Why Matthew Perry Brought A Sense Of Unease To The Friends Reunion

The cast of "Friends" finally gave fans what they'd been asking for for years when they reunited for "Friends: The Reunion" special, which began streaming on HBO Max on May 27. Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, and Matthew Perry all seemed pretty happy to be back together as they celebrated the iconic sitcom, but the latter is being accused of making things a little uneasy.

The special one-off episode revealed a number of things we never knew about the show and its cast, as well as some touching moments with famous faces. David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston dropped the bombshell that they almost followed the path of Ross and Rachel and got together offscreen, while Lady Gaga made a special appearance to perform "Smelly Cat" with Kudrow in character as Phoebe Buffay in Central Perk. In another behind the scenes titbit, LeBlanc opened up about an incident that happened while filming one of the show's most memorable episodes that saw him dislocate his shoulder.

But why exactly is Perry being called out for his role in the reunion after fans previously picked up on his slurred speech in the special's trailer? Scroll on for the details.

Matthew Perry's past struggles weren't explicitly addressed during the Friends reunion

As the reviews came in for "Friends: The Reunion" special, one journalist claimed Matthew Perry's past made things a little uncomfortable. Variety's Caroline Framke noted the show didn't "discuss any of his troubled experience explicitly, but it nonetheless lingers around the margins with palpable unease." Perry did very briefly touch on his struggles, admitting he felt he would "die if they didn't laugh" at his scenes, which "wasn't healthy."

Perry has been open about his experience with substance abuse over the years. In 2002, he admitted to People he'd "been through a very dark time," which included a hospitalization and two visits to rehab. He confirmed there was a time in his life, since shooting to fame, that he'd take an "insane number of pills" and would drink "probably a quart of vodka a day."

But it wasn't just his troubled past that viewers touched on. Framke also noted there was a point in the show where Perry said he didn't "hear" from his castmates anymore, which didn't seem like a joke — and plenty of fans agreed. "I wanted to hear more from Matthew Perry. It was really sad to hear him say how he felt when scenes would not work out, it took a big hit at him. This should be spoken about more," one person tweeted. Another added, "When matthew perry said 'I don't hear from anyone,' that felt real."

Apparently, Matthew Perry had dental surgery the day before the reunion

Other than the awkwardness over Matthew Perry maybe-joke about "not hearing from anyone" during the "Friends: Reunion" special, it seems there might be another reason why he didn't seem like himself that day and why his slurred speech sparked lots of concern online.

According to The Sun's sources, the actor had undergone emergency dental surgery before filming the reunion — and he was reportedly in a lot of pain. "That was said to impact his wellbeing and also how he was feeling," the insider told the outlet. "He had been in pain from what we understand, which caused the slurred speech." The source added, "Obviously no one wants to film after a procedure, but it happened."

Perry also reportedly told friends that he is sober and "there is no need to worry." Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped fans from expressing their concern online, with many pointing out that the star also didn't look well during his interview with People and Entertainment Tonight. During his sit-down with ET, Perry's demeanor seems a lot more lively than he was at the reunion, however, half his mouth seems like it's been clearly affected by something.

Whether he had multiple dental procedures throughout the press tour remains unclear, but the show's director gave fans some peace of mind. 

A Friends director shared an update about Matthew Perry's health

"Friends" executive producer and director Kevin Bright discussed Matthew Perry's health with The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that the actor seems "better" than the last time they saw each other and was "excited about going forward." He said, "I talked to him. It was great seeing him again. And what people say is what people say. I don't have any[thing] to say about that, except it was great to see him. And I think he's very funny on the show. But yes, I think he's OK."

Though he didn't elaborate any further, his comments seem to reflect reports suggesting the actor is still recovering from his 2018 gastrointestinal surgery. In October 2020, his stepfather Keith Morrison — who has been married to Perry's mother, Suzanne, for nearly 40 years, told People that the operation took a big toll on Perry — especially because he was left bedridden in a hospital for three months during his recovery. 

"We were able to be with him a lot of the time through that, which was I think good for everybody," Morrison explained at the time. "It's awful when people have a serious [illness] and have to have operations and worry about whether or not they're going to make it through."

According to Healthline, "Gastrointestinal perforation (GP) occurs when a hole forms all the way through the stomach, large bowel, or small intestine" with Page Six reporting the condition can develop due to drug and alcohol abuse — something Perry has been open about in the past.

If you or anyone you know is struggling 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).