Hours Before He Died, Matthew Perry Asked That This Disney Star Play Him in a Movie About His Life

matthew perry and film studio
Credit: New Line Cinema/Warner Bros./Canva

Actor Matthew Perry named the Disney star he wanted to play the younger version of himself in a movie about his life, sharing his hopes about the actor and the film with a friend only hours before his death.

READ ALSO: Hollywood Stars Pay Tribute to the Late Actor Matthew Perry

matthew perry

Credit: Warner Bros.

Matthew Perry, best known for his role as the sarcastic and hilarious Chandler Bing on the NBC sitcom Friends was found dead in a hot tub at his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles on October 28. Officers who arrived on the scene said no foul play was suspected in the 54-year-old’s death, which is being referred to as an “apparent drowning,” though an autopsy performed by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner yielded inconclusive results.

As such, the late actor’s cause of death has been ruled deferred as additional information is needed by the coroner before a more conclusive and definite cause of death can be determined. Part of that information will be gathered from toxicology results, the majority of which are pending as of the time of this post.

FOX News reported that an initial toxicology screening revealed neither fentanyl nor meth was found in Perry’s system at the time of his death.

Matthew Perry by Iris Orellana's

Credit: Iris Orellana/Flickr

Perry’s Fame and Personal Struggles

Matthew Perry’s life was heavily punctuated by Hollywood successes, as well as personal struggles and challenges–by his own admission.

cast of nbc's friends

Credit: NBCUniversal

Perry’s international recognition stems from the iconic role he played as Chandler Bing in NBC’s Friends from 1994 to 2004, but the late actor’s Hollywood resume was full of other credits in television and includes multiple film roles as well. Perry starred as fictional executive producer Matt Albie in the comedy-drama TV series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip by Aaron Sorkin (2006-2007) and played the role of manager Ben Donovan in the ABC series Mr. Sunshine (2011-2012).

Perry’s film credits include Fools Rush In (1997), Almost Heroes (1998), The Whole Nine Yards (2000), Disney’s The Kid (2000), The Ron Clark Story (2006), and 17 Again (2009). 

A Biopic Film About His Life

Perry was empathetic toward others suffering from drug addiction and took the initiative to help them achieve sobriety and peace in their lives. In 2013, he opened a foundation called Perry House, which he operated out of his own home in Malibu, using the mansion as a sober living facility for men.

matthew perry in abc's mr. sunshine

Matthew Perry in “Mr. Sunshine” on ABC/Credit: Disney/ABC

In his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry talked–in painstaking detail–about the challenges, medical complications, and illnesses he faced as a result of an all-consuming drug addiction. He said over the course of his lifetime up to that point, he had spent close to $9 million attempting to find sobriety.

But Perry reportedly had plans for a biopic about his life, and he had even decided which actor he wanted to play a younger version of him in the film.

Lunch with a Friend Hours Before His Death

Shortly after news broke about Perry’s unexpected death, TMZ published photos of the actor and a young woman having lunch at the Hotel Bel-Air on October 27, the day before the actor died at his Los Angeles home. The woman’s identity was initially a mystery, but her decision to speak out about her friendship with Matthew Perry solved it quickly.

Entertainment journalist and model Athenna Crosby says she and Perry enjoyed lunch together the day before his passing, but because Perry was “an extremely private person,” she felt conflicted about speaking publicly about him following news of his death. Crosby remembered her late friend with a tribute to him on Instagram that includes a slideshow reel of images of the late actor captioned with words of tribute and admiration. (Click here to see the reel.)

matthew perry tribute athenna crosby

Credit: Instagram/Athenna Crosby

“I wasn’t going to speak about this, but what I will say is I had the honor of knowing Matthew personally,” Crosby said in her post. “I am so devastated from his death but felt it was in poor taste to talk about it publicly as the attention should not be on me but rather on him and his legacy. He was an extremely private person.”

Perry’s Hopes for a Film About His Life

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Crosby described Perry as “doing great” during their lunch the day before he died and said he was “cracking jokes” and “very optimistic about the future.”

matthew perry zac efron

Credit: New Line Cinema

Crosby, an entertainment journalist in Hollywood and an advocate for people with disabilities, continued, saying that as they enjoyed lunch together, Perry “was talking about how there’s been a public resurgence of interest in him lately.” She said Perry expressed his hope in being able “to utilize that to have a second act in his career.”

According to Crosby, Perry went into detail about a potential part of that “second act.”

“[Perry] said that he wanted to make a movie about his life,” Crosby said. “He had worked with Zac Efron in the past on a movie, and he said that he wanted Efron to play him as a younger version and that he was gonna ask him soon to do that.”

matthew perry and zac efron

Matthew Perry and Zac Efron in “17 Again” (2009)/Credit: New Line Cinema

Matthew Perry and Zac Efron starred in 17 Again (2009), a film from New Line Cinema that centers around a body swap between the two so that both actors played different ages of the same character and is underscored by themes of second chances and new beginnings.

“[Matthew] was just looking forward to sharing more about his story and his recovery from addiction and really championing that cause to help more people,” Crosby added. “He was so optimistic and happy about everything that he wanted to do.”

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!