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Matthew Perry: Seven of the biggest revelations from star’s book Friends, Lovers and Big Terrible Things

‘Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing’ was released one year before his death

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 31 October 2023 09:26 GMT
Matthew Perry opens up about time Jennifer Aniston confronted him over addictions

Friends star Matthew Perry has died at the age of 54, with many now revisiting the memoir he released almost exactly a year before his death.

The star, adored for his portrayal of king of sarcasm Chandler Bing in Friends, was found dead in his Los Angeles home on Saturday 28 October.

Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing came out on 1 November 2022, and in it, Perry wrote about his famous past relationships and his time on the hit sitcom that made him famous around the world.

However, Perry also explored his widely publicised addiction to alcohol and painkillers, which resulted in him visiting rehab 15 times over his lifetime, and having a number of near-death experiences.

Here are seven of the biggest revelations from Perry’s memoir…

His relationship with Julia Roberts

Perry’s six-month relationship with “beautiful and brilliant” Julia Roberts, who he’d met before her guest appearance on season two of Friends, is explored in the book.

Perry described how the pair would send “hundreds” of faxes and have five-hour phone calls before they began dating.

Matthew Perry and Julia Roberts in ‘Friends’ (Friends)

Reflecting on their split in April 1996, Perry wrote: “Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me. I had been constantly certain that she was going to break up with me.

“So instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts.”

Reflecting on his past relationships, Perry said he’d broken up with all the “wonderful women” he’d dated because he was “deathly afraid that they will find out that I’m not enough… and they’ll break up with me”.

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His drug taking during Friends

Addiction plays a large part in Perry’s memoir, with the actor writing that at his worst moment, he would take 55 strong painkillers a day to get through filming.

Perry wrote that fans of the show will be able to tell whether he was drinking alcohol or taking drugs “from season to season” by “gauging” his weight and tracking his facial hair throughout the show.

“When I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills; when I have a goatee, it’s a lot of pills,” he said.

Perry on ‘Friends’ (Netflix/YouTube)

Perry said that he used to “steal” pills from open houses, saying: “I think they thought, ‘Well, there’s no way that Chandler came in and stole from us.’”

He entered treatment while filming the later seasons of the show and describes being picked up from filming the season seven finale, in which Chandler and Monica (Courteney Cox) get married, to return to rehab.

However, Perry added that he “never” was high or drunk during filming.

Jennifer Aniston confronted him about his addiction

At the height of his addiction, Perry’s Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston was the one to confront him about his problem.

Perry and Aniston in 1998 (Getty Images)

“‘I know you’re drinking,’” Perry recalled Aniston telling him. “To be confronted by Jennifer Aniston was devastating. And I was confused. ‘How can you tell?’ I said. I never worked drunk. ‘I’ve been trying to hide it.’

“‘We can smell it,’ she said, in a kind of weird but loving way, and the plural ‘we’ hit me like a sledgehammer,” Perry wrote.

His bizarre comments about Keanu Reeves

One surprise takeaway from Perry’s autobiography was his apparent feelings towards Keanu Reeves, after Perry repeatedly questioned why other actors die while The Matrix star is still alive.

“Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?” Perry wrote.

Perry has denied that his comments were pointedly about Reeves (Getty Images for Lionsgate)

Upon learning that another former co-star Chris Farley had died of a drug overdose, he wrote: “I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston’s dressing room wall when I found out. Keanu Reeves walks among us.”

However, Perry later apologised for the comments, saying in a statement: “I’m actually a big fan of Keanu. I just chose a random name, my mistake. I apologise. I should have used my own name instead.”

His near-death experiences

Perry’s drug use continued after Friends, with the actor explaining that he “nearly died” four years ago when he was 49.

Perry’s colon burst due to opioid overuse, after which he spent two weeks in a coma, five months in a hospital, and nine months using a colostomy bag. His family were told he had a “two per cent” chance of living.

A couple of years later, Perry came close to death again after his heart stopped beating for five minutes.

Perry was in rehab in Switzerland at the time, but had lied to his doctors about having severe stomach pain in order to get prescribed hydrocodone, an opioid used to treat pain and as a cough suppressant.

Perry in 2017 (Getty Images for Tribeca Film Fe)

Perry was due to have surgery to alleviate his pain, but he took hydrocodone the night before his surgery, which, combined with anaesthetic propofol during the procedure, stopped his heart for five minutes.

“It wasn’t a heart attack – I didn’t flatline – but nothing had been beating,” he said, explaining how eight of his ribs broke during CPR.

As a result, he was forced to pull out of appearing in Adam McKay’s Netflix film Don’t Look Up, despite having already filmed a scene.

His kiss with Valerie Bertinelli

Another one of Perry’s crushes was on former child star Valerie Bertinelli, who played his sister on the 1990s sitcom Sydney.

Perry recalled the pair once having a “long, elaborate make-out session” while her then-husband Eddie Van Halen was passed out less than 10 feet away from them.

However, the next day at work, Bertinelli “made no mention of what had happened and was behaving – as she should have been – like this was just a normal day”, leaving Perry “devastated”.

Bertinelli responded to the claims on TikTok in a Taylor Swift-inspired video in which she admitted she was “mortified”.

His crush on Jennifer Aniston

One unexpected revelation in Perry’s memoir is that he had asked out Aniston before filming Friends.

The actor explained how he and Aniston were the only Friends stars who knew each other before the show, having met three years before through mutual acquaintances.

“I was immediately taken by her (how could I not be?) and liked her, and I got the sense she was intrigued too – maybe it was going to be something,” he said.

Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox in 1996, the year ‘Friends’ began (AFP via Getty Images)

However, when Perry asked her out, “she declined (which made it very difficult to actually go out with her), but said that she’d love to be friends with me, and I compounded the compound by blurting, ‘We can’t be friends!’”

Perry added that he was “still crushing badly” on Aniston during the early stages of filming Friends.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, you can confidentially call the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or visit the NHS website here for information about the programmes available to you.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, you can seek confidential help and support 24-7 from Frank, by calling 0300 123 6600, texting 82111, sending an email or visiting their website here.

In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.

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