Matthew Perry nearly missed out on ‘Friends’ role that changed his life

Millions of people around the world know Matthew Perry’s face thanks to his career-defining role as Chandler Bing on Friends, but the role is at risk of being given to someone else. By the way.

Perry, who died of unknown causes at the age of 54 last weekend at her home in Los Angeles, detailed the story in her 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Scary Thing.” As he explained, he was initially unable to audition for “Friends” because he was attached to another show at the time.

In 1994, he was 24 years old and struggling with his acting career, he wrote, “Slowly but surely by drinking, I started winning battles with auditions, and no one was interested in me anyway.” They didn’t bring it,” he explained.

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Matthew Perry appeared on “Friends” in 1994. (Reisig & Taylor/NBCU Photobank/NBC Universal)

She said her manager told her she was receiving “daily feedback” during auditions that she “looked like a mess” and that her business manager told her she was broke. In desperation, he contacted his agent and told him, “I needed something, something, a job. It had to be the time.”

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From there, Perry landed the lead role in the pilot of a show called “LAX 2194.” Perry described the show as a “sci-fi comedy” about baggage handlers at Los Angeles Airport. The plan was for this show to be set 200 years into the future, to feature aliens as travelers, and for little people to play the aliens.

Matthew Perry in 1992

Matthew Perry was initially unable to audition for Friends in 1992 because he was already working on a show called LAX 2194. (Ron Galera Co., Ltd./Ron Galera Collection)

“All of this may sound overwhelming, but know that it was much worse than that,” he joked in his memoir.

It wasn’t until he officially accepted the role that his script for a new sitcom, then titled “Friends Like Us,” started to get a lot of attention. Perry read the script and wanted to be a part of it, so he called his agent again and begged to be allowed to audition. However, they told him that was not possible as he was already involved in “LAX 2194”.

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“I am devastated,” he wrote. “When I read the script for ‘Friends Like Us,’ it was like someone had been following me for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, trying to be as worldly and witty as I was.” It was like I was copying his outlook on life. One character in particular stood out to me.”: I didn’t expect to play Chandler; I was Chandler. ”

This is a photo of the cast of "friend"

Matthew Perry ended up appearing on “Friends,” which he said saved his life. (John Ragell/NBCU Photobank/NBCUniversal)

It seems he wasn’t the only one who thought so. He further stated that some friends had seen Chandler’s character and it reminded them of Chandler, so he asked for help with the audition. Perry said that he sometimes even read the script himself and told his friends to imitate his portrayal. All this time, he kept calling his agent, but he was still anxious to get involved himself.

Eventually, his friend and fellow actor Craig Bierko was offered the role of Chandler, but he also had another offer to appear on the show “Best Friends.” Despite Bielko’s own desire to take on the role, Perry advised him to go on “Friends Like Us,” but Bielko chose another show, still keeping his dream role. .

Craig Bierko Photos

Craig Bierko was originally offered the role of Chandler Bing. (Ron Galera/Ron Galera Collection)

Perry said that ultimately, a producer from NBC, the network that produced “Friends,” approached her husband, a producer at the network that produced “LAX 2194,” to see if Perry could appear on the show. He said he asked if it would be featured. Her husband said it wouldn’t happen, and it didn’t, but a few days later Ms. Perry got a call to meet with the show’s legendary creator, Marta Kaufman.

He writes about how he went through multiple auditions before finally being cast in the role of Chandler.

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Claiming the work “saved my life”, Perry wrote: He continued to shoot heroin into his arm on the streets of downtown LA, eventually leading to his premature death. ”

cast of "friend" sitting in front of the fountain

Perry was 24 years old when he appeared on this series. (NBC)

If you’re a fan of Friends, you know that the cast members are close in real life. “The best way to describe it is after the show, at a party or something,” Perry said during the 2021 “Max” reunion. ”

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He added: “You apologized to the people you were with, but you needed them to understand that you had met someone special to you and that you were going to talk to them for the rest of the night. And it worked,” he added.

Friends cast eating ice cream

“Friends” focused on the lives of six young people living in Manhattan. (NBC)

Following the news of Matthew’s death, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer released a joint statement to People magazine, saying, “Matthew’s death leaves us all completely devastated. We are devastated. We were more than just cast mates. “We are a family, and while we have so much to say, we will now take time to grieve and process this unfathomable loss. .”


“In due course, we will say more as we are able. For now, our thoughts and love are with Matty’s family, his friends and everyone who loved him around the world. ”

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