Matthew Perry addiction

Matthew Perry detailed how he wanted to be remembered a year before his death

‘I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that’s mentioned’

The world was left shocked and saddened when Matthew Perry passed away at age 54 on Saturday. Endless people have taken to social media to share their favourite photo of video of Matthew in character as Chandler from Friends. Hundreds have headed to the outside of Chandler and Joey’s apartment building in New York City to lay flowers and pay their respects. But Matthew Perry actually detailed how he wanted to be remembered a year before he died— and it was for something besides Friends.

“I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker,” he told the Q with Tom Power podcast in 2022. “And his paramount thing is that he wants to help people. That’s what I want. The best thing about me, bar none, is that if somebody comes to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking, can you help me?’ I can say ‘yes’ and follow up and do it,” he explained. “When I die, I don’t want Friends’ to be the first thing that’s mentioned. I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned. And I’m gonna live the rest of my life proving that.”

Matthew became addicted to the pain medication Vicodin after a jet ski accident in 1997 and went to rehab in 2001. After his own treatment, he later turned his former home in Malibu into a sober living space called Perry House, which was open until 2015. Matthew said he was sober by 2021 and estimated he’d spent around $9million on making it happen. He said his struggle with substances began when he was cast in Friends aged 24 and became unmanageable 10 years later. “By the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” he said. “I didn’t know how to stop.”

Despite his success on Friends, Matthew never watched the series back because all he could see, season to season, were the addiction struggles he was facing at the time. “I didn’t watch the show, and haven’t watched the show, because I could go drinking … opiates … drinking … cocaine,” he said. “Like I could tell season by season by how I looked.”

Matthew’s proudest achievment, and the legacy he wanted to leave behind, was his ability to help others recovering from addiction. “When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends. And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor, as well as given people multiple chances to make fun of my struggles on the world wide web,” he wrote in his memoir last year.

“But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people. I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.”

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Featured image credit via Jean Cummings/THA/Shutterstock