Fans of the beloved sitcom Friends were elated when the official trailer dropped to promote the highly-anticipated reunion special, however, that joy quickly turned to shock and dismay as troubled actor Matthew Perry appeared to be slurring his words with a vacant look on his face in a promo clip.
In the video, released Wednesday, May 19, Perry — who has had a long public struggle with addiction — was slurring his words and staring off into the distance.
Perry craved fame from a young age. "There was a steam coming out of my ears, I wanted to be famous so badly," he admitted to the New York Times in 2002. "You want the attention, you want the bucks, and you want the best seat in the restaurant."
His dream became a reality when he landed the role of the handsome, quirky Chandler Bing on Friends in 1994. The sitcom propelled him to the top of the A-list — with the cast earning over $1 million an episode in the final few seasons — but underneath his witty persona, the actor was harboring a dark secret.
Perry has been open about his struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism and how it caused him to completely erase bits of his past from his memory. "I don’t remember three years of it," Perry revealed in a BBC interview, referring to his time on Friends. "I was a little out of it at the time — somewhere between seasons three and six."
A fluke jet ski accident in 1997, sent the actor on a downward spiral after he was prescribed Vicodin to numb the pain. "It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it," he said in a 2002 interview. “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," Perry said, who lost around 20 pounds, which became noticeable on the NBC sitcom.
His first stint in rehab was in Minnesota where he stayed for 28 days, but the sobriety didn’t last. In 2000, he relapsed and ended up spending several weeks in the hospital for pancreatitis, caused by alcohol abuse. "Unfortunately," Perry told People, “that still wasn’t enough to get me to quit drinking."
Perry decided an intervention was necessary after he was drinking vodka by the quart in 2001 and showing up to set hungover and unable to properly do his work. "It was scary, I didn’t want to die," he explained. "But I’m grateful for how bad it got. It only made me more adamant about trying to get better."
The Fools Rush In star spent two-and-a-half months in treatment and his life was changed forever. In 2013, Perry converted his Malibu, California mansion into Perry House — a sober living facility for men. Ultimately the facility closed after he sold the property in 2015.
Perry spent many years laying low and staying clean, although the recent interview where he is slurring his words has fans worried he may have fallen off the wagon.
Following the release of the Friends reunion trailer, people swarmed social media to voice their concern for the 51-year-old actor. “Man. I just watched some clips from the Friends reunion, and everyone looks great . . . except Matthew Perry, aka Chandler. He looks and sounds like they carried him out of an alley and propped him up. Just lifeless and slurring a bit. I'm worried for the guy,” a user wrote via Twitter.
While another commented: “I pray Matthew Perry is okay he seem to have a tough time getting through that interview slurring his words.”
During the Friends reunion, which was held at the show's original soundstage, Stage 24, in Burbank, Calif., the cast performs a table read of the classic episode "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" — when the gang learns that Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Perry) are dating — and tackle the big question: "Were Ross and Rachel on a break?"
The non-scripted celebration, hosted by late-night host James Corden, of the NBC 10-season series premieres on HBO Max on Thursday, May 27.