‘Friends’ creators say Matthew Perry’s death ‘seems impossible’
Updated 6:12 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — Family, friends and fellow celebrities on Sunday mourned the loss of Matthew Perry, the wise-cracking co-star of the 1990s hit television sitcom “Friends,” a day after the actor was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home.
“Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend,” Perry’s family said in a statement published by People magazine. “We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother.”
The statement thanked Perry’s fans for their “tremendous outpouring of love.”
“It still seems impossible,” the show’s principle creative team, Marta Kauffman, David Crane and Kevin Bright, said in a joint statement on Sunday. “All we can say is that we feel blessed to have had him as part of our lives.”
Word of Perry’s death emerged late on Saturday in a flurry of news media reports, followed by statements from NBC, the broadcast network that aired “Friends” for 10 years, and Warner Bros. Television Group, which produced the show.
No official details were immediately released.
Asked about the circumstances of Perry’s death, a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson, Captain Erik Scott, replied, without referring to Perry by name, that firefighters called to an address in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood found “an adult male unconscious in a stand-alone jacuzzi.”
“A bystander had brought the man’s head above the water and gotten him to the edge, then firefighters removed him from the water upon their arrival,” Scott wrote to Reuters by text, adding that a quick medical assessment at the scene revealed “the man was deceased” before emergency personnel arrived.
The cause and manner of death is to be determined by medical examiners, he said.
Scott’s account was consistent with several news media reports, citing law enforcement sources, that Perry was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home. No foul play was suspected, according to those reports.
Perry’s death came one year after publication of his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” which chronicled decades-long bouts with addiction to prescription painkillers and alcohol, a struggle he said came close to ending his life more than once.
In his introduction to the book, the U.S.-Canadian actor wrote, “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.” At the time, Perry said he had been sober for about 18 months.
Perry gained fame and remains best known for his role as the sardonically wry statistical analyst Chandler Bing on “Friends,” which ranked among the top-10 prime-time television shows for much of its original network run from 1994 to 2004.
‘Gift to us all’
The series, still popular in syndication, made global stars out of Perry and all five of his lead castmates – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow. The six earned wide critical acclaim for their on-screen chemistry, playing a close-knit group of young singles who shared space in each other’s apartments and hung out together at the “Central Perk,” a fictional Manhattan coffee house.
Although Chandler and Cox’s character, Monica, were wed in the show’s seventh season, Perry never married in real life.
None of Perry’s “Friends” co-stars had yet to publicly comment on his death as of Sunday afternoon.
But the official “Friends” webpage on Instagram said: “We are devastated to learn of Matthew Perry’s passing. He was a true gift to us all. Our heart goes out to his family, loved ones, and all of his fans.”
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Singer Adele gave a tearful tribute to Perry and his Chandler character during her Las Vegas show on Saturday night.
“I’ll remember that character for the rest of my life,” she said as the audience cheered, according to the Los Angeles Times. “He’s probably the best comedic actor of all time,” she said.
Many celebrities shared their thoughts on social media over the weekend, such as actor Alyssa Milano, who co-starred with Perry in the 1988 prom night film “Dance ‘Til Dawn,” described him as “always the funniest person in the room.”
“Matty, remember when we used to go play bingo at that church in the valley?” she wrote. “You made me laugh that painful kind of laugh. A cry laugh. You made me cry-laugh.”
Wendell Pierce, who worked with Perry on “The Odd Couple,” wrote on X that for two years, “Matthew Perry was my boss, my colleague, and a giving, kind, funny man. I pray and hope he is at peace.”
Shannen Doherty shared a photo on Instagram and reflected on their friendship, which extended back to an appearance on “Beverly Hills 90210,” and included a Valentine’s Day date in Malibu once.
“We were a gang way back. We all grew up together going to the Formosa … We played dare and Matt had to say ridiculous things to girls at the bar. We just always had fun and supported each other. You would always find us all together in a booth speaking in our own made up language. And yes, Matt always had THAT sense of humor,” Doherty wrote. “I could be more poetic or say things better but right now, shock and sadness prevail.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, writing on Instagram, recalled meeting Perry at the Williamstown Theater Festival in the summer of 1993, where they were both doing plays. The “Friends” pilot had been shot but not yet aired. The actor and lifestyle guru recalled Perry as funny, sweet and fun to be with.
“We drove out to swim in creeks, had beers in the local college bar, kissed in a field of long grass. It was a magical summer,” she wrote. “I am super sad today, as so many of us are. I hope Matthew is at peace at long last. I really do.”
A tribute even came from Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a boyhood friend of the young Perry, who was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Ottawa after his mother, a Canadian journalist divorced Perry’s father, remarried and moved with the boy to Ontario. The mother served for a time as press secretary to Trudeau’s father, Pierre, while he headed the Canadian government decades ago.