What Was Matthew Perry's Final Acting Role?

While it's impossible to disconnect Matthew Perry from his iconic "Friends" character, Chandler Bing, the actor enjoyed an almost four-decade-long career that ran from 1979 to his final acting role in 2017. Although the world was saddened to learn of Matthew Perry's sudden passing in October 2023, the actor leaves behind an impressive body of work capped off by a transformative performance as Senator Ted Kennedy.

After his television debut on the police drama "240-Robert," Perry landed his first major part on the Fox sitcom "Second Chance," retitled in its second season "Boys Will Be Boys" to focus on Perry's character Chazz. Perry then spent the late '80s and early '90s making minor appearances on major television programs such as "Growing Pains," "Beverly Hills, 90210," and "Who's The Boss?"

He was eventually cast on "Friends," where he spent the next decade playing the snarky Chandler Bing. That role cemented Perry as a household name and earned him his first Emmy nomination, but it was far from the end of his career. Perry went on to make memorable guest appearances in the Aaron Sorkin series "The West Wing," where he would receive his second and third Emmy nominations, before later starring in Sorkin's follow-up series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

Perry also appeared in several films, including "The Whole Nine Yards" in 2000 and "17 Again" in 2009. In 2016, Perry also wrote and starred in "The End of Longing," which premiered in London's West End. However, television remained his main area of focus, and it is in the television miniseries "The Kennedys: After Camelot" that fans can see the actor play his final role.

Matthew Perry starred as Ted Kennedy in The Kennedys: After Camelot

While "The End of Longing" was still running, Perry took a lead role as the influential politician Ted Kennedy in the 2017 Reelz miniseries "The Kennedys: After Camelot," a follow-up to the 2011 series "The Kennedys."

"The Kennedys: After Camelot" follows Ted Kennedy as he attempts to live up to the legacy of his brothers, including President John F. Kennedy. The series depicts dramatic events such as the Chappaquiddick incident, in which Kennedy accidentally drove his car into the Chappaquiddick River, resulting in the death of his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, and examines the impact of this incident on Kennedy's presidential campaign.

The series continues to track the politician's career into his late 60s, by which time he was known as the Lion of the Senate. Playing an esteemed yet controversial figure in American politics presented a challenge for Perry, who told the Star Tribune that he took the role "because it scared me. There was a lot of emotion and tragedy, and just the age range."

While critics were split on their opinions about Perry's performance, the actor gave it his all to depict Ted Kennedy -– not to mention his distinctive accent. As Perry explained on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," he met with a dialect coach well over a dozen times only to toss out all that work and take a fresh approach after arriving on set.

Even though "The Kennedys: After Camelot" will likely never be as closely associated with Perry as some of his better-known roles, it remains a unique demonstration of his range and fascinating endpoint for his successful career as a television icon.