A look back at Matthew Perry’s struggles after actor revealed his drug addiction nearly killed him


Friends star Matthew Perry has laid bare the intimate details of his battle with opioid and alcohol addiction, revealing that his struggles left him comatose and fighting for his life for several weeks in an explosive new interview with People magazine.

The actor, 53, became an international sensation practically over night after he landed the role as Chandler Bing in the NBC comedy show Friends. He soon became one of the highest paid actors in the world – earning $1 million per episode by 2002 – and quickly stole everyone’s hearts with his sarcastic and witty sense of humor.

But while he came off as the hilarious and heartwarming guy who always had a smile on his face on the screen, behind-the-scenes, the star was facing a downward spiral of drug addiction, alcohol use, and overdoses that left him with just a two per cent chance of survival.

Friends star Matthew Perry has laid bare the intimate details of his battle with opioid and alcohol addiction, revealing that his struggles left him comatose and fighting for his life for several weeks in an explosive new interview with People magazine 

The actor, 53, became an international sensation practically over night after he landed the role as Chandler Bing in the NBC comedy show Friends - and he quickly stole everyone's hearts with his sarcastic and witty sense of humor

The actor, 53, became an international sensation practically over night after he landed the role as Chandler Bing in the NBC comedy show Friends – and he quickly stole everyone’s hearts with his sarcastic and witty sense of humor

But while he came off as the hilarious and heartwarming guy on the screen, behind-the-scenes, the star was facing a downward spiral of drug addiction, alcohol use, and overdoses that left him with just a two per cent chance of survival

But while he came off as the hilarious and heartwarming guy on the screen, behind-the-scenes, the star was facing a downward spiral of drug addiction, alcohol use, and overdoses that left him with just a two per cent chance of survival

As Perry speaks out about his brutal drug addiction, DailyMail.com has lifted a lid on his rise to fame - including how he got his start and the moment he decided to turn to drugs - as well as his secret breakdown. He is seen in 2019

As Perry speaks out about his brutal drug addiction, DailyMail.com has lifted a lid on his rise to fame – including how he got his start and the moment he decided to turn to drugs – as well as his secret breakdown. He is seen in 2019

Perry turned to drugs to deal with the immense fame and pressure that came with starring in one of the most popular shows of all time – and now, he has revealed that he needed 14 surgeries on his stomach and has been in rehab 15 different times as a result of his addictions.

The comedian told People that during the height of his career, he was taking 55 pain killers per day and dropped down to only 128 pounds. He also revealed that he nearly lost his life after his colon burst four years ago, at age 49 – leaving him in a coma with very little chance of making it out alive.

‘The doctors told my family that I had a two per cent chance to live. I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that,’ he explained to the outlet.

As Perry speaks out about his brutal drug addiction, DailyMail.com has lifted a lid on his rise to fame – including how he got his start and the moment he decided to turn to drugs – as well as his secret breakdown, which occurred all the while he was portraying one of the most beloved characters of all time.

Perry’s rise to the top: How he became a major star due to his obsession with fame

Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1969. His mom, Suzanne, was the former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his dad, John, was an actor and former model. He is seen in 1985

Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1969. His mom, Suzanne, was the former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his dad, John, was an actor and former model. He is seen in 1985

At age 15, the actor moved from Ottawa to Los Angeles, California, to spend more time with his dad and pursue a career in acting. He is pictured in 1994

At age 15, the actor moved from Ottawa to Los Angeles, California, to spend more time with his dad and pursue a career in acting. He is pictured in 1994

Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1969. His mom, Suzanne, was the former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his dad, John, was an actor and former model.

After graduating from The Buckley School in 1987, he landed his first role in the Fox TV show Second Chance (pictured) that same year, which was later renamed Boys Will be Boys

After graduating from The Buckley School in 1987, he landed his first role in the Fox TV show Second Chance (pictured) that same year, which was later renamed Boys Will be Boys

His parents divorced before his first birthday, and his mom went on to re-marry journalist Keith Morrison; Perry spent most of his childhood living with his mom and step-dad in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 

As a child, he was an avid tennis player, and he said the drive to win helped turn him into an actor later on. 

‘I needed to succeed at whatever I was doing so I could feel better about myself,’ he told the New York Times in a 2002 interview. ‘I had this incredible drive on the tennis court, and that translated into acting’ 

At age 15, the actor moved from Ottawa to Los Angeles, California, to spend more time with his dad and pursue a career in acting. 

After graduating from The Buckley School in 1987, he landed his first role in the Fox TV show Second Chance that same year, which was later renamed Boys Will be Boys.

His other early acting credits include the 1988 movie A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, the sitcom Growing Pains, CBS’ Sydney, and the ABC series Home Free.

The actor told the Times that he always ‘wanted to become famous,’ explaining that he’d do anything in his power to achieve his goal.

‘There was steam coming out of my ears, I wanted to be famous so badly,’ he recalled of his early years trying to break into the industry.

‘You want the attention, you want the bucks, and you want the best seat in the restaurant. I didn’t think what the repercussions would be.’

The actor told the Times that he always 'wanted to become famous,' explaining, 'There was steam coming out of my ears, I wanted to be famous so badly. You want the attention, you want the bucks, and you want the best seat in the restaurant'

The actor told the Times that he always ‘wanted to become famous,’ explaining, ‘There was steam coming out of my ears, I wanted to be famous so badly. You want the attention, you want the bucks, and you want the best seat in the restaurant’

He then landed his major breakout role as Chandler in Friends - propelling him into stardom and earning him $1 million per episode by 2002. He is seen with his Friends castmates

He then landed his major breakout role as Chandler in Friends – propelling him into stardom and earning him $1 million per episode by 2002. He is seen with his Friends castmates

While starring in the beloved sitcom, Perry also landed some major movie roles - including Fools Rush In (opposite Salma Hayek), adventure comedy Almost Heroes, rom-com Three to Tango (pictured), The Whole Nine Yards, and Serving Sara

While starring in the beloved sitcom, Perry also landed some major movie roles – including Fools Rush In (opposite Salma Hayek), adventure comedy Almost Heroes, rom-com Three to Tango (pictured), The Whole Nine Yards, and Serving Sara

He then landed his major breakout role as Chandler in Friends – propelling him into stardom and earning him $1 million per episode by 2002. 

Friends premiered in September 1994, and went on for 10 seasons before it concluded in May 2004. It also starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer and revolved around six friends in their 20s and 30s who lived in Manhattan.

It went on to become one of the most popular shows of all time – landing itself on the top 10 most watched show list for all 10 of its season, and earning a whopping 62 Emmy Award nominations during its reign.

While starring in the beloved sitcom, Perry also landed some major movie roles – including Fools Rush In  (opposite Salma Hayek), adventure comedy Almost Heroes, rom-com Three to Tango, The Whole Nine Yards (alongside Bruce Willis and Amanda Peet) and its sequel, The Whole Ten Yards, and Serving Sara in 2002.

Perry’s secret battle with drug addiction: How he hid his downward spiral from the world while acting in one of the biggest shows of all time

While Perry (seen on Friends) was skyrocketed into the spotlight, the immense fame and pressure soon became too much for him. He told the Times, 'It's kind of like Disneyland for a while. And then you realize that it doesn't accomplish anything'

While Perry (seen on Friends) was skyrocketed into the spotlight, the immense fame and pressure soon became too much for him. He told the Times, ‘It’s kind of like Disneyland for a while. And then you realize that it doesn’t accomplish anything’

In 1997, Perry got into a jet ski accident and was prescribed Vicodin, a powerful and addictive pain medication - which would eventually turn into in a years-long battle with drug addiction. He is seen in Friends in 1997

In 1997, Perry got into a jet ski accident and was prescribed Vicodin, a powerful and addictive pain medication – which would eventually turn into in a years-long battle with drug addiction. He is seen in Friends in 1997

While Perry was quickly skyrocketed into the spotlight, the immense fame and pressure soon became too much for him. 

‘When it happens, it’s kind of like Disneyland for a while,’ he told the Times. ‘For me it lasted about eight months, this feeling of “I’ve made it, I’m thrilled, there’s no problem in the world.”

While to the public, he appeared as the funny and happy Chandler, he was secretly spiraling behind the scenes, and he eventually had to check himself into a rehab facility in 1997

While to the public, he appeared as the funny and happy Chandler, he was secretly spiraling behind the scenes, and he eventually had to check himself into a rehab facility in 1997

‘And then you realize that it doesn’t accomplish anything, it’s certainly not filling any holes in your life.’

He said he had one moment after production kicked off for Three to Tango that he realized he was in over his head; he was driving home from a day on set when he needed his drive to pull over suddenly.

‘I got out of the car and as I stood by the side of the road, I thought I was going to throw up,’ he recalled. ‘I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”

‘You’re not hearing any laughter when you’re on a movie set. You’re shooting it out of order, which I had never experienced before. You’re meeting the girl, and, the day before, you married the girl.’

In 1997, Perry got into a jet ski accident and was prescribed Vicodin, a powerful and addictive pain medication – which would eventually turn into in a years-long battle with drug addiction.

While to the public, he appeared as the funny and happy Chandler, he was secretly spiraling behind the scenes, and he eventually had to check himself into a rehab facility in 1997. 

‘It’s no accident that Chandler is a guy who is trying to deter his own human emotional feelings with laughter, that’s what I did for years,’ he said. 

He also told People in a previous interview of his addiction, ‘It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it. But from the start I liked how it made me feel, and I wanted to get more.’

He said that at his worst, he would take 55 pills daily, and would drink 'probably a quart of vodka a day.' He also lost around 20 pounds, adding, 'I was out of control and very unhealthy. I returned to my original birth weight.' He is seen in Scrubs in 2004

He said that at his worst, he would take 55 pills daily, and would drink ‘probably a quart of vodka a day.’ He also lost around 20 pounds, adding, ‘I was out of control and very unhealthy. I returned to my original birth weight.’ He is seen in Scrubs in 2004

He spent 28 days at a treatment center in Minnesota in 1997, but his struggles didn't end there. In May 2000, his battle with alcohol and drug use had become so severe that he was admitted to the hospital with pancreatitis. He is seen in March 2000

He spent 28 days at a treatment center in Minnesota in 1997, but his struggles didn’t end there. In May 2000, his battle with alcohol and drug use had become so severe that he was admitted to the hospital with pancreatitis. He is seen in March 2000

He said that at his worst, he would take 55 pills daily, and would drink ‘probably a quart of vodka a day.’ He also lost around 20 pounds, adding, ‘I was out of control and very unhealthy. I returned to my original birth weight.’

He spent 28 days at a treatment center in Minnesota in 1997, but his struggles didn’t end there. In May 2000, his battle with alcohol and drug use had become so severe that he was admitted to the hospital with pancreatitis, a potentially deadly condition that develops from heavy drinking.

While he insisted that he 'never drank on set,' he told the Times that he would come to work 'extremely' hungover. 'It's so horrible to feel that way and have to work and be funny on top of that,' the actor (seen in 2002) said

While he insisted that he ‘never drank on set,’ he told the Times that he would come to work ‘extremely’ hungover. ‘It’s so horrible to feel that way and have to work and be funny on top of that,’ the actor (seen in 2002) said

‘I didn’t know how to stop,’ he admitted in the new interview. ‘If the police came over to my house and said, “If you drink tonight, we’re going to take you to jail,” I’d start packing. 

‘I couldn’t stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older.’

While he insisted that he ‘never drank on set,’ he told the Times that he would come to work ‘extremely’ hungover.

‘It’s so horrible to feel that way and have to work and be funny on top of that,’ the actor said, adding that he would sometimes find himself sweating and shaking on the Friends set.

He also told People that he did his best to hide his problems from the media – but his drastic change in appearance hinted that something was wrong. 

And while his addiction was mostly hidden from the outside world, his problems were certainly no secret to his friends and costars. 

‘Hard doesn’t even begin to describe it,’ his former Friends castmate Kudrow said to the Times. ‘When Matthew was sick, it was not fun. 

‘We were just hopelessly standing on the sidelines. We were hurting a lot. Matthew is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life. He’s charming and hilarious. Most of our hard laughs came from Matthew.’

He previously told People that his fellow Friends stars often tried to him him, but he ‘wasn’t ready to hear it.’ He explained: ‘You can’t tell anyone to get sober. It has to come from you.’

He previously told People that his fellow Friends stars often tried to him him, but he 'wasn't ready to hear it.' He explained: 'You can¿t tell anyone to get sober. It has to come from you'

He previously told People that his fellow Friends stars often tried to him him, but he ‘wasn’t ready to hear it.’ He explained: ‘You can’t tell anyone to get sober. It has to come from you’

While he was working on the movie Serving Sara (pictured) in 2001, things became so bad that Perry realized he couldn't go on like that any longer, and he decided to take a break from filming to go back to rehab for two months

While he was working on the movie Serving Sara (pictured) in 2001, things became so bad that Perry realized he couldn’t go on like that any longer, and he decided to take a break from filming to go back to rehab for two months

He also called them ‘understanding’ and ‘patient’ in the new interview, adding, ‘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.’

While he was working on the movie Serving Sara in 2001, things became so bad that Perry realized he couldn’t go on like that any longer, and he decided to take a break from filming to go back to rehab.

‘I can’t describe it,’ he said of the moment he realized he needed to make a change. ‘Because bigger things were taking place that I can’t put into words.

‘I was in fear of losing my life. There’s a moment of clarity where you have to prioritize your life. I listened to it. It was scary. I didn’t want to die.’

He stepped out of the spotlight for more than two months, and he said he finally ‘learned that a happy life is possible without alcohol or drugs,’ before he returned to finish filming Serving Sara.

‘I didn’t get sober because I felt like it. I got sober because I was worried I was going to die the next day,’ he told the Times. 

Life after Friends: How Perry found himself fighting for his life after his colon burst at age 49

After Friends came to an end in 2004, Perry's career continued to flourish. He went on to star in The Ron Clark Story, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Numb, 17 Again (pictured), Go On, The Odd Couple, and The Kennedys: After Camelot

After Friends came to an end in 2004, Perry's career continued to flourish. He went on to star in The Ron Clark Story, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Numb, 17 Again, Go On, The Odd Couple (pictured), and The Kennedys: After Camelot

After Friends came to an end in 2004, Perry’s career continued to flourish. He went on to star in The Ron Clark Story, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Numb, 17 Again (left), Go On, The Odd Couple (right), and The Kennedys: After Camelot

In 2011, Perry announced that he was going back to rehab to 'focus on his sobriety.' At the time, he told People that 'there was no relapse.' He is seen in 2011

In 2011, Perry announced that he was going back to rehab to ‘focus on his sobriety.’ At the time, he told People that ‘there was no relapse.’ He is seen in 2011

In 2016, he launched a play about his experiences, called The End of Longing, which premiered on the West End in London and eventually moved to off-Broadway. He is seen at the opening

In 2016, he launched a play about his experiences, called The End of Longing, which premiered on the West End in London and eventually moved to off-Broadway. He is seen at the opening

After Friends came to an end in 2004, Perry’s career continued to flourish. He went on to star in The Ron Clark Story (which earned him a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination), the drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the 2007 flick Numb, 17 Again (which also starred Zac Efron), NBC comedy Go On, The Odd Couple revival (which he also co-wrote and executive produced), and The Kennedys: After Camelot.

While it seemed to the public that Perry's battles with addiction were long gone, he secretly almost lost his life a few years ago, at age 49, when his colon burst due to opioid overuse. He is seen in 2016

While it seemed to the public that Perry’s battles with addiction were long gone, he secretly almost lost his life a few years ago, at age 49, when his colon burst due to opioid overuse. He is seen in 2016

In 2011, Perry announced that he was going back to rehab to ‘focus on his sobriety,’ explaining in a statement at the time, ‘I’m making plans to go away for a month to focus on my sobriety and to continue my life in recovery. Please enjoy making fun of me on the World Wide Web.’ But at the time, he told People that ‘there was no relapse.’ 

Around that time, he also became a spokesperson for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and went to Capitol Hill to lobby members of congress in an attempt to get more funding for drug courts. 

In 2013, he opened his own sober living home in Malibu, California, which he sold two years later. Then, in 2016, he launched a play about his experiences, called The End of Longing, which premiered on the West End in London and eventually moved to off-Broadway.

While it seemed to the public that Perry’s battles with addiction were long gone, he secretly almost lost his life a few years ago, at age 49, when his colon burst due to opioid overuse. He spent two weeks in a coma and five months in the hospital, and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.

Now, he told People that he is ‘pretty healthy,’ and he is gearing up to release a memoir, entitled Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing on October 28.

‘So much has been written about me in the past. I thought it was time people heard from me,’ he wrote on Twitter while promoting the book. 

‘The highs were high, the lows were low. But I have lived to tell the tale, even though at times it looked like I wouldn’t. And it’s all in here.’

The actor (seen in 2017) spent two weeks in a coma and five months in the hospital, and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months

The actor (seen in 2017) spent two weeks in a coma and five months in the hospital, and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months

He told People that he has decided to tell his story now that he is ‘safe’ from going back to the ‘dark side,’ but didn’t reveal how long he has been sober.

‘I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again,’ he explained. ‘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.’

Now, he told People that he is 'pretty healthy,' and he is gearing up to release a memoir, entitled Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing on October 28

Now, he told People that he is ‘pretty healthy,’ and he is gearing up to release a memoir, entitled Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing on October 28

He explained that going through the near-death experience helped open his eyes.

‘The next time you think about taking Oxycontin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,’ he recalled his therapist telling him, adding, ‘A little window opened and I crawled through it and I no longer want Oxycontin anymore.

‘There were five people put on an ECMO machine that night and the other four died and I survived. So the big question is why? Why was I the one? There has to be some kind of reason.’

But if he were to relapse again, he has reminded himself that it’s OK. He concluded: ‘If you lose your sobriety, it doesn’t mean you lose all that time and education. 

‘Your sober date changes, but that’s all that changes. You know everything you knew before, as long as you were able to fight your way back without dying, you learn a lot.

‘I’m an extremely grateful guy. I’m grateful to be alive, that’s for sure. And that gives me the possibility to do anything.

‘What I’m most surprised with is my resilience. The way that I can bounce back from all of this torture and awfulness. 

‘Wanting to tell the story, even though it’s a little scary to tell all your secrets in a book, I didn’t leave anything out. Everything’s in there. [It’s a story] that’s filled with hope, because here I am.’

Perry’s tumultuous romantic life: How the actor struggled to find love by dating a slew of famous faces

Over the course of his career, Perry has been linked to a slew of famous faces. Back in the '90s, he made headlines after news hit the web that he was dating actress Julia Roberts, who he had met on set of Friends when she made a guest appearance

Over the course of his career, Perry has been linked to a slew of famous faces. Back in the ’90s, he made headlines after news hit the web that he was dating actress Julia Roberts, who he had met on set of Friends when she made a guest appearance

Over the course of his career, Perry has been linked to a slew of famous faces. Back in the ’90s, he made headlines after news hit the web that he was dating actress Julia Roberts, who he had met on set of Friends when she made a guest appearance.

They were together for a year before splitting in 1996. He then briefly dated Baywatch star Yasmine Bleeth (seen)

They were together for a year before splitting in 1996. He then briefly dated Baywatch star Yasmine Bleeth (seen)

They were together for a year before splitting in 1996. He then briefly dated Baywatch star Yasmine Bleeth.

After starring in Three to Tango together, Perry dated his costar Neve Campbell in 1998. After that, he was in a year-long relationship with Bold and the Beautiful actress Maeve Quinlan from 2002 to 2003.

He was also briefly linked to Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham in 2003. But arguably his most controversial romance was with fashion student Rachel Dunn, since she was 14-years younger than him. They were together for two years, before going their separate ways in 2005. 

His longest relationship was with actress Lizzy Caplan, whom he dated for six years from 2006 until 2012. 

Perry was also linked to a woman named Kayti Edwards in the early 2000s, who later claimed the actor had her score drugs for him while she was pregnant.

In December last year, Edwards told The Sun that after their romantic relationship was over, in 2011 – when she was five months pregnant – he would pay her thousands of dollars to procure drugs for him because he said no one would suspect a pregnant woman.

‘He [would say], “No one’s going to pull over a pregnant girl. Don’t worry,”‘ she claimed. ‘He would set it up and say, “Ok, go to this address and meet this person, they’re going to come out and hand you a bag.” I’d drive straight to him.’ 

After starring in Three to Tango together, Perry dated his costar Neve Campbell (pictured) in 1998. After that, he was in a year-long relationship with Bold and the Beautiful actress Maeve Quinlan from 2002 to 2003

After starring in Three to Tango together, Perry dated his costar Neve Campbell in 1998. After that, he was in a year-long relationship with Bold and the Beautiful actress Maeve Quinlan (pictured) from 2002 to 2003

After starring in Three to Tango together, Perry dated his costar Neve Campbell (left) in 1998. After that, he was in a year-long relationship with Bold and the Beautiful actress Maeve Quinlan (right) from 2002 to 2003

He was also briefly linked to Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham (seen) in 2003. But arguably his most controversial romance was with fashion student Rachel Dunn, since she was 14-years younger than him, whom he dated for two years

He was also briefly linked to Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham (seen) in 2003. But arguably his most controversial romance was with fashion student Rachel Dunn, since she was 14-years younger than him, whom he dated for two years

But arguably his most controversial romance was with fashion student Rachel Dunn (pictured), since she was 14-years younger than him, whom he dated for two years. He was then in a relationship with actress Lizzy Caplan from 2006 until 2012

But arguably his most controversial romance was with fashion student Rachel Dunn, since she was 14-years younger than him, whom he dated for two years. He was then in a relationship with actress Lizzy Caplan (pictured) from 2006 until 2012

But arguably his most controversial romance was with fashion student Rachel Dunn (left), since she was 14-years younger than him, whom he dated for two years. He was then in a relationship with actress Lizzy Caplan (right) from 2006 until 2012

Edwards said when she got the bag of items ‘it was just like a smorgasbord’ of pills, cocaine and sometimes heroin and crack. 

In November 2020, Perry became engaged to literary manager Molly Hurwitz, but they split in June 2021. 

‘Sometimes things just don’t work out and this is one of them. I wish Molly the best,’ he said in a statement afterwards.  

He faced controversy in May 2020, after a 19-year-old woman that he allegedly matched with on the dating app Raya leaked a video message sent by the star.

The Friends actor allegedly asked the teen, ‘Am I as old as your dad?’ during the flirty exchange, which was shared by the woman, named Kate Haralson, in a TikTok video. She claimed the exchange happened one year earlier.  



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