Saturday 28th October 2023 was a dark day as the loss of Matthew Perry hit hard, real hard. Friends was not only a show that was on our screens for 10 years, but it was shown in over 90 counties, so the character Chandler Bing was a global friend to many and that’s why the news rippled through news outlets, the internet and social media.
Whether you knew Chandler Bing or Matthew Perry himself personally or not, his presence on our screens created an emotional connection. His book Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing was published almost a year to the day of his passing and he laid himself bare and told it all. From the reasons why dumbed Julia Roberts ( who dumps Julia Roberts!) to why he would never watch episodes of Friends because he could see the effect alcohol and prescription drugs etc was having on him. He admits you can tell, season by season, which drug was dominating his life at the time by the way he looked. As he was suffering with the addiction, he managed to hide it from his nearest and dearest until he couldn’t any longer. How many times have we hidden addictive behaviour from our loved ones?
Doesn’t matter what job you do, life is life, pain is pain, we’re all trying to take one step at a time, day by day. And that’s exactly what Matthew Perry was attempting to do. He managed to hide his addiction from his cast mates until it became too huge to hide. He openly confirms that he never took drugs on set but would work extremely hung over.
As you read his words, you hear how Matthew hungered for the role of Chandler Bing because as far as he was concerned, he was Chandler Bing. Both were from a dysfunctional family (sounds familiar), both struggled with maintaining relationships (sounds familiar), both used sarcasm and jokes to mask their pain and awkward feelings (sounds familiar) and when they eventually found love they was afraid of destroying it (sounds familiar). Are you seeing a thread here?
Addiction is a disease. It’s not always about what you’re addicted to but recognising that the disease has taken hold and there are two pieces of advice that Matthew gives which are priceless:
Firstly, once you are aware that you’ve got the disease, and want to do something about it, DON’T HIDE, be open, be real and get help. And secondly DON’T GIVE UP. The road to conquering the disease may take a few attempts. There will be times of falling off the wagon. There will be occasions when the drug of choice may mean more to you than your loved ones and their feelings but ultimately DON’T GIVE UP.
In this really enlightening interview with Canada’s Tom Power below, Matthew explains why the song Don’t Give Up by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush would be the song he would choose should his book have a soundtrack. (You can view the exact moment at 45 mins and 20 seconds in). I’d really recommend watching the the whole interview – it’s worth it.
Matthew’s book Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing is available on Amazon and all other good book retailers
Rest in peace Matthew Perry and thank you for bringing us Chandler Bing, all the laughs and one liners.