I have taken my time before putting my thoughts down following the tragic death of Matthew Perry. It is hard even now, as he meant so much to so many for many reasons. First and foremost for his commitment to helping those with addictions. The characteristic he wanted most to be remembered for.
It is what one does quietly behind the scenes that usually means the most. Helping people, even when helping oneself, is such a challenge and ultimately a sacrifice. A beautiful sacrifice. The epicentre of altruism.
Here Hank Azuria, Matthew’s friend and Friends Co star, explains how Matthew was there for him in his battle with alcoholism.
In a heartfelt Instagram video, Mr. Azaria recounted his memories, saying, “The night I entered Alcoholics Anonymous, it was Matthew who brought me in. Throughout my entire first year of sobriety, we attended meetings together. I had the opportunity to tell him how, as a sober individual, he was incredibly caring, generous, and wise. He played a significant role in my journey to sobriety, and I truly wish he could have maintained his own sobriety more consistently.”
As the video continued, Mr. Azaria reminisced about his initial encounter with Matthew Perry. He revealed that they both worked as actors on the pilot for “Morning Maggie.” “Matthew was the first friend I made in Los Angeles. When I moved there at the age of 21, he was just 16,” Mr. Azaria shared.
He added, “Matthew and I developed a strong bond and were more like brothers for a significant period. We shared a lot of drinks, a lot of laughter and were there for each other during the early stages of our careers.”
Mr. Azaria also acknowledged that Matthew Perry’s humor extended beyond his character on ‘Friends’ and into real life. In the video, he touched upon the actor’s prolonged struggle with substance abuse.
“I deeply cared for him. Many of us who were close to him felt that we had lost him to drugs and alcohol a long time ago, as he documented in his autobiography. There was so much suffering,” Mr. Azaria expressed.
He continued, “It’s truly heartbreaking for those of us who loved and knew him intimately. We simply missed him. It’s one of the devastating aspects of this disease – it robs you of the person you hold dear.”
Concluding his tribute, Mr. Azaria remarked, “As an actor, he was incredibly brilliant. I wish, not just for myself but for the world, that we could have witnessed the remainder of his remarkable career.”
Matt himself tells how alcoholism strangles the lives of people and makes an appeal to those who have this terrible disease.
And for those who deny it is a disease, Matthew has a word for you too:
The other reason Matthew will be missed is because he was part of an ensemble of actors that, for ten years, took us on a journey with them from their early twenties into their early thirties. Along with Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc and David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry played a character, Chandler Bing, that revolved around a group of six friends, Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe, living in New York City. It followed their personal and professional lives, relationships, and comedic adventures. The series resonated with so many because it explored themes of friendship, love and the ups and downs of adult life, often with humour and relatable situations.
The first scenes from Friends Season 1 episode 1:
We laughed and cried with them because they explored many experiences that we can similarly recount at a certain age. The sarcastic friend. The one who thought they were cleverer. The good looking ones. The kooky one. We can all remember them from some point in our lives. From the outside, many had their favourite Friend. For many, that was fluid as time passed. Whether Matthew as Chandler Bing was the favourite however, is not particularly relevant. As the character who was sarcastic and funny it revealed a vulnerability that many have. From a complicated, broken home, Chandler used humour to cover for his vulnerabilities. Like in real life he chose to make other people laugh to distract from his deep pain and addictiveness. Also, it often distracts people from their own trauma and insecurities. Chandler and all of his Friends played their own different parts in drawing upon many of our life experiences in what is fashionably named entertainment. For those who watched it from 1994 to 2004 or have watched the ten series since, they know exactly where I am coming from. For those who haven’t, perhaps give it a go and find out for yourselves.
The final scene from Friends
Matthew Perry left this mortal coil sat in his hot tub at his home in Los Angeles. The actual circumstances are still unclear but this final image taken a week before his death is as poignant as they come. He was happy and relaxed. The chances are he went out that way. For Matthew, his family, his friends and for all those who were helped or entertained by him, I really hope so.
Rest in love, Matthew Perry.
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