The Whirlwind Story Of How Matthew Perry Landed Friends

Divine intervention played a part in Matthew Perry landing his iconic role as Chandler Bing on "Friends" — one-sixth of the show's central ensemble. 

While favorite characters vary significantly among the show's devoted fans, Chandler was undeniably one of the show's funniest additions. Ranker, for example, positioned Chandler as fans' favorite character. Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani, came in second. Perry fared slightly worse with NPR, who placed Chandler as the show's second-best character. He lost out to Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow).

Regardless of where Chandler ranks on fans' personal lists, there's no denying "Friends" was better because Perry decided to audition for the show, to which he immediately felt connected. "When I read the script ... it was as if someone had followed me around for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, photocopying my world-weary yet witty view of life," Perry revealed in his memoir, "Friends, Lovers, and The Big Terrible Thing" (via Business Insider). "It wasn't that I thought I could play 'Chandler,' I was Chandler." But this isn't exactly the beginning of Perry's whirlwind audition story.

Matthew Perry prayed to become famous

Matthew Perry's acting career started with a prayer. In "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing," Perry recalled praying to become famous mere weeks before auditioning for the part of Chandler Bing. Perry asked for spiritual help after he read an article about Charlie Sheen's latest bout of trouble. "I remember thinking, Why does he care — he's famous," he shared in his memoir (via Business Insider). Then he dropped to his knees and prayed for fame. "God, you can do whatever you want to me," Perry wrote. "Just please make me famous." After that, Perry landed "Friends," kickstarting his successful career. Because of his arduous addiction journey, Perry believed God honored his entire prayer.

While promoting his memoir, Perry spoke to Sirius XM about his thought process at the time. Interestingly, Perry revealed that his prayer for fame was his first time praying in his entire life. "What was interesting is that the first time I prayed — and it was the first time — it was like a prayer of a 14 year old, and I was 24 or something like that. And I'd just read that some celebrity I don't remember who was in trouble and I thought to myself, 'He doesn't care he's famous.'" Then he prayed. "Three weeks later I got 'Friends,' and God didn't forget the first part of the prayer," added Perry. 

Perry would later pray for God to save his life from addiction. "And that was answered, as well."

Matthew Perry wanted to give up his fame

Landing "Friends" brought Matthew Perry the fame and wealth for which he'd prayed. However, Perry also dealt with addiction for the majority of his career. While speaking with CNN, Perry shared his candid feelings about the fact that his "Friends" co-stars never shared in his decades-long brush with addiction. "You know, the thing that always makes me cry, and I hope that I don't cry here ... is that it's not fair," Perry said in 2022 (via the New York Post). "It's not, it's not fair that I had to go through this disease while the other five didn't," he continued. "They got everything that I got. But I had to fight this thing and still have to fight this thing."

In a separate interview, Perry revealed that if he'd had the choice between addiction and fame, he would have happily traded it in. "The fact that I would trade it all to not have this disease is true," Perry told People in 2022.  "But I don't belittle how fun the experience has been on Friends. And the money was amazing." Interestingly, Perry also credited "Friends" for being his saving grace. "Just the creative experience of being on the show probably saved my life," he added.