secretary to the Canadian Prime Minister. She married John Bennett Perry, an actor and model, but the couple divorced before Perry turned one. It sounds a lot like Chandler’s childhood.

A portrait of Mathew Perry in his teens.
Source: Getty Images

After the divorce, Perry went to live with his mom and her second husband, Keith Morrison, in Ontario. According to his stepdad, Perry was a remarkable child who was always in the center of the room. He was talented from his earliest years, and Morrison knew Perry would do big things in life.

Pursuing Athletics

Like most kids in Canada, Perry started playing hockey at a young age. He was pretty good, but Perry found his true calling when he started playing tennis. During his teen years, Perry worked his way up to becoming a nationally ranked junior player in Canada. He could have been the next Roger Federer.

A picture of Mathew Perry at home.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

However, when Perry moved to Los Angeles in his teens, he soon realized he didn’t have what it took to make it big in the US tennis world. At 15, everyone he played against in LA beat him. When Perry realized he wouldn’t be a pro tennis player, he found a different career path.

First Acting Gig

While most 15-year-olds are sitting in a high school classroom, Perry was stepping onto a Hollywood set. He had just moved to LA to pursue acting and attended The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. Perry spent his spare time performing improv comedy at the LA Connection, and someone important noticed him.

A still of Matthew Perry in a scene from the show.
Source: YouTube

The next thing he knew, Perry was playing Chazz Russell on the series Second Chance. After 13 episodes, the series became Boys Will Be Boys, focusing on the adventures of Chazz and his friends. It lasted for one season, but Perry didn’t give up. He stayed in LA with his dad, and it paid off.

Movie Debut

While sitting in a restaurant, a director passed Perry a note on a napkin asking if the then-19-year-old was interested in casting. The man happened to be the director of A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, and he gave Perry a role. The film didn’t gain box office success, but critics praised it.

A still of Perry in a scene from A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.
Source: YouTube

He starred alongside River Phoenix, whom Perry said was a “health nut.” Perry recalled Phoenix frowning at him every time he ate French fries. Meanwhile, the film gave Perry a false understanding of success. He was young and naive and thought that was how big stars started.

Making the Guest Star Rounds

Over the next few years, Perry guest-starred on hit shows like Growing Pains, Sydney, and Beverly Hills 90210. He then landed a starring role on the ABC sitcom Home Free. It only aired for 11 episodes in the spring of 1993 before it was canceled.

A still of Matthew Perry in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210.
Source: YouTube

Perry also had guest roles on Who’s the Boss, Sibs, and Deadly Relations. Although Home Free didn’t work out, Perry followed it by starring in the TV movies Parallel Lives and LAX 2194. His career wasn’t going anywhere until he got an audition for the pilot of Six of One.

He Almost Missed His Chance

When Perry auditioned for Six of One, which later became Friends, directors Marta Kauffman and David Crane didn’t consider Perry for the role because he was busy with other obligations and auditions. Perry was more interested in another show that seemed promising.

A still from the show Friends.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: The WB

However, when Perry read for Kauffman and Crane, he landed the role of Chandler Bing. Initially, they were going to cast Jon Cryer or Jon Favreau, but the actors turned down the part for other projects. Favreau did appear on Friends as Monica’s rich boyfriend.

His Financial Problems Were Solved

Perry wanted to be famous more than anything. He wanted the attention and “big bucks” that came with being a Hollywood A-lister, and that dream was realized when he joined the cast of Friends in 1994. He said the part practically jumped off the page and shook his hand.

Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry pose in a promotional portrait for the series.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: The WB

The role couldn’t have come at a better time because he was struggling for money after a series of failed comedies. Perry’s financial problems were solved because he made $22,500 per episode in the first and second seasons.

An Instant Success

Friends quickly became a huge success, and Perry and his costars were everywhere. He said he was “in the white-hot flames of fame.” Perry, Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, and David Schwimmer became international celebrities overnight. They were riding the wave of fame.

A promotional portrait of Friends.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: The WB

That high lasted for about eight months. Perry said he was thrilled at first and felt like all his problems were solved. However, he soon realized that fame didn’t fill the holes in his life. Things only got worse when he had a jet ski accident in 1997.

A Jet Ski Accident Changed His Life

As Friends was entering its third season, Perry got into a jet ski accident. His doctor prescribed him Vicodin for the pain, and this is where his life took a turn. He quickly became addicted to the pain pills even though it wasn’t his intention when he started taking them.

A photo of Matthew Perry walking the street.
Photo by Joker/Star Max/GC Images/Getty Images

Perry became dependent on the pills. He liked the way they made him feel and wanted to get more. It didn’t take long for his life to begin spiraling, but he tried to keep it a secret.

Physical Changes

By day, Perry was making people laugh as Chandler, and at night he was popping pills. Eventually, Perry couldn’t hide his addictions because he lost about 20 pounds. He said he was out of control and very unhealthy, so he had to make a change.

A photo of Matthew Perry attending an event.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Perry was also drinking heavily. When he realized fame wasn’t everything he thought it would be, he turned to the bottle to fill the gaps in his life. Unfortunately, when people noticed Perry’s physical changes, they grew concerned about him, so he agreed to get help.

Sobriety Didn’t Stick

In 1997, Perry checked himself into a 28-day treatment program at the Betty Ford facility. He was able to stay sober, but Perry said he didn’t really get it. By May 2000, Perry fell off the wagon and was drinking and using pain pills again.

A picture of Matthew Perry arriving at an event.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Unfortunately, Perry’s relapse caught up with him. He was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA for pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas from alcohol abuse. It could have been deadly, but this wasn’t a wake-up call for Perry. He went back to drinking shortly after.

Out of Control

While a near-death experience would have scared most people into staying sober, it didn’t keep Perry from drinking as soon as he was out of the hospital. On his way home from the hospital, he crashed his Porsche into a house.

Perry speaks during an interview.
Source: BBC News

Luckily, no one was home when he crashed, but it could have been horrible. Perry didn’t have any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash. However, it was further proof of how out of control his life was. He was spiraling closer towards rock bottom.

He Lost a Lot of Memories

Most of his sobriety struggles took place during Friends, which impacted his time on set. Perry admitted that he had little to no memory of shooting a large chunk of the show because of his drug use. When he was asked about details of the show in an interview, Perry blanked.

Matt Le Blanc, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, and Jennifer Aniston pose for a portrait.
Photo by Neil Munns/PA Images/Getty Images

Between Season 3 and Season 6, Perry was out of it. His costars had an idea of what he was going through, and he couldn’t keep it under the radar. His addictions got so bad that Perry couldn’t hide them any longer.

His Costars Wanted to Help

While the show’s ratings were rising and Perry’s paychecks were getting bigger, nothing seemed to be enough for him. Matt LeBlanc tried to talk to him, but Perry didn’t respond well. LeBlanc said, “It’s such a personal struggle; they need to hit bottom on their own.”

Matt LeBlanc speaks during an interview.
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images

Unfortunately, his costars had to stand aside, waiting to support him when he needed it. It was all they could do, but it was hard to see their friend like that. Lisa Kudrow said, “When Matt was sick, it was not fun. We were hopelessly standing on the sidelines.”

He Showed Up Hungover

Perry’s costars worried for his safety, but he wasn’t ready to hear it. The only thing he had control over was that he wouldn’t drink on set. Despite his rule, Perry would show up to work incredibly hungover. It was horrible to feel like that at work.

A dated picture of Perry.
Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis/Getty Images

In 2001, he was working on both Friends and the film Serving Sara. Perry would commute between LA and Dallas while drinking vodka by the quart. Perry said he was sleeping and shaking at work, but that didn’t stop him. However, one day something changed.

What Happened to Matthew Perry?

On February 23, 2001, Perry felt that something had shifted inside him. He woke up in his hotel room in Dallas and decided to call his parents for help. This time, he was afraid.

A photo of Matthew Perry during an event.
Photo by Kelly Lee Barrett/Getty Images

Even though Friends and Serving Sara were still in production, Perry’s parents brought him back to LA and took him to another rehab center. He was scared he would die, but Perry is grateful for how bad it got because it made him adamant about staying sober.

His Biggest Cheerleader

Perry stayed in rehab for two and a half months, re-emerging fresh and refocused. Throughout his battle with addiction and sobriety, the one person who always supported him was his TV wife, Courtney Cox. She never turned him away or made him feel bad.

A photo of Courtney Cox and Matthew Perry during an event.
Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Perry said Cox was his biggest cheerleader throughout his journey to sobriety. She checked in on him during rehab and always believed he could have a better life. Even today, Cox still supports him even though he doesn’t remember some crucial moments in their story.

He Helped Julia Roberts

Due to its popularity, Friends had many high-profile guest stars, including Julia Roberts. Most people don’t know that Perry was responsible for getting her on the show. She guest-starred as Chandler’s former classmate, and the characters sparked a relationship. It raked up 52.9 million views.

Matthew Perry and Julia Roberts hug each other on the set of Friends.
Photo by Liaison/Getty Images

When Perry asked Roberts to come on the show, she said she would only do it if he wrote a paper about quantum physics. She wanted to see how far Perry would go. He faxed it to her the following day, and the rest is history.

The Best Time on Set

Although his addictions tainted many years of filming Friends, Perry looks back on 2004 fondly. It was the show’s final season, and he was finally clean and sober. The show’s ratings were through the roof, and it seemed like things were aligning perfectly.

A still from the show.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/ Copyright: The WB

Between his personal life and time in front of the camera, 2004 seemed to be the best time for Perry. He still looks back on that year with a certain fondness. Although he was sad that Friends was ending, he had formed true friendships with his costars.

His Personality Shaped Chandler

Perry’s depiction of Chandler Bing was always on point. He made viewers become so attached to his character that many people have a hard time separating Perry from Chandler. However, Perry was so good at playing his Friends character because it is not much different from his real personality.

A photo of Matthew Perry on the set of Friends.
Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

He added many of his own characteristics to Chandler. In real life, Perry admits that he can be awkward with the ladies sometimes, and he is a huge jokester. The biggest difference between him and his character is that Perry was once athletic.

Feelings About a Revival

Although Friends hasn’t been on the air since 2004, it is still one of the most popular sitcoms today. While there was a reunion show for the cast, Perry has some thoughts about a revival series. In short, he is not here for it.

An image of Perry on a radio show.
Photo by Alex B. Huckle/Getty Images

Perry thinks it would be terrible to do something and have it not turn out well. There are so many devoted fans of the show, and Perry wouldn’t want to ruin it for them by trying to remake something that is already perfect.

A-List Girlfriends

He might have trouble with the ladies on Friends, but Perry has dated many Hollywood A-listers. He was romantically linked to Julia Roberts around the time she appeared on the show, and they dated for about a year. He was also connected to Baywatch’s Yasmine Bleeth.

Graham and Perry pose for a picture.
Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage for Fusion PR _LA/Getty Images

Perry has also dated Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls. The two worked together on The Odd Couple and tried to see if their on-screen chemistry would work in the real world. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but they are still friends.

An Unfortunate End

One of Perry’s most significant relationships was with Lizzy Caplan from Mean Girls. He had just gotten out of a two-year relationship with Rachel Dunn, and Perry wanted to keep his new relationship private. The couple stayed out of the spotlight for six years.

Lizzy Caplan attends an event.
Photo by Leon Bennett/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Although it was one of his longer relationships, most people didn’t know Perry was dating Caplan because they were rarely seen together. Sadly, they couldn’t make things work because Perry reportedly wasn’t ready for marriage. They called things off in 2012.

Finding Love Again

After several high-profile relationships that didn’t work out, Perry found love again with literary manager Molly Hurwitz. The pair started dating in 2018 after meeting through mutual friends. Despite their significant age gap, they hit it off right away. Like many of his relationships, they kept it private.

Perry attends an event / A portrait of Molly Hurwitz.
Photo by Walter McBride, FilmMagic, Getty Images / Pinterest

They were first spotted in public together in 2019. Hurwitz confirmed their relationship with a Valentine’s Day post on Instagram. After over a year together, Perry proposed in November 2020, and fortunately for him, Hurwitz said yes. Their relationship wasn’t easy.

Is Matthew Perry Married?

Perry’s relationship with Hurwitz was up and down before their engagement. They split in May 2020 but couldn’t stay away from each other and got engaged shortly after their reconciliation. Although it looked like wedding bells were in their future, that wasn’t the case.

Perry speaks during an interview.
Source: YouTube

In June 2021, Perry called off the engagement after seven months. People had spotted him on celebrity dating apps a few weeks before he announced their split. Perry said, “Sometimes things just don’t work out, and this is one of them. I wish Molly the best.”

Giving Back

Once Perry turned his life around after struggling with addiction, he wanted to help others going through the same thing. Perry recalled that he couldn’t go anywhere without someone talking about his sobriety, and it was hard to get away from the press.

A headshot of Perry.
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Perry put in the work to get a handle on his addictions, so he turned his Malibu home into a transitional home for men struggling with addiction. The Perry House helps men get back to their daily lives after rehab, and it has been a success.

He Advocates for People Like Him

Because of his own struggles, Perry has been an advocate for drug courts, which grant non-violent addicts treatment instead of imprisonment. Perry said he finally found happiness through his work because he gets to help others. It gives him a sense of fulfillment.

A portrait of Matthew Perry.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Perry revealed that it is interesting for him to be so helpful to people after he screwed up so many times. He said, “It’s nice for people to see that somebody who once struggled in their life is not struggling anymore.” He is a role model to many other addicts.

Famous Stepdad

It might be one of Perry’s best-kept secrets, but his stepdad is renowned journalist and Dateline correspondent Keith Morrison. They actually had a very close relationship when he was growing up because his mom married Morrison when Perry was still young.

Keith Morrison and Perry take a picture together.
Source: Facebook

Morrison has always been supportive of Perry’s dreams, whether it was becoming a pro tennis player or pursuing an acting career. His stepdad always knew he would do great things, and it wasn’t a surprise when Perry landed his role on Friends. Unfortunately, Perry doesn’t have that relationship with his dad.

Strained Relationship With His Dad

Perry might have been close with his stepdad, but he didn’t have that with his biological father. He believes that the distance stemmed from his early separations from his dad. Perry joked that he was too young to blame himself for the split.

Perry poses for the press.
Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage/Getty Images

Perry and his dad, John Bennett, connected over their shared love of acting later in life. He mostly saw his dad on TV when he was young, but when Perry moved to LA, he stayed with his dad for a while. It was the first time they had lived together since Perry was a child.

Dabbling in Politics

Besides his work with the Perry House, Perry has also spoken to Congress about helping addicts. He asked for funding for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, pushing the House Appropriations Committee to consider an $86 million budget.

An image of Matthew Perry at the Capitol.
Photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

He cracked a couple of jokes while speaking on the issue but got to the seriousness of the topic when it mattered. Perry said, “I’m here to talk about drug courts because they save money. They save lives. They save prison space. They save families. They save veterans. It is a proven solution.”

Feeling Lonely

Perry wanted to be famous, but he didn’t realize that success came with consequences. When Friends became popular, he found it difficult to keep up with the pressures of stardom. He wanted to do his job well and keep the fans happy.

A portrait of Perry during an event.
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

He quickly realized that it was more challenging than he initially thought. Perry felt very lonely because all eyes were on him to provide laughter, even when he was going through a difficult time. It sent him into a dark hole and made him depressed.

How Much Is Matthew Perry Worth?

As of 2022, Perry’s net worth is approximately $120 million. By the end of Friends, he was making $1 million per episode, and he still makes money for residuals. This might not have happened if it weren’t for the cast’s strong bond.

A photo of Perry attending an event.
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images

For the first couple of seasons, Perry and his castmates had different salaries. However, he and the rest of the cast confronted studio executives to fight for equal pay. They were convincing, and the studio gave Perry and the cast the same salary.

Funny Finger

For all the regular people, it’s always nice to know celebrities have little imperfections too. While some celebrities have weird thumbs or strange teeth, Perry is missing the tip of his middle finger. There are some scenes where it is clear on Friends.

Perry talks to the press.
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

When Perry was a child, his grandfather slammed his finger in a car door, and he lost the tip of his middle finger. While it is usually the longest finger on a person’s hand, Perry’s is a little shorter. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by his imperfection.

Quite the Gambler

While making The Whole Nine Yards with Bruce Willis, Perry got into a debate with the actor. He bet that the film would be number one at the box office on its opening weekend, but Willis disagreed. Perry turned out to be right because the film was number one in February 2000.

A dated picture of Bruce Willis and Perry.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As the loser of the bet, Perry said Willis had to appear on Friends as a guest star. Willis ended up playing the dad of Ross’ girlfriend and Rachel’s love interest. Willis also had to donate his earnings to charity.

Problems With Dating

Although he has been in many relationships and was recently engaged, Perry has had trouble dating. After gaining fame from Friends, he found it difficult to have a normal dating life. Everything he did garnered a lot of media attention, and he couldn’t find privacy.

A photo of Perry sitting in a restaurant.
Source: Instagram /@mattyperry4

Even simple dinner dates were blown out of proportion by tabloids, so Perry couldn’t have a private relationship. He blames fame for not allowing him to meet someone and go through the normal dating process casually. Being famous isn’t always great.

Sweet Revenge

When Perry was in grade school, he was always joking around. His teachers would get annoyed because he wouldn’t pay attention, and one of Perry’s teachers said he wouldn’t amount to anything. However, Perry proved them all wrong when he gained fame and fortune.

A headshot of Perry.
Source: Instagram /@mattyperry4

After being featured on the cover of People magazine for the first time, Perry sent a copy to the teacherwho told him he wouldn’t make anything of himself. Perry proved that joking around didn’t stop him from being successful. That’s what we call revenge.

The Writers’ Room

Perry was the only one out of his six costars to sit with the writers. He always had a natural sense of humor and wit, which the writers loved. Perry helped come up with ideas for the show, and he co-wrote some of the episodes.

A still of a scene from Friends.
Source: Getty Images

He also came up with jokes on set, and the directors kept some of them in the show. He truly embodied Chandler, and the writers loved his suggestions. Perry elevated the show and helped make it funnier than it already was.

The Voice of a Video Game

When the popularity of video games was on the rise, many actors provided voice-over work. Perry jumped on the bandwagon and voiced Benny in Fallout New Vegas in 2010. While most people can’t tell it’s him, it was a fun project for Perry.

Perry takes a picture of himself.
Source: Instagram /@mattyperry4

Perry is used to working in front of a camera or an audience, so providing his voice for the video game was a unique experience. He hasn’t worked on any other video games, but he is open to the opportunity to do it again.

Did Matthew Perry Have a Stroke?

When the Friends reunions aired on HBO in May 2021, fans were concerned about Perry’s behavior. He stammered and slurred his words. Fans were worried that he had relapsed or was having health issues, but he appeared to be physically healthy. People wondered if he had a stroke.

Perry takes a picture at home.
Source: Instagram /@mattyperry4

While he looked a bit disheveled, Perry did not have a stroke as far as anyone knows. He is 51 years old and has aged since people last saw him. His years of using drugs and alcohol didn’t help him stay young, but there is no cause for concern.

He’s a Slave for Courtney

Perry clearly likes making bets with people, but he isn’t always a winner. Courtney Cox made a bet with Perry over which ’80s movie contained the Michael Anthony Hall line, “Chicks cannot hold their smoke. That’s what it is.” Cox thought it was from The Breakfast Club.

Courtney Cox attends an event.
Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Perry thought the line was from Weird Science. Cox said they were calling people to find tapes of the films but couldn’t figure out which movie it was from. They eventually found out Cox was right, and Perry had to wait on her hand and foot for five months.

A Bad Canadian

Growing up in Canada, Perry’s mom was a secretary for the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Perry went to school with Pierre’s son, Justin, and the two got into a scuffle. Perry told Jimmy Kimmel that he once beat up Justin Trudeau when they were in fifth grade.

A still of Perry at Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Source: YouTube

Now that Justin is the Prime Minister, Perry must feel bad about the incident. He isn’t the best example of a Canadian, but we don’t think Justin will come after him for an incident that happened when they were children.

Award Winner

Perry has won many awards for his television appearances. In 1996, he won a SAG award with the cast of Friends. He also won an Editor’s Choice award from TV Guide for his role in Friends. While he has only won a handful of awards, he has been nominated several times.

A dated image of Perry on stage at the Primetime Emmy Awards.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Perry and Cox were nominated for Best TV Wedding, and Friends has been nominated several times for various awards throughout the years. Even the reunion episode was nominated for an Emmy award. However, his accomplishments outweigh his award show wins.