For much of the 90s and early 2000s, Matthew Perry held sway as one of the most famous faces on American TV. His portrayal of the handsome, naively-charming, and sarcastic Chandler Bing on the hit sitcom, Friends (1994 to 2004), made him a household name. He further cemented it by appearing in movies such as 17 Again, Fools Rush In, and The Whole Nine Yards. All these projects fetched Perry several accolades as well as the admiration of many fans around the globe.
What this legion of teeming fans, however, did not know was that their idol was struggling with serious substance addiction issues. These issues would eventually blow out into the open and Perry had to seek help for it. We would like to tell you that he immediately conquered and got back to his feet but that is not the case. Staying sober has been a continuous journey but the Friends star is determined to never give up.
How Matthew Perry Nearly Missed Out on His Most Iconic Role till Date
Matthew Perry started his acting career during his university days when he landed a role in the 1987 sitcom, Second Chance. Following this, he was given many guest roles in several TV series. He then got a regular role in the 1990 CBS sitcom, Sydney. The following year, he guest-starred as Roger Azarian in Beverly Hills 90210, and in 1993, he bagged a role in the ABC sitcom, Home Free.
That same year, Perry got wind of two proposed shows tentatively titled LAX 2194 and Six of One. He auditioned for the former and was hired to appear in the pilot. This pilot took a lot of his time and as such, he was not allowed to audition for Six of One. The producers, however, relented and allowed him to do it. He went on to impress them so much so that they knew they had found the perfect version of Chandler Bing that they were looking for.
Six of One, which later came to be known as Friends, debuted in 1994 and Perry was part of the main cast – a group of six friends in their 20s and 30s living in Manhattan. His character suffered emotional scarring as a result of his parents’ divorce when he was nine. This left him emotionally defensive and he covers it up by being overly sarcastic. He also avoids serious emotional entanglements but later ends up getting married during the twilight of the show.
Friends ran for ten seasons during which it became one of the most-watched shows in America. It attracted about 30 million viewers weekly and was named the most outstanding comedy series at the 2002 Primetime Emmy Awards. Such strides propelled the show’s relatively unknown cast, including Matthew Perry, to stardom. He himself also earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and was featured on the cover of People Magazine in 2002.
His Salary of $1 Million Per Episode of Friends Helped Him Build His Fortune
Fame wasn’t just the only thing that Matthew Perry got from his iconic run on Friends. The show also rewarded him quite well for his troubles. For the first season in 1994, he and his co-stars received about $22,500 per episode (each season was at least 20 episodes). This amount then increased to $75,000, $125,000 and $750,000 per episode for seasons 3, 6 and 7 respectively. His salary reached the $1 million mark in 2002 and by the series finale in 2004, it was $1.3 million. This made him and his co-stars the highest-paid TV actors in America at that time.
Going by all the whole figures above, Perry made between $80 million and $100 million during his time on Friends. This has contributed to his net worth alongside the other projects he has taken on. While filming Friends, the Canadian-American also starred in some prominent movies such as Fools Rush In (1997) and The Whole Nine Yards (2000). In 2003, he featured in David Mamet’s play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, which was performed at the West End theatre in London, England.
Perry later starred as the lead in the 2007 drama film, Numb, and also played the older Mike O’Donnell in the 2009 film, 17 Again. Other notable movies and TV series he has starred in include Getting In (1994), Three To Tango (1999), The Odd Couple (2015), and The Kennedys: After Camelot (2017).
In 2011, Matthew Perry was a co-creator/co-writer, executive producer, and cast member of Mr. Sunshine, an ABC television sitcom. He also co-developed The Odd Couple which he starred in. All these projects may not have been as financially rewarding as Friends but it still paid Perry well enough as he now has an estimated net worth of $80 million.
Matthew Perry’s Struggles with Addiction
Substance abuse is usually the bane of many celebrities and one person that has also been caught in its web is Matthew Perry. Back in 1997, the actor was involved in a ski accident. The accident left him in a lot of pain and he took to painkiller medications to control it. Along the line, he developed an ugly addiction to the drugs and before anyone knew what was happening, he was popping about 20-30 tablets of Vicodin a day.
Perry became pretty much hooked and lost significant weight. He then checked himself into a rehab facility in Minnesota. This rehab stint lasted for 28 days and the actor came out thinking that he had conquered it all but was totally wrong. He got back to using the drugs as well as drinking alcohol which meant that he was zoned out through the next three seasons of Friends, from 1998 to 2000. The consequences of his action later caught up with him when he suffered pancreatitis, a condition caused by heavy alcohol use.
The Efforts He Has Made to Stay Sober and His Advocacy for Addicts
The pancreatitis Matthew Perry suffered was quite a scare and it caused him to spend a fortnight in hospital. This was, however, not enough to deter him from abuse and upon release, he continued drinking heavy amounts of vodka as well as popping pills.
Perry was always high wherever he was but luckily for him, he had a moment of clarity in which he knew that he had to get help or risk devastating consequences. The actor reached out to his parents in the year 2001 and they committed to helping him. He has since that time been sober except for one relapse in 2011. He, however, got back to his feet and has continued working on his sobriety.
The actor has now become an advocate for addicts, even setting up a sober house. He has also lobbied for the government to grant more funding to drug courts, which help addicted offenders recover rather than just condemning them.
Matthew Perry has emerged from the throes of addiction but the whole thing has left an impact on him. He has experienced significant weight gain; thus radically changing from the cute slim Chandler of yesteryears. Such radical transformation has stunned fans and always leads to a flood of disbelief when he is snapped by the paparazzi. There is, however, no need for fans to be so surprised. Asides from drugs, the actor is simply getting on in age and one cannot expect him to still look like he did nearly two decades ago.
Perry’s Attempts to find Love via Dating Apps
Matthew Perry may have gotten married several times on the screen but in real life, he is yet to tie the knot. The American actor was previously in a relationship with his colleague and now ex-girlfriend, Julia Roberts, in 1995. The couple were together for about one year before they went their separate ways.
Later in 2006, Perry was secretly going out with yet another American actress, Lizzy Caplan. Unfortunately, the six-year-long relationship went down the drain as Perry didn’t want to get married. The actor has since then turned to online dating apps to find a partner. He joined the popular dating app, Raya, in 2019 and met a talent manager and producer named Molly Hurwitz. He and the New York native would go on to date for several months during which they celebrated Christmas together.
Perry and Hurwitz were also spotted on a few dates and mutual friends would later reveal that what brought them together was their shared sense of humor. That sense of humor could however not sustain them for long as they broke up in mid-2020. Perry has since re-joined Raya and is said to be messaging girls and getting back into the dating scene.