Did Matthew Perry Get Along With His 17 Again Co-Star Zac Efron?

While Matthew Perry was most widely recognized for playing the wisecracking yet lovable Chandler Bing in "Friends," the late actor also starred in a number of popular movies including "Fools Rush In," "Three to Tango," and "The Whole Nine Yards." 

In 2009, he teamed up with Zac Efron — who had risen to fame a few years earlier as part of the "High School Musical" cast — in "17 Again." The comedy, which follows in the footsteps of films like "Big" and "13 Going on 30," centers on Mike O'Donnell, a man in his late 30s who is transformed into his teen self after a mystical encounter. Perry plays the older, dispirited Mike, while Efron portrays the younger version of the protagonist.

While Efron developed an endearing bond with his co-star Perry while they worked on the film, the young actor was initially uncertain about taking on the role, telling Tribute Movies: "I'm like ... 'What on earth makes you think I am up for the challenge of playing a 37-year-old? It was weird. I didn't enjoy the concept at first." He was won over by the script, though, and did a commendable job playing an adult trapped in the body of a teenager. His convincingness was aided by his relationship with Perry, who helped him prepare for the role. 

Matthew Perry and Zac Efron had great chemistry

In an interview with MTV News, Zac Efron shared some kind words about his co-star. He noted that he and Matthew Perry spent a lot of time rehearsing for "17 Again." "Matthew was always available to hang out and kind of work with me on the part. So, yeah, we kind of did become friends," he said. When asked if he studied the actor's idiosyncrasies by watching "Friends," Efron gave the sitcom star a big compliment. "He's got incredible timing." As for his preparation, Efron explained that he was already well-acquainted with the '90s show. "Hanging out with Matthew was probably the most valuable thing that I did. He's got some very classic mannerisms," he shared.

Perry and Efron's playful dynamic was evident through various clips featuring the stars. In one promo video, the two jokingly mocked each other in regard to their roles in "17 Again." Efron teased, "I don't really think I'm gonna look like you when I get older." Perry replied, "Well, sort of. I mean, we have different hair though. Your hair's kinda weird." Efron then encouraged him to follow suit, saying, "It's good for the ladies."

In an interview for "Max 60 Seconds" in which Perry asked Efron a series of rapid fire questions, the pair's chemistry was palpable, as well as their shared sense of humor. When Perry asked Efron about playing a young version of him, Efron remarked, "You have a very distinct smile," and imitated his unique expression.

Matthew Perry wanted Zac Efron to play him again

Matthew Perry and Zac Efron had a great relationship while filming "17 Again" which Perry recalled more than a decade later. Despite their camaraderie, though, the "High School Musical" star turned down an opportunity from Perry to work together again. In the last year of Perry's life before his tragic death, he appeared on SiriusXM's "Pop Culture Spotlight with Jessica Shaw." In the interview, Perry talked about a screenplay he wrote and hoped to direct. He shared, "I have a small part in it. I wrote it for myself, and then realized I'm 20 years too old to play this." He revealed that Efron was his ideal choice for the lead in his romantic comedy. But, unfortunately, the actor said no.

This wasn't the only time Perry brought up the idea of Efron playing him. In a conversation at New York City's Town Hall (via The Hollywood Reporter), Perry revealed his casting picks if his 2022 tell-all memoir "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing" was made into a film. "I would play me after the coma, after that part of my life. The five months in the hospital," he shared. As for the casting of a young Perry, the "Friends" star envisioned Efron in the role.