‘Friends’ Star Matthew Perry Dead at 54

Matthew Perry was best known for playing Chandler Bing on ‘Friends’

Matthew Perry has died. He was 54.

The actor, who was best known for playing Chandler Bing on Friends, was found dead at a Los Angeles-area home on Saturday.

TMZ reported that Perry was found in a jacuzzi at the home, and no drugs were found at the scene.

He was discovered inside a jacuzzi after 911 was made aware of an apparent cardiac arrest.

Warner Bros. issued a statement about the beloved star: “We are devastated by the passing of our dear friend Matthew Perry. Matthew was an incredibly gifted actor and an indelible part of the Warner Bros. Television Group family. The impact of his comedic genius was felt around the world, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of so many. This is a heartbreaking day, and we send our love to his family, his loved ones, and all of his devoted fans.”

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department told PEOPLE that officers responded to a call at Perry’s address regarding the death of a male in his 50s, but would not confirm the deceased’s identity.

TMZ was also told that there was no foul play involved, and their sources said first-responders were called to the residence for cardiac arrest.

Born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on Aug. 19, 1969, Perry was raised on Ottawa, Canada, where 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 an actor and model — the younger Perry even guest-starred in an episode of his dad’s cop show 240-Robert in 1979.

Perry moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. After landing a few TV guest spots, he recurred as Chazz Russell on Boys Will Be Boys from 1987 to 1988. Roles on Growing Pains and Sydney followed, but his big break came in 1994 with NBC’s iconic sitcom Friends.

Perry played sarcastic commitment-phobe Chandler Bing for 10 seasons, landing an Emmy nomination in 2002. Friends was the hottest show of the 90s, with Perry and costars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer ultimately earning a whopping $1 million per episode.

“I was 24 when I got on the show,” he said in the 2004 book Friends … ‘Til the End. “I’ll be 34 when it’s over, and those are really important years in somebody’s life. So to do it all in public … was difficult. At first you have the wave of ‘I’m famous, and this is exactly what I’ve wanted my whole life.’ But then you go through the whole recluse stage where you think, ‘I wish everybody would stop staring at me.’ And then you eventually, hopefully, get through all that. You find things in your life that are grounding, like your family and good friends.”

Despite his success, Perry struggled with addiction behind the scenes, seeking treatment in 1997 and 2001. He told Britain’s BBC Radio 2 in 2016 that he didn’t remember filming seasons 3 through 6 of Friends.

In a 2013 PEOPLE cover story, the actor admitted to abusing alcohol and Vicodin, which a doctor had prescribed him after a 1997 Jet Ski accident.

“I had a big problem with alcohol and pills and I couldn’t stop,” he said. “Eventually things got so bad that I couldn’t hide it, and then everybody knew.”

Then, “something clicked,” and he founded Perry House, a men’s sober living facility, in his old Malibu beach home.

“The interesting reason that I can be so helpful to people now is that I screwed up so often,” he said. “It’s nice for people to see that somebody who once struggled in their life is not struggling any more.”

Back in 2015, he was awarded for his advocacy by the treatment center Phoenix House, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “You can’t have a drug problem for 30 years and then expect to have it be solved in 28 days.”

Ahead of the release of his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing last, the actor told PEOPLE that he credited his Friends castmates with rallying around him amid his addiction, he explained, “They were understanding, and they were patient.”

“It’s like penguins. In nature, when one is sick or very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up and walk around until that penguin can walk on its own. And that’s kind of what the cast did for me,” he added.

The friendships he made with the cast have proven to be life-long, which was evident when they came together for the 2021 HBO Max reunion show. He said, “It’s a group that really is close and tight-knit and loves each other.”

When Friends ended in 2004, Perry struggled to find another small-screen hit: his next starring vehicle, Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip aired on NBC for just 22 episodes from 2006-07.

He co-created Mr. Sunshine in 2011, but ABC canceled the comedy after nine episodes. His NBC comedy Go On ran for one season in 2013. Next, he starred alongside Thomas Lennon on CBS’s The Odd Couple reboot for three seasons from 2015-17.

Perry also performed in the play The End of Longing in London beginning in 2016 in addition to film credits including Fools Rush In, The Whole Nine Yards, Serving Sara and 17 Again.

In his memoir, the actor discussed his health struggles, including a frightening experience in which he was hospitalized for five months after his colon ruptured as a result of using OxyContin.

“The doctors told my family that I had a two-percent chance to live. That’s the time I really came close to my life ending,” Perry told PEOPLE about the terrifying experience.

After the event, Perry revealed that he went into a coma for two weeks, and when he awoke, he had a colostomy bag that he had to use for about a year. The experience led Perry to one of his greatest resolutions — to stop taking prescription opioids.

“My therapist said, ‘The next time you think about taking OxyContin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,’ ” he said. “And a little window opened, and I crawled through it, and I no longer want OxyContin.”

When it comes to gratitude, Perry said he learned that “everything starts with sobriety. Because if you don’t have sobriety, you’re going to lose everything that you put in front of it, so my sobriety is right up there.”

Related Posts