Actor and TV star Mathew Perry received a standing ovation at the start of his live-action story and delved into his childhood, critical success and the challenges of coping with addiction in the promotion of his recently released memoir.
Perry said his goal of finishing writing “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” was to ensure his sobriety would remain “safe,” while also providing hope to help other people in need. struggling with the serious nature of the addiction. The live interview marked the third of four stops on Perry’s book tour and was conducted by New York Times reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro last week at the Warner Theater downtown.
Perry rose to fame playing the sarcastic yet sweet role of Chandler Bing on the hit sitcom “Friends,” but starred on camera as early as 1991 during an appearance in the original “90210.” He landed two Emmy nominations for his dramatic portrayal of White House associate attorney Joe Quincy, a conservative lawyer who stood in stark contrast to the liberal employees of “The West Wing,” while silently suffering from his double life as a fame and addiction.
“I knew how I wanted to start, which was that horrible night of my life,” Perry said of the start of her book. “I almost died. I wanted to tell this story and how I got out of it and how my resilience and my strength that I didn’t really know was there and I was able to improve enough to be here.
Before diving deeper into the conversation about ‘the great and terrible thing’, Perry opened up about growing up in the shadow of his accomplished parents – actor John Bennett and the former Canadian Prime Minister’s press secretary. Pierre Trudeau Suzanne Perry – and his struggle growing up with divorced parents, who separated when he was just one year old. Perry said the original title of his memoir was to be ‘Unaccompanied Minor’, in reference to his frequent flights to Los Angeles to visit his father alone when he was five and how he found solace. gazing at the view of the city from a distance as he internalizes reuniting with a soon to be relative.
Continuing the conversation about his complex filial relationships, Perry said his affinity for acting stemmed from a desire for parental attention, even when it came to basic needs.
“I got funny because my mom didn’t give me the attention I needed, sometimes cried, didn’t feed me,” Perry said. “When I made her laugh or joke or fall or whatever was funny, she was there and laughed and gave me dinner, which I really wanted.”
Perry and Garcia-Navarro shifted the discussion to Perry’s first encounter with alcohol and drugs and his subsequent descent into the “linear” nature of addiction, which he describes as only getting worse as he grew older. it continues. Perry said he felt all his problems go away when he drank an entire bottle of wine during his first alcohol tasting at the age of 14 – a feeling he thought “people normal” often experienced.
“Nothing was wrong, fighting with my mom, being, feeling lonely, none of that,” Perry said. “I was just looking at the clouds, and everything disappeared and I felt wonderful.”
Perry said his early career experience as a young actor struggling to make it big in Los Angeles further normalized the drinking culture and party life of the 1980s, referring to his association with actor Hank Azaria. and the Brat Pack – a group of famous actor friends – in his book. As his addiction continued, Perry said he always knew “something was wrong” as he continued to drink heavily even during the heights of his life, which drove him to keep his “secret” struggles.
“In this, my greatest moments, I would say, in the back of my head, ‘why,’ and I say that in the book, ‘Why? Why can’t I stop drinking? Julia Roberts is your girlfriend! Why can’t I stop drinking? What’s wrong?” Perry said. “It wasn’t until years later that I found out this that was happening.”
When asked how he approached the character of Bing, Perry said he developed his cadence and line in his youth with childhood friends Brian and Christopher Murray who said things like “this teacher could he be meaner,” inspiring Bing’s sarcastic catchphrase that he eventually implemented in “Friends.” Yet even with the displays of “comic genius” and the rise in fame and success that come with Bing’s role, Perry said the “great and terrible thing” got worse as he continued to mask his dependence on his outer life.
“The hardest thing is to make all your dreams and wishes come true and not work out what’s wrong with you,” Perry said. “I had the American dream. I have everything. I am famous. I really wanted to be famous and enjoyed it for about six months. And then he fell off a cliff.
Perry recalled switching to pills to further satisfy his addiction in secret, describing the lengths he would go to to maintain his dose of 55 vicodin a day. He said he would pretend to have a headache to get prescriptions for pills and would attend various open houses to steal pills from medicine cabinets. Perry said his addiction was a “two-pronged disease”, torn between mental obsession and a physical “allergy” in his quest to satiate himself.
Perry finally said that “the great and terrible thing” became visible from the outside for his “Friends” costars, recalling that Jennifer Aniston first approached him privately out of concern because she and others cast and crew members could smell the alcohol on him. Then, at one point, he said that 40 cast and crew members confronted him in his trailer and told him to “seek help”, which he would agree to in the moment, but he knew he couldn’t help himself with his “fear”. addiction-based. He said that while the people working on the show told him to get help, they left the responsibility to him while prioritizing the continued production of the “money-making machine”. from “Friends”.
Perry said he had to “lock himself up” by going to rehab a total of 14 times when he felt fear take over. The actor, who hasn’t had a drink since 2005, said he felt a desire to live and wanted to experience as much humanity as possible, which sustained his perseverance.
“I got scared and thought if I keep doing this I’m going to die,” Perry said. “And I don’t want to die because I haven’t learned everything about this earth yet. And I want to learn. I want love. I want to have a child.
Perry said a conversation with a spiritual leader during one of his first visits to rehab at age 26 helped him internalize the nature of addiction as a disease and understand that his addiction doesn’t was never under his control.
“He said, ‘It’s not your fault this happened to you,'” Perry said. “And I went, what?” What are you talking about? And this is the first time I’ve heard that. »
As Perry neared the end of his story, he shared some words of wisdom with the audience who reiterated his message of relentless perseverance for anyone struggling with “the great and terrible thing.”
“You can go that low on the scale and you can always come back,” Perry said. ” Do not abandon. It’s not a death sentence unless you let it.