The one where we lost a friend

By Felicia Roehm

Oct. 28, the world received heartbreaking news that the beloved actor Matthew Perry passed away at only 54 years old. His cause of death was not disclosed after being found unconscious in his hot tub by his assistant. 

Perry was best known for playing Chandler Bing in the show “Friends,” which is a comfort for many, including myself. Chandler was my favorite character because of his sarcastic sense of humor and kind heart. Although Perry will always be remembered for playing Chandler Bing, he had quite the career. 

Perry was born on Aug. 19, 1969, in Williamstown, Massachusetts. His parents divorced when he was an infant, and he lived in Ottawa, Canada, with his mother Suzanne Langford, former press secretary for the prime minister. He was a talented tennis player, and was nationally ranked at 13 years old, but moved to Los Angeles to live with his father, actor John Bennet Perry, when he was 15.

He discovered his love for acting and landed his first role in 1987 in the sitcom “Second Chance,” which was about a man who died and had the opportunity to go back and mentor a younger version of himself. Perry played the younger version of the main character; however, the show was later changed to be just about the adventures of the teenager and was renamed to “Boys Will Be Boys.” 

Unfortunately, after the change, the show wasn’t very popular and didn’t last long. In 1988, Perry got his first movie role as a supporting actor in “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon,” starring River Phoenix, but the film never got much attention. After many failed attempts at becoming an actor, Perry finally landed “Friends,” which premiered in 1994. “Friends” had 62 Emmy award nominations, and Perry was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2002. After a decade, the show ended in 2004, but Perry was in a few movies while the show was running. 

He starred in “Fools Rush In” in 1997, “Almost Heroes” in 1998 and “Three to Tango” in 1999. These movies never got much attraction, but in 2000 he was in “The Whole Nine Yards” with Bruce Willis, which earned $57 million, and led to a 2004 sequel called, “The Whole Ten Yards.” Perry then starred in the 2006 movie, “The Ron Clark Story,” which is about a teacher from the south moving to New York City to teach disadvantaged students. The movie earned him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. In 2007 and 2008, he was in two independent films: “Numb” and “Birds of America.” 

In 2009, he was in the movie “17 Again,” which co-starred Zac Efron. After that, Perry continued to guest star in different TV series and attempted to be in a few other sitcoms.

In 2002, Perry opened up about his struggles with addiction as he told the New York Times, “I was a guy who wanted to become famous, there was steam coming out of my ears, I wanted to be famous so badly. You want the attention, you want the bucks, and you want the best seat in the restaurant. I didn’t think what the repercussions would be.” 

Perry released his memoir in 2022 titled, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” and in his book he admitted that he spent more than $7 million and went to rehab 15 times in an attempt to get sober. Throughout his life, he advocated to help those with addiction and turned his old home in Malibu, California, into a sober men’s living facility, entitled the Perry House. 

He explained in an interview in 2022 with Tom Power, host for “Q” on CBC Radio, that he doesn’t want to be remembered as the actor from “Friends,” but instead as someone who helped people. 

“The best thing about me, bar none, is if somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking, can you help me?’ I can say yes and follow up and do it,” Perry said. “ I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned, and I’m going to live the rest of my life proving that. 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.”

I really enjoyed watching Perry, and although it is still difficult to believe that he has passed, he will be remembered and missed by many. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to watch “Friends” the same knowing he is no longer alive, but his comical jokes and his determination to help others will live on. He is still my comfort character and I hope everyone will remember him as the kind and hilarious person he was because I know I will.

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