Matthew Perry’s Decision: How Fear of Fan Backlash Led to Cutting a Key Friends Storyline for Chandler

Friends star Matthew Perry apparently saved Chandler and Monica from a cheating scandal that would’ve rivaled Ross and Rachel’s.

In the wake of Perry’s unexpected death at 54, one-time Friends guest star Lisa Cash revealed to TMZ that she nearly played a woman with whom Chandler was set to have an affair. But before they could film the big scene, Cash learned that Perry had convinced the show’s writers to nix the storyline entirely.

“The scene was Chandler and Monica [Courteney Cox] were arguing in Vegas about Monica having lunch with Richard [Tom Selleck],” Cash recalled, referring to the two-part season 5 finale, “The One In Vegas.” She explained that the original script involved Chandler ordering room service, which Cash, playing a hotel worker, would deliver. “We end up talking and laughing and connecting, and Chandler ends up cheating on Monica with my character.”

Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox on ‘Friends’. WARNER BROS./COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

Cash continued: “We had rehearsed it and everything, and then the day before we were shooting in front of a live audience, I was told that [Perry] went to the writers and said the audience will never forgive him for cheating on Monica, which, he was probably right. That would have changed possibly the course of the show, and of his character.”

The episode ultimately concluded with Chandler and Monica resolving their fight and planning to elope in a Las Vegas chapel. They changed their minds when they saw that Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) had beaten them to the altar in a drunken haze, though Chandler and Monica would marry in a later season.

As for Cash, she wasn’t totally cut out of the show, and instead portrayed a flight attendant who witnessed a mini prank war between Ross and Rachel. While she noted that the original cheating scene could have been a “game changer” for her career, Cash said she enjoyed working with the “quick and talented” Perry.

“I was new to the industry, and it could have been really intimidating for me ― season 5 of Friends, and a scene with Matthew Perry,” she said. “But I just felt so comfortable, and he was really likable and welcoming and just made me feel at ease. And I had fun! It was just really fun doing the scene with him.”

Cash also agreed with Perry’s decision to protest the storyline. “I think it was a good move, because they have that other thing with Ross and Rachel, ‘We were on a break,’ but Chandler and Monica weren’t on a break,” she said. “This was a decision that he was going to make to cheat on her. I mean, in the moment and everything, but I don’t think the audience could have really forgiven that.”

Perry, who played the sarcastic but sweet Chandler Bing on all 10 seasons of Friends, was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his home in Los Angeles on Oct. 28 and pronounced dead at the scene. The official cause of death is under investigation, though authorities have said that foul play is not suspected.

The actor’s death has prompted an outpouring of grief, including a joint statement from Friends costars Cox, Schwimmer, Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, and Matt LeBlanc. “We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew,” they said. “We were more than just cast mates. We are a family. There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.”

They added, “In time we will say more, as and when we are able. For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”

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