Revealing it all. Jennifer Aniston helped Matthew Perry back in the old Friends days. Matthew recounted a time when his co-star confronted him about his drinking problems when they were on set on the iconic sitcom.
In an excerpt of his new memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing obtained from The Times of London, Matthew wrote about how The Morning Show star came up to him to talk about the cast’s concerns for him. “‘I know you’re drinking,’ she said,” he wrote. “I had long since gotten over her – ever since she started dating Brad Pitt, I was fine – and had worked out exactly how long to look at her without it being awkward, but still, to be confronted by Jennifer Aniston was devastating. And I was confused.”
He continued, “‘How can you tell?’ I said. I never worked drunk. ‘I’ve been trying to hide it …’” He added that the cast were always supportive by saying that they”were understanding, and they were patient. It’s like penguins. Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up. They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That’s kind of what the cast did for me.” He then went on to write, “I was the injured penguin, but I was determined to not let these wonderful people, and this show, down,”
Jennifer told Matthew about how they found out about his drinking habits. “‘We can smell it,’ she said, in a kind of weird but loving way, and the plural ‘we’ hit me like a sledgehammer,” he recounted. “‘I know I’m drinking too much,’ I said, ‘but I don’t exactly know what to do about it.’” He explained how his addiction got worse and fluctuated between Friends seasons. “By the end of season three, I was spending most of my time figuring out how to get 55 Vicodin a day – I had to have 55 every day, otherwise I’d get so sick. It was a full-time job: making calls, seeing doctors, faking migraines, finding crooked nurses who would give me what I needed.”
In a People cover story promoting the book, Matthew explained why he wrote the book. “I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again. I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people.” In the past, Perry has been open with his past health issues and drug addiction. In 1997, he completed a 28-day program for Vicodin addiction. He entered rehab a second time in 2001 for addiction to Vicodin, methadone, amphetamines and alcohol.
During Friends: The Reunion, where Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Courteney Cox also starred, fans were concerned about Matthew’s health. They claimed that during the moments Matthew his speech sounded slurred, which led some viewers to wonder if he had a stroke on stage. However, according to a source for The Sun, Perry’s speech wasn’t due to issues with his health but because of a tooth procedure he had earlier that day. “Matthew turned up at the reunion and members of his team said he had an emergency tooth procedure that day,” a source told The Sun. This was said to impact his wellbeing and also how he was feeling,” the source said. The insider explained that the dental work caused Perry some “pain,” which is why he didn’t speak as much during the special. Reunion director Ben Winston reacted to the comments saying, “He was great. People can sometimes just be unkind. I wish they weren’t,” he said. “I loved working with him. He’s a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show. I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this.”
Friends is available to stream on HBO Max. Here’s how to watch it for free.
If you or someone you know is experiencing substance addiction, help is available. Call the National Drug Help Line at 1 (844) 289-0879 for confidential support.
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