Friends cocreators Marta Kauffman and David Crane recalled their last conversations with Matthew Perry in an interview just four days after his sudden death.
Marta recalled that she spoke to Matthew, who played Chandler Bing on the show’s 10-season run, just two weeks before his death in a joint virtual interview with David on the Wednesday, November 1 episode of Today.
She recalled the beloved actor as being in good spirits during their chat.
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“It was great,” Marta said of their recent conversation. “He was happy and chipper. He didn’t seem weighed down by anything. He was in a really good place, which is why this seems so unfair.”
The cocreator of the classic NBC sitcom said she was in “utter shock” upon hearing the news of her friend’s tragic death. “My first instinct was to text him, honestly,” she said. “And then deep sadness. So much sadness. It’s hard to grasp. One minute he’s here and happy and then poof. And doing good in the world. Really doing good in the world.”
She continued, “He seemed better than I had seen in a while. I was so thrilled to see that. He was emotionally in a good place. He looked good. He quit smoking.”
Marta confirmed that at the time of their conversation, Matthew was sober. “Yes, he was sober. He learned things throughout this and what he learned more than anything is that he wants to help other addicts, and it gave him purpose.”
Today coanchor Hoda Kotb asked the creators about Matthew’s previous suggestion that people would be “shocked about his passing but not surprised.” David replied, “Given the journey he’d been on, and we were all aware of it, there was always a part that was kind of bracing for something like this. It is still hard to believe because he was such an alive person, that it’s hard to believe he’s not here.”
David added that he believes Matthew would understand the impact he had on people, but that “at the same time [he] wonder[s] … how much he was able to internalize it and find comfort in it.”
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Though the Friends star spoke publicly about his struggles with addiction – including at length in his bestselling 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing – Marta said he wasn’t as open with her when he was using substances.
“[I] talked to him about it actually right after the reunion [special, which aired on Max in 2021],” she said in the interview. “Once he went into treatment, he was open about it. Unless he was using.”
Marta added that she was worried about Matthew during the reunion, which took place right after he had emergency dental surgery. “Knowing he had been through everything he’d been through and every time he had surgery, they’re giving him opioids for pain, and the cycle starts over again. So yes, I was concerned about what point he was in the cycle at that moment.”
Fans noticed that The Ron Clark Story actor had slurred speech during the TV special, which left many wondering if he was under the influence during the taping.
“It sounded like my voice was off,” Matthew acknowledged in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer last year. He added that despite still recovering from surgery, he felt he “couldn’t not show up”.
David shared that the cast of Friends rallied around the Fools Rush In actor during their decade working together, saying, “We were all very aware that our priority was supporting him.”
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Marta closed the interview by saying, “I lost a friend in multiple ways, and what’s amazing is the outpouring from the fans who lost a friend of theirs, too. And I hope wherever he is, he feels it.”
According to initial autopsy results, the Ally McBeal actor did not have meth or fentanyl in his system when he died of an apparent drowning in his hot tub on October 28, TMZ reported November 1.
However, more in-depth testing, which can take between four and six months, must be completed before a cause of death can be determined. Toxicology tests will reveal whether there were illegal drugs or harmful doses of prescription medications in the actor’s system.
The West Wing star’s five main Friends cast members issued a joint statement on Monday, October 30, two days after his death.
“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew,” they wrote in the statement. “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.”
Their statement concluded with, “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.”
The message was signed by Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer.