Matthew Perry didn't want to be remembered for Friends

The late Friends star expressed his desire to be remembered as someone who wanted to help people.

Actor Matthew Perry attending a red carpet event. (AP)
Matthew Perry wanted Friends listed far behind the things he did to try to help other people. (AP)

"When I die, I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that’s mentioned. I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned. And I’m gonna live the rest of my life proving that," said the late Matthew Perry.

The US-Canadian star, famous for his playing Chandler Bing in the popular 90s sitcom Friends died aged 54 on 28 October. He was found unconscious in a hot tub and couldn't be revived by first responders.

Perry played the sarcastic but lovable Chandler for a decade Friends, which launched Perry and his co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer onto the A-list.

In a Q With Tom Power podcast in 2022, Perry expressed his desire to be remembered as someone who lived well, loved well, sought meaning, and most importantly, wanted to help people.

David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani. (Photo by Warner Bros. Television)
The 90s sitcom, Friends, launched Matt Le Blanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry and Courtney Cox Arquette onto the A-list. ((Photo: Warner Bros)

Perry, despite his sitcom success, had a tough battle with addiction to painkillers and alcohol, which he shared in his memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.

His alcohol addiction was just starting to surface when he was first cast in Friends aged 24. "I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble," he admitted in an interview with People.

The actor was at one stage of his career taking 55 Vicodin pills a day and had 14 stomach operations because of it.

“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead,” he wrote in the opening of his 2022 memoir.

17 Again Year: 2009 Director: Burr Steers Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry also took on film roles including starring in 17 Again as a 37-year-old who becomes his 17-year-old self. (PA)

Perry was open about his struggles with alcohol and drugs. He faced addiction issues after a jet ski accident in 1997, went to rehab in 2001, and later converted his Malibu home into a sober living place, the Perry House.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer in October 2022, he mentioned that Jennifer Aniston who stayed in touch with him throughout his struggles with addiction and recovery.

"She was the one that reached out the most. You know, I'm really thankful for her support," he said of her.

It would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people.Matthew Perry, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, 2022

By 2021, he proudly declared he was sober, having spent around $9m on his recovery journey.

He expressed that beyond his Friends fame, helping people was the most crucial thing for him. Perry acknowledged his worldwide recognition as Chandler Bing on the show that span a decade, but In his podcast chat with Tom Power, Perry shared why he couldn't bear to watch it.

“I didn’t watch the show, and haven’t watched the show, because I could go drinking … opiates … drinking … cocaine,” the actor said because he could tell season by season by how he looked.

Perry used his writing and acting skills to change the narrative around people with addiction problems.

“My name is Jack,” said of his character in his debut 2016 West End show The End of Longing that he wrote, echoing his own experiences. “And I’m an alcoholic.”

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Bernard Telsey, Blake West, Lindsay Posner, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Sue Jean Kim, Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Perry, Robert LuPone and William Cantler attend The End Of Longing
Matthew Perry wrote his debut 2016 West End show The End of Longing that he wrote, which critics said mirrors his own addiction experiences. (Getty Images)

Described by critics as “heartfelt, solidly acted look at fear and addiction”, the play centred around four people in their 40s with Perry playing the drunk Jack.

Writing in his memoir last year, Perry said: “When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends. And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor, as well as given people multiple chances to make fun of my struggles on the world wide web.”

“But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people,” he wrote.

“I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.”

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