Friends actor Matthew Perry dead at 54

Friends star Matthew Perry, the Emmy-nominated actor whose sarcastic, but lovable Chandler Bing was among television’s most famous and most quotable characters, has died at 54.

The actor, who was raised in Ottawa, was found dead at his Los Angeles home, according to coroner’s records. An investigation into how he died is ongoing, and it may take weeks before his cause of death is determined.

Perry’s body was found in a hot tub at his home, according to unnamed sources cited by the Los Angeles Times and celebrity website TMZ, which was the first to report the news. LAPD Officer Drake Madison told The Associated Press on Saturday that officers had gone to his neighbourhood “for a death investigation of a male in his 50s.”

Friends co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and executive producer Kevin Bright, remembered Perry in a statement released Sunday. 

“We will always cherish the joy, the light, the blinding intelligence he brought to every moment — not just to his work, but in life as well. He was always the funniest person in the room. More than that, he was the sweetest, with a giving and selfless heart,” they said. 

Three people are seen sitting on a couch.
Perry, centre, is seen with Friends costars Jennifer Aniston, left, and Courtney Cox on set. (Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images)

Perry’s 10 seasons on Friends made him one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors, starring opposite Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer as a friend group in New York City.

As Chandler, he played the quick-witted, insecure and neurotic roommate of LeBlanc’s Joey and a close friend of Schwimmer’s Ross. By the series’ end, Chandler is married to Cox’s Monica and they have a family, reflecting the journey of the core cast from single New Yorkers to married and starting families.

“What a loss. The world will miss you Mathew Perry,” Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler’s tumultuous love interest Janice in earlier seasons, posted on Instagram. “The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.”

The series was one of television’s biggest hits and has taken on a new life — finding a surprising popularity with younger fans — in recent years on streaming services.

A person points and leans back to speak with someone sitting next to them.
Perry, left, talks with Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky during an NHL game in Los Angeles in March 2015. (Mark J. Terrill/The Associated Press)

Friends ran from 1994 until 2004, and the cast notably banded together for later seasons to obtain a salary of $1 million US per episode for each.

Unknown at the time was the struggle Perry had with addiction and an intense desire to please audiences.

Friends was huge. I couldn’t jeopardize that. I loved the script. I loved my co-actors. I loved the scripts. I loved everything about the show but I was struggling with my addictions, which only added to my sense of shame,” he wrote in his memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. “I had a secret and no one could know.

“I felt like I was gonna die if the live audience didn’t laugh, and that’s not healthy for sure. But I could sometimes say a line and the audience wouldn’t laugh and I would sweat and sometimes go into convulsions,” Perry wrote. “If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get I would freak out. I felt that every single night. This pressure left me in a bad place. I also knew of the six people making that show, only one of them was sick.”

An HBO Max reunion special in 2021 hosted by James Corden fed into huge interest in seeing the cast together again, although the program consisted of the actors discussing the show and was not a continuation of their characters’ storylines.

Perry received one Emmy nomination for his Friends role and two more for appearances as an associate White House counsel on The West Wing.

Perry also had several notable film roles, starring opposite Salma Hayek in the rom-com Fools Rush In and Bruce Willis in the the crime comedy The Whole Nine Yards.

The actor was mourned on social media by friends, co-stars and some very famous fans, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — a childhood schoolmate — his Friends mom Morgan Fairchild and even singer Adele.

‘Thanks for all the laughs,’ says Trudeau

The Massachusetts-born actor grew up in Ottawa after his mother, a Canadian journalist who once served as press secretary to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, divorced Perry’s father and married Canadian broadcast personality Keith Morrison.

Perry would later claim that he and his friends “beat up” Justin Trudeau during his time in Ottawa.

“I think he was excelling at a sport that we weren’t, so it was pure jealousy. And, you know, we beat him up,” the actor recounted during a 2017 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Trudeau later challenged Perry to a rematch in a 2017 April Fools’ Day tweet, which he declined by joking about the prime minister having an army at his disposal.

“I’ll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them,” Trudeau wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved — and you will be missed.”

WATCH | Matthew Perry discusses his love for hockey in this clip from 2013: 

Matthew Perry interview on After Hours

Featured VideoActor Matthew Perry joins After Hours to discuss his love of hockey.

At the age of 15, Perry moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and improvisational comedy but always remained a big hockey fan. 

“Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend,” Perry’s family told People magazine on Sunday in a statement.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother,” the family added. They thanked his fans by saying, “You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love.”

Open with struggles with sobriety

Adele took a moment to talk about him during her show in Las Vegas on Saturday night. She recalled how his work made her laugh and said that even though she’d never met him, there is a strange thing that happens sometimes when an entertainer dies that makes you feel personally sad.

“He was so open with his struggles with addiction and sobriety, which I think is incredibly, incredibly brave,” Adele told people in the audience.

In a tribute on X, Fairchild wrote that she is “heartbroken about the untimely death of my ‘son’ Matthew Perry.”

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