Matthew Perry has already heard from a couple of his Friends co-stars about his buzzy new book, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir, which arrived in bookstores Tuesday. In it, he describes years of struggling with an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
“Well, the book has been out for a day,” Perry deadpanned when he was asked about their responses Wednesday during a livestream from the Town Hall in New York City. “So I have heard from a couple of them, which is very nice, and I’m sure I’ll hear from everybody. But that’s the amazing thing about what’s going on with this book. It’s touching the hearts of everybody.”
Perry later said thousands of people have already come up to him, convinced that they can stop using substances because he has. He’s said that he’s now 18 months sober. During the livestream, he noted that he receives help daily.
He also answered a question about who would play him if the book is ever adapted into a movie.
The younger version of Perry would be played by none other than his co-star in the 2009 body-swapping movie 17 Again.
“Well, Zac Efron did it once,” he said.
Perry said he would take over the role later.
“I would play me after the coma and after that horrible night, five months in the hospital, then I would take over the role, I guess,” he said, referring to one of the scarier stories that have emerged from the book.
In 2018, Perry spent five months in the hospital recovering after his colon burst from opioid abuse. He was in a coma and on life support for two weeks. He had 14 surgeries. He also had to use a colostomy bag for nine months, which left him “covered in my own s***,” he estimated 50 to 60 times.
“The doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live,” Perry told People. “I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that.”
Still, he admitted to having called his drug dealer when he got home.
In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Perry also said that, at one point, he was drinking vodka by the quart and taking 55 Vicodin a day. He would obtain the latter by faking back injuries and migraine headaches — plus, he “had eight doctors going at the same time” — or simply go to open houses and rummage through medicine cabinets.
“I think they thought ‘Oh, there’s no way that Chandler stole from us,'” Perry said.
In all, Perry has said he’s spent $9 million to sober up, including countless stays in rehab and detox facilities. At one of them, a treatment center in Switzerland, where he was still taking pills, his heart stopped beating for five minutes.
Looking back on all he’s been through, Perry told Sawyer that he’s grateful for his Friends co-stars, especially Jennifer Aniston. She’s the one who “reached out the most” and even confronted him about his problem.
Perry has spoken, too, about his personal relationships over the years, including how he and Valerie Bertinelli once made out beside her then-husband, Eddie Van Halen, when he was passed out, and how he lost his virginity to Tricia Leigh Fisher, half-sister of the late Carrie Fisher, after having thought for years that he was impotent.
He also lamented the loss of River Phoenix, his co-star in A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, who died in 1993. “It always seems to be the really talented guys who go down,” he wrote. “Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?”
He’s apologized for the reference to Reeves since the excerpt surfaced, saying that he “chose a random name.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).