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For a decade, he was the handsome, quirky boy next door on the hit sitcom, “Friends.”
But now Matthew Perry is making fans wonder what’s become of the lovable ’90s heartthrob, as photos have emerged of the troubled actor wandering around Los Angeles looking like a slovenly, slack-jawed hobo.
The alarming new images show the 50-year-old staggering out of a restaurant Sunday in a state of disarray and sucking on a cigarette with a mystery woman.
They immediately raised questions about whether Perry, who has been candid about his years of substance abuse issues, had again fallen off the wagon.
He has a history of stints in rehab in 1997 and 2001. He once even said that he was so far removed from the height of his TV career that he doesn’t remember filming multiple seasons of “Friends.”
“I think the answer is, I don’t remember three years of it,” he told BBC Radio 2 in 2016. “So none of those … Somewhere between Season 3 and 6 … I was a little out of it.”
Growing up in Canada, the “Whole Nine Yards” star was raised with a competitive streak and a penchant for tennis. He rose in the junior rankings to No. 2 in Ottawa until relocating to LA with his father in 1984, where he ultimately turned to acting. Like any other struggling actor in the City of Angels, Perry faced a lot of rejection and worked on several failed TV shows before landing the life-changing role of Chandler Bing on “Friends,” a role he’d play from 1994 to 2004.
“All the superficial things about [fame] came true,” he told People in 2002 of the series’ success. “I was naive enough to think it would fulfill all aspects of my life.”
Then, three years after the show’s debut, Perry got into a jet ski accident that would ultimately be the start of his addiction issues, as he started to become completely dependent on painkillers.
Matthew Perry startled fans when he appeared disheveled in a recent photo.
(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
“It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it,” he said. “But from the start I liked how it made me feel, and I wanted to get more.” As his addiction escalated, “I was out of control and very unhealthy,” said Perry, who lost around 20 pounds, which became incredibly apparent on the NBC sitcom.
“I returned to my original birth weight,” he later joked.
His first rehab stint was at a facility in Minnesota, where he remained for 28 days, but the sobriety didn’t last. In 2000, Perry relapsed and ended up spending two weeks in the hospital for pancreatitis, which was caused by alcohol abuse, he said.
“Unfortunately,” Perry told People, “that still wasn’t enough to get me to quit drinking.”
FRIENDS — Pictured: (l-r) Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani.
(Photo by Jon Ragel/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Perry hit rock bottom in 2001 when he was drinking vodka by the quart and showing up to work brutally hungover and unable to function. He finally called his parents from a Dallas hotel room and asked for help.
“It was scary. I didn’t want to die,” he said. “But I’m grateful for how bad it got. It only made me more adamant about trying to get better.”
He spent two-and-a-half months in treatment and learned “that a happy life is possible without alcohol or drugs.”
The “Fools Rush In” star remained sober from thereon out, but in 2011 said he voluntarily checked back into rehab to keep his sobriety in check.
“I’m making plans to go away for a month to focus on my sobriety and to continue my life in recovery,” he said at the time. “Please enjoy making fun of me on the World Wide Web.”
Just two years later, Perry changed many lives when he converted his Malibu, Calif., home into Perry House, a sober-living facility for men that offered meditation and a 12-step workshop.
“When I die, I’d like ‘Friends’ to be listed behind helping people,” Perry said.
In 2015, Perry received the Phoenix Rising Award from the wide-reaching nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization Phoenix House and joked to The Hollywood Reporter that he was an “award-winning alcoholic.”
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life and a lot of wonderful accolades,” he told the trade publication that year, “but the best thing about me is that if an alcoholic comes up to me and says, ‘Will you help me stop drinking?’ I will say, ‘Yes. I know how to do that.’”
From left, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courtney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay in the ’90s comedy series, ‘Friends.’
The “Odd Couple” actor eventually sold the Malibu house for $10.7 million with hopes of relocating Perry House to Santa Monica, where it would’ve been cheaper to run.
“I’m keeping the business going because I like it; it’s a good way to help alcoholics,” he said.
His plan ultimately didn’t come to fruition, and he permanently closed Perry House in 2016 amid rumors he was struggling in London as he performed in the West End.
Come 2018, Perry had a health setback, though he didn’t mention substance abuse when speaking about it. In August of that year, a rep for Perry confirmed he underwent surgery to repair a gastrointestinal perforation, and the actor then tweeted in September that he’d spent three months in the hospital.
One to stay out of the spotlight, Perry didn’t truly emerge until Jennifer Aniston joined Instagram in October 2019 and he appeared in her “Friends” cast reunion photo.