The death of Matthew Perry, a generational icon of the 90s and 2000s and of all those who ever watched even one of the 234 episodes of Friends, has caused a tremendous impact, both in the United States and in the rest of the world. His family, friends, ex-girlfriends, acquaintances have all sent messages of respect and condolences. But his real friends, almost siblings, as he himself said, his co-stars, remained silent. It was this Monday, almost 48 hours later, when finally Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc sent a long-awaited joint statement reflecting their immense sadness for the death of their colleague.
It was in a joint letter sent to People magazine where the five actors expressed their grief. “We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,” their statement reads. “There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.” “In time we will say more, as and when we are able,” the statement continues. “For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”
Perry worked with his five co-stars for a decade. It all started in 1994, when he was just 24 years old, and lasted until 2004, when all six were globally famous stars who were paid a million dollars per episode. The friendship they displayed on the show turned out to be genuine, especially for Perry. He always knew Friends was going to be a success, as he recounted in more than one interview, but he never imagined it would be of such magnitude. Just as he knew he was going to get along with those five little-known 20-somethings with his same ambitions and energy. But not that they were going to be almost like siblings.
As they shared in one of their long-awaited television reunions, their friendship was long-lasting, whether they saw each other more or less. If by chance two or more of them crossed paths at an event or a party, the rest of the guests could give up talking to one of them: they would sit down to chat with each other and resume that never-lost thread.
The main cast has not been the only one to say goodbye to Perry. Maggie Wheeler, who was one of his most famous girlfriends in fiction, Janice, wrote in her social media: “What a loss. The world will miss you Matthew Perry. The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.” His parents in the series have also said goodbye to him. Morgan Fairchild, who played his father, stated on X (formerly Twitter): “I’m heartbroken about the untimely death of my ‘son’, Matthew Perry. The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock. I’m sending love & condolences to his friends & family, especially his dad, John Bennett Perry, who I worked with on Flamingo Road & Falcon Crest”. His father in the show, a transsexual woman named Helena, was played by Kathleen Turner, who remembered him in an interview with People, where she acknowledged that many of the younger generation still recognize her more for the role of Chandler’s father than for her films. “It’s extremely sad when you think about how young [he was] and a pity he couldn’t get more control.”
Also the series’ creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, as well as its executive producer, Kevin Bright, have shared a statement with The Hollywood Reporter. “It still seems impossible. All we can say is that we feel blessed to have had him as part of our lives,” the statement read. “He was a brilliant talent. It’s a cliche to say that an actor makes a role their own, but in Matthew’s case, there are no truer words. From the day we first heard him embody the role of Chandler Bing, there was no one else for us. We will always cherish the joy, the light, the blinding intelligence he brought to every moment — not just to his work, but in life as well. He was always the funniest person in the room. More than that, he was the sweetest, with a giving and selfless heart. We send all of our love to his family and friends.” The authors of the series named each episode in a very similar way: The One Where..., accompanied by an anecdote of each one. And this is how they end their press release: “This truly is The One Where Our Hearts Are Broken.”
The production company Warner, which achieved absolute success thanks to Friends (so much so that it named one of its studios in Los Angeles after the series), has sent a note stating that it is “devastated” by the death of Perry, “an incredibly gifted actor and an indelible part of the Warner Bros. Television Group family”. Also the NBC network, where it aired, has stated feeling “incredibly saddened by the too soon passing” of the performer. “His legacy will live on through countless generations.”
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