Brown spoke with ET’s Nischelle Turner on Sunday — one day after Perry’s death at his home in Los Angeles at age 54 — and she opened up about her memories of spending time with the comic actor on the set of their sitcom, The Odd Couple.
Brown said she was “heartbroken” by the news of Perry’s untimely death, and has spent the past few hours reliving moments from their time together, and going through old photographs.
“The first thing, when someone passes, you immediately go through your pictures like you wanna remember moments, and so I scrolled back to a lot of the pictures that I had from when we worked together,” Brown shared. “Just so many memories came pouring back about how kind he was.”
Perry’s pervasive kindness and generosity is one element of his personality that has stood out for Brown.
“There’s been so much talk about his comedy, and his ability to lighten loads with his gift. But his greatest gift was his heart,” Brown said. “He did not take himself seriously. He realized that he was extraordinarily blessed.”
Looking back, Brown reflected on the last time she communicated with Perry, which was when his candid and revealing memoir — Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing — came out last November.
“I sent him a text to congratulate him because one of his greatest joys later in life was that he was able to help people who had been where he was,” Brown shared. “I was so proud of him for his sobriety. I was so proud of him for being as vulnerable as he was in his book.”
Brown explained that being able to be candid and open with people about your inner demons is extraordinarily difficult — especially when you’re a public figure.
“To admit that you’re sad, or to admit that you’re struggling, or to admit that you’re an addict, and you’ve fallen off the wagon, is very difficult,” Brown shared. “On The Odd Couple, when we were working with Matthew, we had a front row seat to his struggles, and we loved him, and we wanted to protect him, and we did the best we could while we were working with him.”
Matthew Perry with his 'Odd Couple' co-stars Yvette Nicole Brown and Lindsay Sloane. – Vincent Sandoval/WireImage
“For him to come out and admit where he was at that time, to apologize to those his addiction, and to then vow to use what he’s learned to help someone else get over it, was everything. It was everything,” Brown added.
One particular memory that stood out for Brown, when thinking back about their time together on the sitcom — which ran for three seasons from 2015-2017 — happened “towards the beginning of us working together.”
“I still don’t remember why, but Matthew needed a ride home from set. And I was like, ‘I’ll do it.’ And I got to ride with him for like 40 minutes and we just talked about life and he told me about growing up and his career and what he’s learned and what he learned through addiction,” Brown recalled. “And I will hold that special conversation I had with him when we first met close to my heart for the rest of my life. Because I feel like I got a taste of who he really really was, and it was just me and him in my little Volvo.”
“He was lovely,” an emotional Brown shared. “He was really lovely.”
Ultimately, Brown explained that one main reason she wanted to speak out about Perry and share her memories of the actor was that she hoped it would “[humanize] him beyond his struggles.”
“[I hope] that people can see the man behind the comedic legend. And that we can celebrate that his hope and joy was helping others to survive what he fought for most of his life,” Brown said. “I hope he’s remembered as a fighter. I hope he’s remembered as someone that never gave up hope. I hope that he is remembered as… a friend.”
“Because he really was,” she added. “He was a pal. He was a buddy. He was a good time. He was a vibe. You know? So I hope that when people think of him, they’ll smile.”
Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images
Captain Scot Williams of the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division told ET on Sunday, “The Robbery-Homicide Division is handling the death investigation involving Matthew Perry and foul play is not suspected at this time.”
Capt. Williams added, “I will not comment on what was or was not recovered at the scene, as the investigation is ongoing.”
However, he stated that the “LA County Medical Examiner has conducted the autopsy, but Mr. Perry’s cause of death determination has been deferred, pending the toxicology results.”
On Sunday, the late actor’s family released a statement mourning their loss.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother,” the unnamed family members said in their statement to People. “Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend.”
Thanking those who have honored Matthew’s life and legacy, the statement continued, “You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love.”
Perry never married but was briefly engaged to Molly Hurwitz for six months in 2021. He is survived by his mother, Suzanne Marie Morrison, and his father, John Bennett Perry.