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‘Friends’ used to be too painful to watch for Matthew Perry. Now he’s changed his mind

A man in clear glasses smiling and wearing a dark shirt and blazer
Matthew Perry at the 2022 GQ Men of the Year party in West Hollywood in November.
(Willy Sanjuan / Invision / Associated Press)
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Former “Friends” star Matthew Perry says he can’t bear to watch himself in the hit comedy — and it has nothing to do with the show.

For Perry, 53, the Emmy-winning sitcom served as a reminder of his long battle with addiction and alcoholism, he recently said in a conversation with CBC’s Tom Power.

“I didn’t watch the show and haven’t watched the show because I could go ‘drinking, opiates, drinking, cocaine,’” Perry said in the live interview. “Like I could tell season-by-season how I looked.”

Perry’s interview with CBC came more than a month after he published his memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing” in October. In his debut book, Perry reflected on portraying Chandler Bing on “Friends,” his romance with Julia Roberts and more.

The memoir also detailed his experiences with addiction and sobriety.

Perry told Power that “alcoholism did not care that I was on ‘Friends.’” Alcohol, however, wasn’t Perry’s only vice during his time on the comedy, which ran from 1994 to 2004.

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“I was taking 55 Vicodin a day, I weighed 128 pounds, I was on ‘Friends’ getting watched by 30 million people and that’s why I can’t watch the show — because I was, like, brutally thin and being beaten down so badly by the disease,” he said.

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To help overcome his addiction and mental health issues, Perry checked into a number of facilities. In 1997 he entered the Hazelden Betty Ford treatment center in Minnesota, where he learned key information for his road to recovery.

Perry told Power that a so-called “spiritual guy” at the facility reminded him that his addiction wasn’t his fault.

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“It wasn’t my will that was screwed up. It was that I have this disease and I need to get help,” the actor said.

Decades after his time in Hazelden, Perry said he’s made some progress. According to his memoir, the actor has been “mostly sober” since 2001 — despite a handful of “mishaps” — and is looking forward to finding out why he’s “still here” despite several near-death experiences.

He shared with CBC that he’s even open to revisiting “Friends” with a new perspective.

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“I’m gonna start to watch it because it really [was] ... an incredible ride, but it’s been an incredible thing to watch it touch the hearts of different generations,” he said.

“I’ve been too worried about this. I wanna watch ‘Friends’ too.”

In May 2021, Perry recently appeared alongside co-stars David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc for the “Friends: The Reunion” on HBO Max.


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