Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is the unapologetic memoir by the Friends star Matthew Perry. In it, the actor reveals candid details about his acting career, his high-profile relationships, his long journey with addiction, and everything in between.
Perry details the highs and lows of his journey in the spotlight in the revelatory and harrowing autobiography. This book is a definite must-read for 90s pop-culture fans.
Here are the biggest revelations and stories from Matthew Perry’s memoir.
When Justin Trudeau gets punched in the head
Perry’s father abandons his family when he is nine months old to go to California and become an actor. His mother begins working as a press aide to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father), remarries, and relocates to Toronto. Perry, then ten, begins acting out, smoking, failing classes, and even beating up Justin Trudeau.
Perry, then 15, moves to Hollywood, hoping to reunite with his father. Perry decides to pursue acting as a career. Even at his lowest, he loved being the class clown. He adopts his father’s drinking habits, describing it as “the best part of his day.”
Perry is no fan of Keanu Reeves
One day, Perry is spotted in a diner charming some young women and is approached by a man to be in his next film. The man is William Richert, and the film is River Phoenix’s A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon. They become firm friends, and he mourns Phoenix’s death seven years later.
“Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?” Perry ponders. He later apologized and stated that he chose a name at random.
From baggage handlers to Chandler Bing
Perry has had a few roles by 24 and is desperate for fame. When Perry receives the script for the upcoming series Friends Like Us, he is immediately taken by one character’s “world-weary yet witty view of life.”
The issue is that Perry has already committed to a terrible science fiction comedy about baggage handlers at LAX in 2194. Fortunately, the show is canceled, and he is cast as Chandler within a week.
The Friends era
Perry recalls feeling electricity from the first table read for Friends. Not only are all six stars young and attractive, but they are also genuinely funny. Perry pitches jokes daily for every character, and they are used often. Perry’s historical crush on Jennifer Aniston, whom he had asked out and been rejected by, vanishes due to the show’s fame and her lack of interest.
Courtship and faxes with Julia Roberts
Perry learns that the success he prayed for comes with pressure as Friends quickly gains popularity. Julia Roberts, the world’s biggest star, has agreed to appear in Friends on the condition that she appears in Perry’s storyline.
A strange courtship develops, leading to daily faxes. They eventually become romantically involved and begin dating for a while. Until Perry, terrified of being dumped, breaks up with Roberts first.
From jet skiing to rehab
Perry gets into a jet ski accident while filming Fools Rush In and is given Vicodin for the pain. After surviving, he orders more pills, and within 18 months, he is taking 55 a day. Perry is filming the third season of Friends while not eating or drinking and constantly vomiting – all without anyone’s knowledge.
Perry enters rehab at the age of 26.
The Friends cast rallies around Perry
Perry, now 30, continues drinking. One day at a table read, Perry is disastrously afflicted by the combination of medication and alcohol. His co-stars rally behind him until he recovers. Years later, when Friends’ final episode is being filmed, Perry is emotionless while the cast, crew, and audience are in tears.
The struggle continues
Perry manages to go without alcohol for up to two years after hitting rock bottom. This is followed by a six-year relationship and several shorter ones. In 2019, Perry emerged from a two-week coma. He finds it challenging to quit smoking.
Perry underwent surgery in January 2022. He is single and filled with regret. And yet he admits, “at this point in my life, the words of gratitude pour out of me because I should be dead, and yet somehow I am not.”