Remembering the life of 'Friends' actor Matthew Perry, who died at age 54 on Oct. 28
Matthew Perry started acting at 10 years old — but to many fans, he'll always be Chandler Bing.
In November of 2022, the star released a memoir entitled Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, looking back on his lengthy career in TV and movies as well as the ups and downs of his life.
"I'm an extremely grateful guy. I'm grateful to be alive, that's for sure," he told PEOPLE. "And that gives me the possibility to do anything."
Here, as friends and fans mourn the actor, look back on his life, and movie and TV roles, in photos.
Matthew Perry's Early Life
Matthew Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on Aug. 19, 1969, though was raised in Ottawa, Canada (he attended elementary school with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau).
His mother, Suzanne Morrison, was a journalist and press secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father.
Perry’s stepfather is Dateline‘s Keith Morrison. His father, John Bennett Perry, was once an actor and model — the younger Perry even guest-starred in an episode of his dad’s cop show, 240-Robert, in 1979.
Matthew Perry's TV Roles
Perry's early television work included bit parts on favorites like Charles in Charge and Silver Spoons before he landed a role on Boys Will Be Boys and later, Sydney, alongside Valerie Bertinelli.
In his memoir, Perry wrote that he "fell madly in love" with Bertinelli when they played siblings in the short-lived 1990 CBS sitcom, claiming that she was "clearly in a troubled marriage" with rocker Eddie Van Halen at the time. He revealed that he had "elaborate fantasies" about her leaving the rock star and them running away together before he finally made a move.
He went on to have a string of high-profile relationships, getting engaged in 2020 to literary manager Molly Hurwitz. The two split in the summer of 2021.
Matthew Perry on 'Friends'
In 1994, Perry landed the role of Chandler Bing on Friends, earning an Emmy nod for his work in 2002.
“It was as if someone had followed me around for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, photocopying my world-weary yet witty view of life," he wrote in his 2022 memoir, according to Deadline. “It wasn’t that I thought I could play 'Chandler'; I was Chandler.”
As with his costars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer, the show became a large part of his legacy. The cast reunited in 2021 on an HBO Max special, though spent quality time together off-screen through the years, often popping up at each other's premieres and birthday dinners.
Matthew Perry's Movie Roles
Later in the '90s, Perry started to make his mark on the big screen. perhaps most notably in 2000's The Whole Nine Yards and 2004's The Whole Ten Yards opposite Bruce Willis.
"Bruce hadn't been sure the film would work at all, and I'd bet him it would — if he lost, he had to do a guest spot on Friends," Perry wrote of the first movie in his memoir, adding, "(he's in three episodes of season six)."
Matthew Perry's Additional Movie Roles
In 2002, Perry joined Elizabeth Hurley in Serving Sara.
"He's a very funny writer like he's a very funny man. He's an incredibly gifted comedian ... his way with words is fantastic," Hurley told Yahoo Entertainment in 2022.
Other highlights included 1997's Fools Rush In, 1999's Three to Tango and 2009's 17 Again, opposite Zac Efron.
Matthew Perry in 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip'
Perry's buzziest TV project following Friends was the NBC drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
"Studio 60 taught me that even if a show has this insane amount of power behind it, you never know what's going to happen," Perry told USA Today of the Aaron Sorkin-backed project, which aired briefly from 2006 to 2007. "I was really proud of being part of that, because that pilot was just as good as anything I've seen on television. I can't believe I was in it."
Matthew Perry on 'The Good Fight'
He kept busy on TV though, appearing on The West Wing for a spell between Friends and Studio 60, and moving along to Mr. Sunshine, Go On and The Odd Couple, in addition to three episodes of The Good Fight in 2017. His most recent work was the 2017 mini-series The Kennedys After Camelot.
Throughout his career, he earned five Emmy nominations, one Golden Globe Award nomination and seven Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, plus one win for Friends.
Matthew Perry's Memoir
In 2022, Perry opened up about everything from work and relationships to addiction in his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.
"I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again," he told PEOPLE. "I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people."
Matthew Perry's Addiction Struggles
When Perry was first cast on Friends at age 24, his alcohol addiction was just starting to surface.
"I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble," he told PEOPLE. "But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, 'That should tell me something.' "
At one point during his Friends fame, Perry was taking 55 Vicodin a day and was down to 128 lbs. "I didn't know how to stop," he said. "If the police came over to my house and said, 'If you drink tonight, we're going to take you to jail,' I'd start packing. I couldn't stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older." He said he checked in to rehab 15 times.
His castmates "were understanding, and they were patient," he added. "I'm pretty healthy now."
Matthew Perry Dies
On Oct. 28, 2023, TMZ broke the news that Perry had died at the age of 54 after reportedly drowning at home in a jacuzzi.
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