“She was the one that reached out the most. You know, I’m really grateful to her for that,” Perry told ABC News’s Diane Sawyer in an October 2022 interview.
He further revealed that Aniston was the first castmate to confront him about his alcoholism while filming the series, which ran from 1994 to 2004.
“Jennifer, she says, ‘We know you’re drinking,’” Sawyer said to Perry.
“Yeah, imagine how scary a moment that was,” the actor replied.
“I should have been the toast of the town, but I was in a dark room meeting with nothing but drug dealers and completely alone,” he said of his struggles with addiction.
Perry, who rose to fame starring as the affable wise-crack Chandler Bing on the long-running NBC sitcom, was found dead in his jacuzzi at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, 28 October.
There were no initial signs of foul play, police sources said. An investigation is ongoing.
In his poignant memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing — in which he chronicled his struggles with addiction along with memories of his career — Perry wrote that he first started drinking when he was 14.
He said that his addiction grew worse under the “white-hot flame of fame” after he starred in Friends. He was drinking heavily during the first two seasons, he wrote, before becoming addicted to the opiate pain medication Vicodin after a jetski accident while filming Fools Rush In with Salma Hayek in 1996.
At his worst moments, he would take 55 strong painkillers a day to get through filming. In his memoir, he disclosed that fans would have been able to tell whether he was drinking or taking drugs depending on his appearance: “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 wrote that he was “never” drunk or high during filming.
Following the tragic news of his death, former colleagues, friends, fans and family members have shared loving memories and tributes.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was a friend of Perry’s at school, called the star’s death “shocking and saddening”. He wrote: “I’ll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved – and you will be missed.”
Sex Education and Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham called Perry “magic” on Instagram, writing: “I can’t stop looking at photos of this beautiful man. I’m so so sad that such a cruel, unyielding disease always tried to define him. It will never define him for me. His untouchable gift for comedy, his total honesty on and off screen and his beautiful, handsome face will.”
Actor Paget Brewster, who played Chandler’s girlfriend Kathy in season four of Friends, wrote on Twitter/X: “He was lovely to me on Friends and every time I saw him in the decades after. Please read his book. It was his legacy to help. He won’t rest in peace though. He’s already too busy making everyone laugh up there.”
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.