Friends Star Matthew Perry Reflects On Addiction And How Bad Things Got While The Show Was Still Filming

Matthew Perry in Friends
(Image credit: NBC)

There are successful TV comedies, and then there’s Friends. The beloved sitcom ran for a whopping ten seasons and is a phenomenon that's remained part of the pop culture landscape. Actor Matthew Perry played Chandler Bing throughout that run, and he recently opened up in his new book about his addiction issues, and how bad things got while the show was still filming.

Matthew Perry recently wrote a new memoir titled Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, which will get its wide release next month. During a conversation with People, the 53 year-old actor will be truly open and vulnerable with the public about his substance issues. What started with drinking increased to other vices as the success of Friends began, as he shared:

I didn't know how to stop. 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.

The Friends icon is being so transparent about his struggles with addiction in hopes that his book Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing might be helpful for those dealing with similar issues. As he shares in the memoir, at one point he was taking 55 Vicodin a day to simply get by. And this was as he worked on Friends consistently for a decade.

Matthew Perry went down to 128 pounds at one point during this time, which was something that obviously the cast and crew of Friends noticed. For their part, Perry says his co-stars did nothing but support him as best they could. He offered another quote about the intersection of the show and his addiction, saying:

I could handle it, kind of [in my 20s]. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble. 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.’

In the end Matthew Perry admits that he’s been to rehab 15 times over the years, as relapses are often part of the process for those in recovery. He’s also had some serious physical conditions as a result of his years of drug use. Perry revealed he almost died a few years ago at age 49 due to gastrointestinal perforation and a burst colon, which may explain his appearance during the Friends reunion special

While promoting his book Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, the Friends icon spoke to People about his recovery, and why keeping track of his sobriety is an important part of the process. He said,

It's important, but if you lose your sobriety, it doesn't mean you lose all that time and education. Your sober date changes, but that's all that changes. You know everything you knew before, as long as you were able to fight your way back without dying, you learn a lot.

Matthew Perry recently reunited with his Friends co-stars for the reunion special, to the delight of the generations of fans out there. He doesn’t currently have any acting projects lined up, but his book will be released November 1st. In the meantime, check out the fall premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.