Actor Matthew Perry, best known for his role as Chandler Bing in the NBC sitcom Friends, was found dead in a jacuzzi in Los Angeles on Saturday evening, and in the first hours following the news of his death, some fans and friends of the 54-year-old actor are wondering whether his personal struggles played a role in his untimely passing.
On Saturday evening, news of actor Matthew Perry’s death by apparent drowning spread like wildfire across social media outlets and served as the basis for the lead stories across local news broadcasts.
Perry was found dead in the jacuzzi at his Los Angeles home, located at 18038 Blue Sail Drive in Pacific Palisades, California, just after 4:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. According to law enforcement officers, first responders were dispatched to the after a 911 call was placed to report a cardiac arrest.
At this time, it’s not clear who made the emergency call. Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department reportedly found no drugs at the scene of the death investigation, and there is no foul play suspected. Sadly, however, some of Matthew Perry’s friends and fans find themselves wondering if they should suspect other things in the death of the 54-year-old actor.
Perry’s Childhood and Rise to Stardom
Matthew Perry was born in Massachusetts in 1969, and his parents divorced before his first birthday. His father moved to California to pursue an acting career, and his mother raised him until he was 15, at which time he moved to Los Angeles to live with his father. Early on, he wanted to pursue a career as a professional tennis player but quickly changed directions after moving to California.
By his own account, he dealt with feelings of loneliness from a very early age–feelings that would seemingly always find their way back to him, ultimately leading him to attempt to find ways to curb those feelings–ways that brought about his suffering over the years.
As a child, [Perry] often felt lonely and like he had to work hard to get his parents’, particularly his mother’s, attention. These feelings would stay with him into adulthood, leading him to turn to substance abuse, fame, and casual relationships to feel less alone.
However, Perry doesn’t blame his parents for his addiction. While he did in the past, he now believes that addiction is a disease and that he has a natural predisposition to it. Still, he believes that that predisposition was worsened by the events of his childhood.
In his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, published in November 2022, Perry says that just before he landed the acting role that would change his life–and the role for which he would best be remembered, he prayed: “God, you can do whatever you want to me; just please make me famous.”
Shortly thereafter, he won the role of Chandler Bing on NBC’s uber-successful series Friends. At its peak, the sitcom was so successful that the cast–Perry, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, and Jennifer Aniston–were making over $1 million per episode.
“Friends was huge. I couldn’t jeopardize that. I loved the script. I loved my co-actors. I loved the scripts. I loved everything about the show,” Perry wrote in his book. “But I was struggling with my addictions, which only added to my sense of shame. I had a secret, and no one could know.”
“Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing”
On November 1, 2022, Perry’s tell-all memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, was published by Flatiron Books. In it, Perry gave fans a glance backstage on the set of NBC’s sitcom Friends, and he even shared his journeys through multiple relationships. But at the heart of the memoir is Perry’s heartbreaking story of an adult life plagued by alcohol and substance abuse, as well as the resulting medical complications and illnesses he suffered as a result of his addictions.
Amazon describes the book as “both a story of on-set antics and celebrity make-outs, as well as a tell-all of the insidious nature of addiction.”
At the age of 30, he was diagnosed with pancreatitis–one of the many results of his addictions. Nearly 20 years later, at the age of 49, Perry suffered a perforated colon and nearly died. He spent nearly half a year hospitalized, and he was only given a 2% chance of survival at the time. Perry revealed in the book that he had 14 operations on his stomach. Over time, the scars from his surgeries motivated him to stay sober.
Perry said he used and abused Xanax, OxyContin, Dilaudid, methadone, buprenorphine/suboxone, cocaine, vodka, and other substances. At one point, he was taking 55 Vicodin each day. The actor admitted that his multiple brushes with death had come because of his addictions to painkillers.
During COVID, he was at a rehab center in Switzerland and faked pain to get 1,800 milligrams of Oxycontin a day and was having daily ketamine infusions. He then had to get surgery while there and was given a shot of propofol. He woke up 11 hours later in a different hospital and was told that the propofol had stopped his heart for five minutes. The long CPR process also broke eight of his ribs, and the doctor refused more meds.
When he left Switzerland, he was told he’d still get the 1,800 milligrams at an L.A. hospital. He paid $175,000 to fly in a private jet home and was told no — the doctor informed him that cancer patients are given 100 milligrams. So he booked another $175,000 private flight that same night back to Switzerland.
This was simply one of his near-death experiences Perry recalled in [his] book.
Perry also shared his journey to find peace and sobriety in his memoir–a journey he described as taking up more than half his life as he continually found himself in rehab and treatment centers. Perry says in his book that he went through detox more than 65 times. Over the course of his adult years, Perry spent close to $9 million attempting to finally get sober, and he said things had changed for him.
“[I was] at the height of my highest point in Friends, the highest point in my career, the iconic moment on the iconic show,” Perry once said. “When you’re a drug addict, it’s all math. I wasn’t doing it to feel high or to feel good. I certainly wasn’t a partyer; I just wanted to sit on my couch, take five Vicodin, and watch a movie. That was heaven for me. It no longer is.”
Perry Dreamed of Falling in Love and Building a Family
Perry said he really wanted to fall in love and have a family. It was something he truly believed was waiting for him on the other side of sobriety.
“I’m going to learn as I go. The thing that’s changed about me is I have no interest in hanging out with somebody that I don’t know or somebody that I’m not that into,” he shared. “The next person I really take seriously is somebody that I’m going to be in love with and not be scared by the things that used to scare me.”
On being a dad someday, Perry said he thought he’d be good at it: “I think I’d be great. I really do. I grew up with a lot of little kids around me, and that’s probably why, but I can’t wait.”
“I’m not run by the fear I used to be run by, so everything’s kind of different,” he said. “I’m feeling more confident, and I’m not afraid of love anymore, so the next girl I go out with better watch out.”
Mourning Fans and Friends Fear the Worst
As news of Perry’s death spread around the internet on Saturday evening, some of the actor’s fans expressed fears that his addictions might have played a role in his drowning in his jacuzzi at his Pacific Palisades home, though it’s important to note that when Perry was discovered at his home, officers found no drugs.
But in the days leading up to the tragedy, Perry made posts to Instagram that concerned his fans.
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
While there’s no context to the posts, they have caused concern for some of Perry’s fans, many of whom responded, asking the actor if he was okay, and some of whom pointed out that they’d heard very little from Perry all year until now.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner will determine Perry’s official cause of death.