In a November 2022 interview on the Q with Tom Power podcast, the actor who portrayed Chandler Bing for 10 years said he would like to be known not just — or even firstly — for his work on the Emmy-winning NBC show, but for who he was as a person.
“I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker,” Perry told the audience at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto during the live podcast taping.
In the same sit-down, the Go On star said his proudest accomplishment is not the show that skyrocketed him to fame in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the fellow recovering drug addicts and alcoholics who he has been able to help through their journeys.
“The best thing about me, bar none, is if somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking. Can you help me?’ I can say yes and follow up and do it,” Perry said. “And I’ve said this for a long time: when I die, I don’t want Friends to be the first thing that’s mentioned — I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned. And I’m going to live the rest of my life proving that.”
“And his paramount thing is that he wants to help people,” Perry said of how he hopes people talk about him after his death. “That’s what I want.”
At the time, the actor was promoting his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, which was released on Nov. 1, 2022. In the book, Perry talked openly about his time on Friends and his years of struggling with substance abuse.
Among the biggest bombshells to be shared in the book, the late actor wrote that in the season 7 finale of Friends when his character wed Courteney Cox‘s Monica Gellar, he was “driven back to the treatment center… in a pickup truck helmed by a sober technician.”
“[I was] at the height of my highest point in Friends, the highest point in my career, the iconic moment on the iconic show,” he wrote. “When you’re a drug addict, it’s all math. I wasn’t doing it to feel high or to feel good. I certainly wasn’t a partyer; I just wanted to sit on my couch, take five Vicodin and watch a movie. That was heaven for me.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Perry said he “probably spent $9 million or something” over the course of more than a decade in an effort to get sober and went to rehab some 15 times.
Throughout the years that he battled addiction, Perry endured a bout with pneumonia, an exploded colon, two weeks in a coma, nine months with a colostomy bag, and more than a dozen stomach surgeries, he told the Times in an October 2022 interview.
He was celebrating 18 months sober when he talked with the outlet about his then-upcoming memoir and noted that by the time he was 49 years old, he realized he had spent half of his life weaving in and out of treatment and sober living facilities.
His devotion to helping others with the same addiction he faced prompted him to at one point open a sober living home at his former Malibu mansion, dubbed the Perry House. The business closed in 2015 due to the high operating costs, he told the Hollywood Reporter.
Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Perry died on Saturday at the age of 54. According to The Los Angeles Times, the actor was found dead in a hot tub.
He is survived by his mother, Suzanne Marie Morrison, and his father, John Bennett Perry.