Matthew Perry wanted it to be more than simple friends with one of his co-stars on the NBC mega-hit.
In a primetime interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that aired Friday to promote his revealing new memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Awful Thing, Perry admitted that he had a crush on co-star Jennifer Aniston. (Before years friends, Perry actually asked Aniston, but she said no.) “Well, how could you not be in love with Jenny? And Courtney [Cox]? And Lisa [Kudrow]? So it made going to work difficult because I had to pretend I didn’t have these crushes.” He even wondered if he was staring too much at Aniston while filming their scenes together: “Is three seconds too much?”
Perry also detailed the ravages a lifetime of drug and alcohol addiction had taken on him, telling Sawyer that he remembers drinking an entire bottle of wine with his friends at age 14: “I was lying in the grass and I was just in heaven. And I thought, “This must be the way normal people feel all the time.” Until he was 18, he drank every day and hoped that his breakthrough friends The role of sarcastic prankster Chandler Bing could serve as a cure for his addiction. But the pressure of a huge hit only pushed him deeper into drinking.
Perry told Sawyer that he didn’t give up while on friends set: “I made it a rule that I would never drink or take anything to work… but I’d get a blind hangover. Like shaking and a crazy hangover. Aniston confronted him about his drinking, telling him they could smell the alcohol on him. He turned to prescription painkillers after a jet ski accident, eventually taking up to 55 Vicodin pills a day. To get them, he explained, he used “a bunch of doctors, fake migraines, all that stuff,” even going to real estate open houses just to go through their medicine cabinets and steal their pills.
While filming in 2002 Serving Sarah, Perry was so high on vodka, Xanax, and methadone that they had to stop production and have him dub his dialogue later because he was slurring his words so much. He drove back and forth to friends from a rehab center, including when Chandler married Monica: “I was driven in a big blue pickup truck to marry Monica from a treatment center.” Looking back on old episodes of friends Perry now said she could tell what substance he was abusing at the time based on how he looked: “When I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol. When I’m low, it’s pills.” He cringed as he looked at one friends a scene with Sawyer where he was especially weak: “I feel sorry for that guy. Because this is a person who is out of control.
During his struggles, though, Aniston always checked in on him, Perry revealed, “She was the one who stretched the most… I’m really grateful for that.”