There for him. Matthew Perry openly battled addiction and other health issues while starring on Friends. His costars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer were by his side every step of the way, showing their support both in public and in private.
The six actors appeared on the NBC sitcom for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004. Amid his growing popularity while portraying beloved funnyman Chandler Bing, Perry entered rehab twice. In 1997, he sought treatment for an addiction to Vicodin after a jet ski accident. He also suffered from alcohol abuse and was hospitalized in 2000 for pancreatitis. He completed another stint in rehab in 2001.
Friends cocreator Marta Kauffman told The New York Times in a 2002 profile that it was “heartbreaking and terrifying” to watch Perry battle his addictions. “I remember going up to him the first episode of the last season and saying, ‘I’m so happy you’re back,’” she recalled. “I hadn’t realized how much he hadn’t been there.”
Kauffman later detailed the system that tried to help the 17 Again star behind the scenes. “We were certainly aware of some of it and we certainly had some conversations about it,” she told Us Weekly and other reporters in January 2020. “[We were] protective and, hopefully, supportive.”
After getting clean, Perry focused on sharing his story. “I didn’t get sober because I felt like it,” he told The New York Times in 2002. “I got sober because I was worried I was going to die the next day.”
The Odd Couple alum also revealed that he leaned into the role of Chandler since he identified with him. “It’s no accident that Chandler is a guy who is trying to deter his own human emotional feelings with laughter. That’s what I did for years,” he said. “I’ve tried to palm myself off as being a jokester, kind of like hanging out with me is kind of like a vacation. But that could only take me so far.”
Perry reunited with the cast for a special that premiered on HBO Max in May 2021. After fans expressed concern about his health, executive producer Kevin Bright came to his defense.
“I talked to him. It was great seeing him again,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “And what people say is what people say. I don’t have any to say about that, except it was great to see him. And I think he’s very funny on the show. But yes, I think he’s OK. He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward.”
Scroll through the gallery below to revisit everything the Friends cast has said about Perry’s struggles through the years.