Matthew Perry: A look back at the ups-and-downs of the 'Friends' actor's life

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In the 1990s, Matthew Perry was one of the biggest actors on television thanks to his role in “Friends.”

Though he was a lauded figure in Hollywood, the star, now 51, was also known for struggling with substance abuse during the peak of his fame – so much so that he’s said he has no memory of filming certain episodes of the hit sitcom.

However, after stints in rehab and many years of work, Perry managed to course-correct his life and found more success on the small screen.

On Wednesday, HBO Max dropped the first official trailer for the upcoming “Friends” reunion, which will see Perry come together with Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc to reminisce on the good ol’ days.

Ahead of the special’s May 27 premiere, here’s a look back at Perry’s life:

Fledgling actor

Matthew Perry and Alyssa Milano in a 1990 episode of ‘Who’s the Boss?’  (Photo by Bob D’Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Perry was born in Massachusetts in 1969 and raised in Canada by his mother until relocating to Los Angeles with his father and becoming an actor.

In his early days, Perry mostly had one-off appearances in popular shows like “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “Growing Pains” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

He also appeared in a handful of movies alongside bigger stars such as Christina Applegate in “Dance ‘Til Dawn,” Gwyneth Paltrow in “Deadly Relations” and River Phoenix in “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.”


Pictured: (l-r) Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani.
(Jon Ragel/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

After a few years working in television, Perry struck gold when he was cast in Friends.

He played the famously sarcastic Chandler Bing, one of six friends living in New York City. The show ran from 1994-2004 and earned Perry an Emmy nomination.

Like his co-stars, Perry shot to superstardom overnight and his work on the show – and the fame that came with it – would help him land jobs for years to come.

The addictions

At the height of his fame, Matthew Perry began to struggle with addictions to drugs and alcohol. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

With a level of fame that’s out-of-this-world came several problems for Perry. 

In 2013, the star explained that his years on “Friends” were “actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism,” per Today.

Alcohol wasn’t the only substance he was abusing, either, as he became dependant on Vicodin after a Jet Ski accident in 1997, according to People.

After getting hooked on pills, the star sought treatment in rehab, but was only able “to stay sober for a brief period.”

In 2001, Perry was “in fear of losing my life” and called his parents to ask for help. They put him in an undisclosed rehab.

Bouncing back

Matthew Perry (left) on stage at the Emmys in 2003 with his fellow ‘Friends’ stars David Schwimmer (center) and Matt LeBlanc (right) to present the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)

Over the years, Perry had developed a reputation for being a troubled star – he once crashed his car into an unoccupied home the same day he checked out of a two-week stay in a hospital – but he’s been able to clean things up since then.

For the last two seasons of “Friends,” Perry and his co-stars managed to negotiate a million-dollar-per-episode payday.

In 2003, Perry earned his second Emmy nomination for his guest appearance on “The West Wing.”

More success

Matthew Perry has become a respected film, television and stage actor.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Perry would go on to find more success on television in the following years.

He earned a second Emmy nomination for “The West Wing,” and in 2007, was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for starring in the TV movie “The Ron Clark Story,” which follows a small-town teacher who relocates to a rough school.

He also starred in the popular but short-lived “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and a reboot of “The Odd Couple.”

With appearances in “Cougar Town” and “Web Therapy,” he reunited on-screen with Cox and Kudrow, respectively.

Now, he’s set to star in Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and more.

Fans are concerned again

After the release of the trailer, fans became concerned for Perry when they noticed an emotional moment that caused him to get choked up.

Additionally, in an interview with People that was released the same day, Perry’s slurred speech had fans worried for his health.

A rep for Perry has not responded to Fox News’ request for comment.

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