The Director of the ‘Friends’ Reunion Defends Matthew Perry Against “Unkind” Comments

Matthew Perry

Before the Friends reunion even aired, fans were expressing their concern over the appearance of Matthew Perry — who appeared to be spaced out and slurring his words during a video interview with People, prior to the special premiering.

As it turned out, the 51-year-old actor, who famously portrayed Chandler Bing for a decade, had undergone emergency dental surgery before the shoot, with his manager assuring the masses they had no cause for concern.

Perry has since revealed that he and his fiancée — literary manager Molly Hurwitz — have sadly separated.

Perry, 51, and Hurwitz, 29, began dating in 2018 and got engaged in November 2020.

“Sometimes things just don’t work out and this is one of them,” he said in a statement to People Magazine. “I wish Molly the best.

While it remains unclear when the pair spilt or if it had anything to do with his subdued reunion appearance, it’s understandable that people were worried given Perry’s well-documented struggles with substance abuse over the years.

In 2013, the actor got candid with People Magazine about his addiction, saying that he became reliant on painkillers after being prescribed them following a jet ski accident. “I had a big problem with pills and alcohol, and I couldn’t stop,” he confessed.

“I was on Friends from age 24 to 34. I was in the white-hot flame of fame. The six of us were just everywhere all the time. From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism,” said Perry. “It was going on before Friends, but it’s a progressive disease.

“I was never high at work. I was painfully hungover. Then eventually things got so bad I couldn’t hide it and everybody knew.”

Perry enrolled in several stints in rehab over the years in order to get his problem under control but has previously admitted to not remembering a good chunk of his time on the beloved sitcom.

In response to renewed concern from fans about Perry’s subdued appearance at the Friends reunion, the director of the special — Ben Winston — has spoken in defence of the actor.

Appearing on The Hollywood Reporter‘s podcast TV’s Top Five, Winston said, “He was great. People can sometimes just be unkind. I wish they weren’t. I loved working with him.

“He’s a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show. I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this.”

During the one-off special, Perry admitted to feeling like he was going to die several times on the series if he felt the live audience hadn’t found one of his jokes funny.

“It’s not healthy, for sure, but I would sometimes say a line and they wouldn’t laugh and I would sweat and just, like, go into convulsions. If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out.

“I felt like that every single night.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with series creators Marta Kauffman, Kevin Bright and David Krane, Bright also showed his support for Perry and his progress, saying, “What people say is what people say. I don’t have any to say about that, except it was great to see him. And I think he’s very funny on the show. But yes, I think he’s OK. He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward.”

Stream Friends: The Reunion on-demand on BINGE.

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