Friends star Matthew Perry has died at age 54 after an apparent drowning, a representative for the actor confirmed to NBC News. The actor was reportedly found dead at a Los Angeles-area home after first responders received an emergency call, according to TMZ.
A later report from CNN confirmed services were called at 4:07 p.m. local time to conduct water rescue, with police forces joining soon after. The next day, the Los Angeles coroner’s office released its first report on Perry, saying his cause of death had been “deferred.” This typically means that an autopsy has been completed, but the examiner has requested additional investigation into his death.
Perry is most famous for his work playing Chandler Bing on Friends, which ran from 1994 to 2004. The six-person cast, which also included Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, and Matt LeBlanc, became the basis of a television juggernaut, with each actor earning more than $1 million per episode by the final season. Together, they won the 1995 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
He received four individual Emmy nominations throughout his career: one for Friends, two for The West Wing, and one for The Ron Clark Story.
Perry’s film career included the 1997 movie Fools Rush In, which co-starred Salma Hayek and also featured his father, John Bennett Perry; the 2000 movie The Whole Nine Yards with Bruce Willis; and 2009’s 17 Again with Zac Efron.
Courteney Cox Arquette as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green.NBC/NBCUniversal/Getty Images
Despite his success on Friends, Perry described feeling insecure about his comedic ability. “To me, I felt like I was going to die if they didn’t laugh,” he told his castmates during Max’s Friends: The Reunion special in 2021. “It’s not healthy, for sure. But I would sometimes say a line and they wouldn’t laugh and I would sweat and just go into convulsions. If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out.”
Regardless, his cast members often lauded his skills. “I love that guy,” LeBlanc said in 2016 during a Television Critics Association press tour. “I could not see him for five years, and then put me in a room with him, and it will be like I saw him yesterday. We still have this shorthand with one another. It’s amazing, really. Ten years in a building with no windows, with the door locked, we got to know each other pretty well.”
“When I worked with him on Friends, he literally gave me my personality for 10 years,” Cox said during a 2014 appearance on Conan.
Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox mingle at the AFI Associates luncheon on May 10, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California.Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Perry was most recently engaged to literary manager Molly Hurwitz but called off the engagement in June 2021. “Sometimes things just don’t work out and this is one of them,” he said in a statement to People. “I wish Molly the best.” He previously dated Baywatch star Yasmine Bleeth and, briefly, Julia Roberts, around the time she guest-starred on Friends.
“Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me. I had been constantly certain that she was going to break up with me. Why would she not? I was not enough; I could never be enough; I was broken, bent, unlovable,” he wrote in his memoir. “So instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts.”
Matthew Perry and actress Julia Roberts hug each other on the set of Friends.Getty Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Perry was also open about his history with substance abuse. In 2022, he told the New York Times that he spent “$9 million or something trying to get sober,” explaining that he was newly drug- and alcohol-free while filming the Friends reunion.
In his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry spoke at length about how the cast supported him during his struggle with addiction. “It’s like penguins,” he told People at the time. “Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up. They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That’s kind of what the cast did for me.”
“I love Matthew a lot,” Kudrow told the New York Times in 2022. “We’re part of a family. I’m basically ending this with ‘I’ll be there for you’ [the Friends theme song], but it’s true. I’ll always be there for him.”
Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, but spent most of his childhood in Canada, where he went to school alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is survived by his parents, John Bennett and Suzanne Perry, and five siblings, Mia Perry, and Willy, Emily, Madeleine, and Caitlin Morrison.