Matthew Perry was once one of television’s most beloved actors. For ten years, from 1994 to 2004, he played the unforgettably sarcastic Chandler Bing on the hit NBC sitcom Friends, a role that snagged him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2002. He later followed up on his small screen success with the shows Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Mr. Sunshine, and Go On — not to mention films like The Whole Nine Yards and Serving Sara. But while Perry’s pockets were likely lined with lots of cash, his private life was secretly falling apart.
From an addiction to prescription pills and several trips to rehab to health issues and surprising scandals, Perry’s Hollywood life hasn’t been all red carpets and applause. In fact, his real-life story has been downright tragic. Keep reading to learn all about the actor’s off-screen troubles that have, unfortunately, spanned decades.
A jet ski accident started his spiral
Perry’s initial spiral out of control had nothing to do with hard-partying in Hollywood. According to People, the star suffered a jet ski accident 1997 and became addicted to prescribed Vicodin.
“‘Here, take this,'” he remembers the doctors telling him. “I did and I felt better than I ever felt in my entire life. I had a big problem with pills and alcohol, and I couldn’t stop.”
Things were further complicated by the success of Friends. “I was on Friends from age 24 to 34,” Perry said. “I was in the white-hot flame of fame. The six of us were just everywhere all the time. From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism. It was going on before Friends, but it’s a progressive disease. I wasn’t a massive party guy. I wasn’t a bull-in-a-china-shop kind of drinker.”
He went to rehab multiple times
In 1997, Perry made his first trip to rehab to try to kick his pill habit. According to People, he stayed 28 days at Minnesota’s Hazelden Foundation rehabilitation center. The following year he told the magazine, “I don’t think there’s anything in the world that I can’t face, having faced that,” he said. “That was the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. You get a whole new respect for yourself and life when you go through something that difficult.”
He returned to rehab a second time 2001, reported ABC News. “Matthew has every intention of completing his treatment so that he can continue his dream of entertaining people and making them laugh,” his publicist said in a statement. “He appreciates everyone’s concern and thanks them for respecting his privacy.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Perry’s second trip caught NBC off guard as Friends was in production, but network officials would not disclose if his treatment affected the filming schedule.