Matthew Perry tells Diane Sawyer he would go to open houses to steal pills: 'I think they thought, oh, there's no way that Chandler stole from us'

Matthew Perry opens up about his struggles with addiction. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Matthew Perry opens up about his struggles with addiction. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Matthew Perry is sharing more details about his past and battle with addiction during an exclusive tell-all with Diane Sawyer.

The Friends star joined the ABC News anchor for a highly teased one-hour special, where he talked about his time on the hit series, his struggles with substance use and his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, which is out Nov. 1.

While the star admitted to Sawyer that "it’s not fun to talk about this stuff," he said he was speaking out now because he knows it's "going to help people."

During the interview, Perry discussed his first experience with drinking and how it made him feel.

"I laid in the grass and was in heaven," he told Sawyer. "I thought to myself, this must be the way that normal people feel all the time."

He said that by the time he was 18, he was drinking "every day." As he got older and started booking roles in Hollywood, the 17 Again star had one guideline when it came to his alcohol use.

"I made a rule that I would never drink or take anything at work," he said. "So I would do that, but I would show up blindly hungover. Like shaking and crazy hungover."

The actor detailed how he began abusing opioids after he was prescribed painkillers in 1997. Eventually, he said he was taking as many as 55 pills per day, and going to great lengths to receive the medication from doctors, including having MRIs done for "fake migraines."

He also shared that he would "go to open houses" in hopes of finding the pills in the bathroom to "steal them."

"I think they thought 'Oh, there's no way that Chandler stole from us,'" Perry admitted.

When the conversation turned to his time on the series Friends, Perry shared warm memories of his co-stars, who he appeared with in the 2021 HBO Max reunion special. The actor called Friends co-star Lisa Kudrow "maybe the funniest person I’ve ever worked with," and noted that Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer were "hilarious." He also shared that Schwimmer, who was the break out star during the first season of the NBC sitcom, encouraged the cast to join together to negotiate their contracts as a unit.

Perry also recalled at time when Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston confronted him about his substance use disorder.

"She was the one who reached out the most, you know," Perry said. "I'm really grateful to her for that."

Other revelations from the hour-long interview include The Odd Couple star admitting to having tried dating apps.

"I did go and then I rapidly stopped, it was stupid," he said of trying to date online.

Perry, who has dated stars like Julia Roberts and Lizzy Caplan, explained how he was previously stuck in a bad pattern with relationships.

"It was a combination of feeling like I wasn’t enough, feeling like I was needy, feeling like I didn’t matter so I’d be in relationships that were going great — with wonderful women, funny, smart, wonderful — and my subconscious, I’d get scared and break up with them because I was afraid they’d find out those three things and they would annihilate me," he told Sawyer.

Perry recently made headlines talking about his near-death experience in 2018. He spoke to People magazine about how he was given a "2% chance to live" just four years ago when was on life support.

Perry, then 49, spent months in the hospital recovering from surgery from what his publicist said was a gastrointestinal perforation. However, in his new memoir, the actor details how he was actually in the fight of his life after his colon burst from opioid use. He was in a coma for two weeks and on life support. In total, he spent five months in the hospital recovering and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.

"The doctors told my family that I had a 2% chance to live," Perry told the outlet. "I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that's called a Hail Mary. No one survives that."

Among the disclosures from Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry estimates he has spent $9 million to get sober. He currently has 18 months of sobriety, meaning he got sober again just prior to the 2021 Friends reunion.

"I would fake back injuries. I would fake migraine headaches. I had eight doctors going at the same time," Perry told the New York Times of his doctor-shopping at the height of his struggles.

Perry, who also used OxyContin and Xanax, said, "I would wake up and have to get 55 Vicodin that day, and figure out how to do it. When you're a drug addict, it's all math. I go to this place, and I need to take three. And then I go to this place, and I’m going to take five because I'm going to be there longer. It's exhausting but you have to do it or you get very, very sick. I wasn't doing it to feel high or to feel good. I certainly wasn't a partier; I just wanted to sit on my couch, take five Vicodin and watch a movie. That was heaven for me. It no longer is."

Perry told Sawyer that his current dream day involves "playing games… watching movies…I want to work out. I want to play pickle ball. I play it almost every day. That’s why this tan is real."

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