The Sad Reason Matthew Perry Refused To Watch Friends

The following article included mention of substance abuse and addiction.

"Friends" was a cultural phenomenon, watched by millions, yet surprisingly not by one of its main stars. Matthew Perry — who starred as Chandler Bing in the iconic '90s sitcom throughout its 10-season run — once confessed he refused to watch reruns of the show. The reason behind his reluctance? It's more poignant than you might expect.

Tragically, Perry will never have the opportunity. The beloved "Friends" actor was found dead at his Los Angeles home on October 28. According to TMZ, Perry's assistant discovered his body in his jacuzzi in what appears to be an apparent drowning. Perry's tragic real-life story was filled with ups and downs, as detailed in his 2022 memoir "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing." Although many knew the actor grappled with addiction, Perry delved into the extent of his struggles in his book. "Every day I would show up to set, pass out in my chair, wake up to do a scene, stumble to set, then just basically scream into a camera for two minutes," Perry revealed, according to Today.

It shouldn't come as a surprise then that the actor's prolonged struggle with addiction and substance abuse played a starring role in his decision to skip the "Friends" reruns.

Matthew Perry avoids watching Friends due to his past struggles with addiction

While "Friends" made Matthew Perry a household name and helped the actor amass a staggering net worth, the actor couldn't bear to watch himself. Speaking with Tom Power, the "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" actor detailed the sad reason he wasn't a fan of the show. "I was taking 55 Vicodin in a day. I weighed 128 pounds. I was on 'Friends' getting watched by 30 million people — that's why I can't watch the show because I was, like, brutally thin," Perry candidly explained during the interview. "I didn't watch the show and haven't watched the show because I could go 'drinking, opiates, drinking, cocaine. ...I could tell season-by-season how I looked." He added, "Alcoholism did not care that I was on 'Friends.'"

The actor ultimately achieved sobriety, albeit at a significant cost. During a 2022 interview with The New York Times, he confessed, "I've probably spent $9 million or something trying to get sober." At the time, Perry told the outlet he had been drug and alcohol-free for 18 months. 

Later in his conversation with Tom Power, the actor discussed the enduring appeal of "Friends" and how his perspective on watching the sitcom was beginning to change. "I think I'm going to start to watch it because it really has been — first of all, it was an incredible ride — but it's been an incredible thing to watch it touch the hearts of different generations," he shared, noting that the show had become "this important, significant thing."

Matthew Perry praised his Friends co-stars for rallying around him

Yes, while Matthew Perry couldn't watch "Friends" due to his past struggles, he certainly had the support of his co-stars from the hugely popular show. In fact, Perry praised the cast for how they supported him during his time on and off the show, particularly Rachel Green actor Jennifer Aniston. "She was the one that reached out the most. You know, I'm really grateful to her for that," Perry said during "Matthew Perry: The Diane Sawyer Interview," which aired on ABC in October 2022. He explained that it was Aniston who pulled him aside while they were still working together to let him know his co-stars knew he was drinking again and were worried about him.

Perry also opened up that same month about how his "Friends" co-stars rallied around him during some of his most difficult times. "[They] were understanding, and they were patient," Perry told People. "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."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).