Life after Chandler: Matthew Perry post-FriendsWatch it now
Matthew Perry’s life after Friends hasn’t been all roses but he’s made it through some dark times to find success.
Ladies and gentlemen, can we have an OMG? (And all the tissues!) It’s Friends: The Reunion! Also known as The One Where They Get Back Together, the almost two-hour TV special just started streaming on Showmax.
Now in their 50s, Courteney Cox (Monica), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler), and David Schwimmer (Ross) bring us all the feels as they return to the iconic comedy’s original soundstage for a real-life unscripted celebration of the beloved show, including a line-up of guest stars and celebrities from host James Corden to Reese Witherspoon, David Beckham to Justin Bieber.
Friends has an 8.4/10 score on IMDb where, surprise!, it’s at #2 on the Most Popular TV list, and still at #53, IMDb Top Rated TV of all time, 17 years after the finale aired in 2004. The series won 77 awards over the course of its 10-season run, including six Emmys.
A happy ending for Chandler
In the final episode of Friends, Chandler and Monica moved out of their apartment to raise their adoptive twins in the country. Chandler got his Monica. Monica got her Chandler. We got our closure. All was right with the world.
But where would Friends’ perfect couple be today? On The Reunion, Courteney Cox is ready to vouch for Monica still being, well, Monica… “Her kids are probably graduated, but she’s still in charge of the bake sale at an elementary school. She’s just gotta keep things going. [She’s in the] PTA.” But then she melts our hearts, turning to Matthew to add, “…And you are making me laugh every day.”
In an interview with People Magazine, Matthew said Chandler “would be a wonderful father… and a wonderful comedy writer.” Still, the “statistical analysis and data reconfiguration” served him well.
But then, Chandler did have a way of making it all look easy. Matthew once told Entertainment Weekly, “The part of Chandler leapt off the page, shook my hand and said, ‘This is you, man!’”
The actor’s own journey has been much harder. On The Reunion, Matthew reveals that he felt a lot of pressure from the live studio audience during filming. “I felt like I was gonna die if they didn’t laugh. It’s not healthy for sure, but I would sometimes say a line and they wouldn’t laugh, and I would sweat and go into convulsions… If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out. I felt like that every single night.”
His confession has met with an outpouring of love from fans on social media. “Matthew Perry sharing his anxiety over getting the laughs is incredibly brave and totally heartbreaking,” Teresa @alfacinhastory tweeted. “He was always the best, funniest, most loveable of the Friends – and is clearly the most precious human. Hope he knows how loved he is through[out] the world.”
A dark place
Matthew’s struggle with addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs was no secret, even during the Friends years. At one point, his weight dropped to 66kgs, and he has admitted that he doesn’t remember filming most of Seasons 3 through 6 of Friends.
“I was on Friends from age 24 to 34,” he said in an interview with People Magazine. “I was in the white-hot flame of fame… From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism.”
“I was never high at work,” he explained, “I was painfully, painfully hung over. Then eventually things got so bad I couldn’t hide it, and then everybody knew.”
His friends and co-stars tried to support him, but were left feeling helpless. “Hard doesn’t even begin to describe it,” Lisa Kudrow told New York Times. “When Matthew was sick, it was not fun. We were just hopelessly standing on the sidelines. We were hurting a lot.”
Like Chandler, Matthew’s sense of humour was built for tough times. On The Reunion, Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice, Chandler’s sometime-girlfriend on Friends, revealed that her character’s signature laugh was “born in the moment” when she had to face Matthew on set. “’Matthew Perry is so funny, and the minute I set eyes on him and he opened his mouth, I thought, ‘Oh God, I’m gonna lose it, I’m gonna crack up. This character needs a laugh because I’m not gonna be able to get through a single scene with this guy.’”
Matthew has used his own painful journey to help others. As a celebrity spokesperson for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, he has lobbied Congress in support of funding for drug courts that allow offenders to seek treatment rather than do jail time, and been recognised by the White House for establishing Perry House, a sober living home and halfway house for recovering addicts, at his former mansion in Malibu, California.
From comedy to drama
Despite the challenges, and several stints in rehab, Matthew has continued acting over the years, and has also written and produced.
His career has included several mini-reunions with his former co-stars. Courteney Cox made an appearance on Matthew’s 2013 show, Go On, about an irreverent sportscaster who joins a grief support group after the death of his wife. Matthew in turn guested on Courteney’s sitcom, Cougar Town, in 2014, and also played a compulsively lying lawyer on Lisa Kudrow’s series, Web Therapy, in 2015.
In addition to an Emmy nomination for his performance as Chandler, Matthew received two nominations for his role as Joe Quincy on The West Wing, and a nomination for his starring role as a Harlem elementary school teacher in the 2006 biopic The Ron Clark Story, which also earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Matthew also made several guest appearances as attorney Mike Kresteva on the multi-Emmy-winning drama series The Good Wife, reprising the role in 2017 on the spin-off series, The Good Fight.
Matthew co-created the 2011 comedy series Mr. Sunshine, where he starred as the manager of a second rate sports arena opposite the likes of Allison Janney, and The Odd Couple, where he starred as Oscar, the slovenly housemate to Thomas Lennon’s obsessively neat Felix. The two had previously worked together on the 2009 comedy movie 17 Again, where Matthew played the adult version of Zac Efron’s character, Mike.
Recently, Matthew played Ted Kennedy in the miniseries The Kennedys: Decline and Fall, and we’ll get to see him later this year in the upcoming movie Don’t Look Up, a black comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Matthew’s love life has seen its ups and downs too. There was a moment, back in the mid-90s, where Matthew’s private life might have overshadowed the paparazzi frenzy that would soon surround Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. Following Julia Roberts’ guest appearance as Susie Underpants in Season 2 of Friends, (which Matthew famously convinced her to do by meeting Julia’s challenge to him to write her a paper on quantum physics), Matthew dated the Pretty Woman star until 1996.
Several short-lived relationships followed, but it was Mean Girls and Masters of Sex actress Lizzy Caplan that captured, and held, Matthew’s heart for six years up until their split in 2012. In 2018, Matthew met talent manager Molly Hurwitz, and the couple got engaged last year.
In the meantime, Matthew has also released a line of merchandise. Helping to raise funds for a good cause, the star posted a pic of himself on Twitter late last year, wearing a limited edition t-shirt (and using a banana as a phone) inscribed with Chandler’s iconic phrase, “Could I BE more me?”
“What is this, a limited edition t-shirt for charity?” the star tweeted. “For two weeks only, I’m releasing an apparel collection! Proceeds will support the World Health Organization’s COVID 19 relief efforts. Banana not included.”
As it happens, the apparel collection didn’t want to be a two-weeks-only kind of thing. He’s since released a “Could I BE Any More Vaccinated?” t-shirt, and brought out a classic Friends range ahead of The Reunion’s US release on 27 May – with David Beckham dibsing one for himself almost immediately with the Tweet, “I need one @mattyperry4 😍”.
Now that you’re primed to indulge in the love fest that is Friends: The Reunion, may we recommend our favourite melt moment in the show, when Matthew turns to Matt LeBlanc and says, “Aw, Matty, it’s good to see you, buddy,” – cue all the love. After all, as Friends co-creators Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane once said, Friends was “about that time in your life when your friends are your family.”
One caveat though – if you’re one of those fans (totally not like us) who wished, even for a moment, that Matthew and Courteney would turn out to be a real-life couple, you might want to reconsider that wish… It turns out Matthew and Courteney are (distantly) related. Genealogists from the website MyHeritage told CNN the stars share a common pair of ancestors, dating back around 500 years in England, making them 11th cousins. Which, honestly, just cements our view that the Friends are the royal family of sitcoms.
Much as we would love to hear Ross announce on Friends: The Reunion, “We were [just] on a break!”, the series’ creators have repeatedly denied rumours of a Friends reboot, so the special is as close as we’re getting to a comeback.
Not that the actors, or the studio, will suffer financially if the show is never rebooted. Warner Bros reportedly still earns around $1bn a year from syndication of the evergreen show, according to USA Today. Even with the six main cast members earning just two percent of that, their annual income from reruns reportedly comes to $20m each…