Matthew Perry, who starred as sarcastic-but-sweet Chandler Bing in the hit series Friends, has died. He was 54.
The Emmy-nominated actor who was raised in Ottawa was found dead of an apparent drowning at his Los Angeles home Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times and celebrity website TMZ, which was the first to report the news. Both outlets cited unnamed sources confirming Perry’s death.
NBC News, citing an unnamed representative for the actor and a law enforcement source, reported the actor was found dead at his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.
In a statement, Warner Bros. Television Group said it is “devastated” by Perry’s passing.
“Matthew was an incredibly gifted actor and an indelible part of the Warner Bros. Television Group family,” it said. “The impact of his comedic genius was felt around the world, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of so many. This is a heartbreaking day, and we send our love to his family, his loved ones, and all of his devoted fans.”
His publicists and other representatives did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. Asked to confirm police response to what was listed as Perry’s home address, LAPD Officer Drake Madison told AP that officers had gone to that block “for a death investigation of a male in his 50s.”
Perry’s 10 seasons on Friends made him one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors, starring opposite Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer as a friend group in New York City.
As Chandler, he played the quick-witted, insecure and neurotic roommate of LeBlanc’s Joey and a close friend of Schwimmer’s Ross. By the series’ end, Chandler is married to Cox’s Monica and they have a family, reflecting the journey of the core cast from single New Yorkers to married and starting families.
“What a loss. The world will miss you Mathew Perry,” Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler’s tumultuous love interest Janice in earlier seasons, posted on Instagram. “The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.”
The series was one of television’s biggest hits and has taken on a new life — finding a surprising popularity with younger fans — in recent years on streaming services.
Friends ran from 1994 until 2004, and the cast notably banded together for later seasons to obtain a salary of $1 million US per episode for each.
Unknown at the time was the struggle Perry had with addiction and an intense desire to please audiences.
“Friends was huge. I couldn’t jeopardize that. I loved the script. I loved my co-actors. I loved the scripts. I loved everything about the show but I was struggling with my addictions, which only added to my sense of shame,” he wrote in his memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. “I had a secret and no one could know.
“I felt like I was gonna die if the live audience didn’t laugh, and that’s not healthy for sure. But I could sometimes say a line and the audience wouldn’t laugh and I would sweat and sometimes go into convulsions,” Perry wrote. “If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get I would freak out. I felt that every single night. This pressure left me in a bad place. I also knew of the six people making that show, only one of them was sick.”
An HBO Max reunion special in 2021 hosted by James Corden fed into huge interest in seeing the cast together again, although the program consisted of the actors discussing the show and was not a continuation of their characters’ storylines.
Perry received one Emmy nomination for his Friends role and two more for appearances as an associate White House counsel on The West Wing.
Perry also had several notable film roles, starring opposite Salma Hayek in the rom-com Fools Rush In and Bruce Willis in the the crime comedy The Whole Nine Yards.
‘Thanks for all the laughs,’ says Trudeau
The Massachusetts-born actor grew up in Ottawa after his mother, a Canadian journalist who once served as press secretary to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, divorced Perry’s father and married a Canadian broadcast personality.
Perry would later claim that he and his friends “beat up” classmate Justin Trudeau during his time in Ottawa.
Matthew Perry’s passing is shocking and saddening. I’ll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Thanks for all the laughs, Matthew. You were loved – and you will be missed.
“I think he was excelling at a sport that we weren’t, so it was pure jealousy. And, you know, we beat him up,” the actor recounted during a 2017 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
Trudeau later challenged Perry to a rematch in a 2017 April Fools’ Day tweet, which he declined by joking about the prime minister having an army at his disposal.
At the age of 15, Perry moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and improvisational comedy.