During HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion special, the cast of the beloved sitcom got together to reflect on their time on the popular series, reminiscing about tons of fun and hilarious memories. However, Matthew Perry dropped a pretty big bombshell in revealing that throughout his time as Chandler Bing for the NBC series’ 10 seasons, he felt more-extreme-then-normal pressure to get a big rise out of the studio audience with his performances. Following up on her shocked reaction during the special, Jennifer Aniston recently spoke out about her costar’s struggles.
In an interview with TODAY, Jennifer Aniston had some fun dreaming up a Friends quarantine-set episode while looking back at her time on the sitcom, as well as the recent reunion. Aniston brought up some of the surprises that shocked her, including Matthew Perry's angst-ridden admission, which he claimed would cause him to sweat and “go into convulsions” if the live audience didn’t laugh at his jokes. Aniston spoke out about the moment, which surprised her and her costars:
I didn't understand the level of anxiety and self-torture (that) was put on Matthew Perry if he didn't get that laugh, and the devastation that he felt. Which makes a lot of sense.
Lisa Kudrow commented during the reunion that Matthew Perry didn't share those thoughts back when Friends was filming, and Jennifer Aniston was also unaware of the pressure her co-star felt on a constant basis. Being on a highly rated show for 10 seasons in front of a live audience has to create immense stress for the actors, and for some, it’s not as much of a driving inspiration as it is a hindrance. Perry has been open about his struggles with addiction, even previously admitting he couldn’t remember filming some Friends episodes because of it. That said, he is doing better now in that respect, despite his slurred speech in the reunion that caused some fans to worry.
Even though Matthew Perry’s comments were surprising to many, his costars were quick to come to his side and support him. While things may seem positively magical on-screen for the cast members, it's a whole different story off-screen in some cases. Thankfully, it doesn’t look as if Perry's struggles changed his feelings for Friends on the whole, as he’s still remains close with his costars, and still took part in the reunion with a big Chandler-iffic smile. Especially when Maggie Wheeler came out.
The Friends reunion brought in some big surprises with big-named fans and former guest stars beyond the aforementioned Maggie Wheeler, things definitely got emotional. Although not everyone appeared in person, for good reason, it was nice to see the six “friends” together once again for the first time in over a decade. While this kind of highly publicized reunion may not happen again for a while, if ever, it was great to see the cast together once again and looking back on the sitcom that will always be here for us, and we're there for it, too.
Now that Matthew Perry’s comment is out in the open, hopefully other TV actors facing similar issues can come to an understanding that performance pressures can happen at any stage of one's career, even when it involves one of the biggest sitcoms of all time. Whatever the case may be, hopefully Perry is doing better and lands another big show soon.