Dave and Chuck the Freak

Matthew Perry attends the opening night on Broadway of Lucas Hnath's "A Doll's House, Part 2" starring Laurie Metcalf and Chris Cooper at Golden Theatre on April 27, 2017 in New York City.

Friends alumni Matthew Perry opened up about his addiction journey to People ahead of the November 1 release of his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. Perry, 53, told the publication, “I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again. I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people.”

Perry opens his memoir with the revelation that he almost died a few years ago at age 49 due to his colon bursting from opioid overuse. Suffering from a gastrointestinal perforation, the actor spent two weeks in a coma, five months in a hospital and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months due to his colon bursting. Doctors told Perry’s family when he was first admitted to the hospital that he “had a 2 percent chance to live,” he recalls. “I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that.” He recalls that five other people were put on that machine that night — four died and he was the only survivor.

When Perry was first cast on Friends as Chandler Bing at 24, his alcohol addiction was just starting to surface. “I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” he admits. “But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, ‘That should tell me something.'”

Perry was also abusing opioids during his time acting on Friends, taking as much as 55 Vicodin a day and weighing 128 pounds. “I didn’t know how to stop,” he said. “If the police came over to my house and said, ‘If you drink tonight, we’re going to take you to jail,’ I’d start packing. I couldn’t stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older.”

Over the years, Perry went to rehab 15 times and had 14 surgeries on his stomach. “That’s a lot of reminders to stay sober,” he says. “All I have to do is look down.” While he prefers not to disclose how long he’s currently been sober, he does still count each day. For those who read the memoir, “I think they’ll be surprised at how bad it got at certain times and how close to dying I came,” Perry says. “I say in the book that if I did die, it would shock people, but it wouldn’t surprise anybody. And that’s a very scary thing to be living with. So my hope is that people will relate to it, and know that this disease attacks everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re successful or not successful, the disease doesn’t care.”

'Friends': All Thanksgiving Episodes Ranked

  • 10. The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs (Season 7, Episode 8)

    Compared to the other Thanksgiving episodes, “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs” just doesn’t measure up, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great moments. Seeing Ross frustrated by Chandler’s 50 states game is super funny, and learning Chandler doesn’t like dogs is one of his more ridiculous quirks. Side note: Clunkers is an adorable name for a dog.

  • 9. The One With the List (Season 2, Episode 8)

    Following his magical first kiss with Rachel after her drunken “I am over you” phone call, Ross has to figure out whether or not to break up with his girlfriend, Julie. How does he figure that out? By making a pro/con list with Chandler which hits the fan as soon as Rachel sees it. Meanwhile, Monica gets a job at a firm and is tasked with coming up with Thanksgiving recipes for their new product, Mockolate, a chocolate substitute. A great episode, but it just lacks that Thanksgiving zest other episodes have. However, it does have Michael McKean guest-starring as Monica’s new boss and Phoebe’s song “Two of Them Kissed Last Night.”

  • 8.  The One With Rachel’s Other Sister (Season 9, Episode 8)

    Rachel’s sister, Amy (Christina Applegate), unexpectantly shows up and is rude to everyone. (Applegate won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance.) Joey forgets to show up to appear on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with his fellow Days of Our Lives castmates. Monica is freaking out over using her wedding china during Thanksgiving dinner. There’s also drama around who would raise newly born Emma if both Ross and Rachel died. Basically, this episode is more stuffed with Thanksgiving hijinks than any turkey.

  • 7. The One Where Underdog Gets Away (Season 1, Episode 9)

    You never forget your first, and “The One Where Underdog Gets Away” helped set the bar for Friends Thanksgiving episodes to come. A series of random events lead to the gang spending the holiday together. (However, Joey’s reason involving becoming the poster boy for V.D. after a modeling gig gone wrong is the funniest.) We also learn Chandler’s disdain for the holiday stems from his parents announcing they were divorcing on Thanksgiving when he was a young boy. As a result, he doesn’t eat any traditional Thanksgiving food and opts for a feast of tomato soup, grilled cheese, and a large bag of Funyuns. That feast saves the day after dinner is ruined because everyone is locked out of Monica and Rachel’s apartment due to checking out the Underdog balloon that escaped from the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.


  • 6. The One With Chandler in a Box (Season 4, Episode 8)

    How do you win a friend back after kissing his girlfriend? You do some serious thinking inside a box, or at least that’s how Joey and Chandler attempt to resolve their issues. Monica provides some hilariously awkward moments trying to get involved with the son of her ex-boyfriend/ophthalmologist, Richard, after a fateful eye injury. We also learn Rachel always exchanges gifts she receives, which puts a wrench in the group determining their “Secret Santa” gift exchange. Plenty of great character moments in this Thanksgiving episode, especially from Chandler who still manages to bring the funny even though he’s hanging out in a box.

  • 5. The One With the Late Thanksgiving (Season 10, Episode 8)

    Monica doesn’t want to host Thanksgiving this year, but she is convinced into doing so by the rest of the group. How do they repay her? By being late, which is a massive Monica no-no. Joey and Ross were at a New York Rangers game, while Phoebe and Rachel were entering Emma in a baby beauty pageant. However, after plenty of arguing, Monica gets over everyone’s tardiness when she and Chandler, who are unable to conceive, receive a phone call from an adoption agency informing them they were getting a baby. A wonderful, feel-good ending to the final Friends Thanksgiving episode.

  • 4. The One With the Football (Season 3, Episode 9)

    Monica and Ross’ sibling rivalry is the centerpiece to this hilarious Thanksgiving episode that sees the group playing a game of three-on-three touch football. The Gellers used to play a football game every Thanksgiving, appropriately called “The Geller Bowl,” and the winner would get “The Geller Cup,” which was a Troll doll nailed to a piece of wood. After a violent “Geller Bowl 6,” Monica and Ross’ dad threw “The Geller Cup” in a nearby lake, and they weren’t allowed to play football ever again. Monica would later reveal she fished the trophy out of the lake and has been holding onto it for years, and it becomes the prize during the three-on-three game. Add to this madness Chandler and Joey attempting to win the same girl, and the entire episode is a prime example of why Friends was so popular.

  • 3. The One Where Ross Got High (Season 6, Episode 9)

    Chandler and Monica, who just moved in together, are hosting Thanksgiving, and Judy and Jack Geller are coming over, but they don’t care for Chandler and don’t know he’s moved in. Rachel, meanwhile, is tasked with making Thanksgiving dessert, but the pages for the recipe get stuck together in the magazine she’s referencing, and she ends up making an English trifle that also has shepherd’s pie ingredients. The episode culminates in an epic confession of various secrets that stun Judy and Jack, but they help them to final like Chandler. It’s basically a Thanksgiving trainwreck/miracle.

  • 2. The One With the Rumor (Season 8, Episode 9)

    Brad Pitt plays Will Colbert, a high school friend of Monica’s, who also struggled with his weight, that’s in New York City on business. After running into him and learning he’s away from home on Thanksgiving, she invites the now-thin Will to dinner. Will didn’t realize Rachel, who he hated in high school, was going to be there. Obviously, wackiness ensues including the reveal that Will started a rumor in high school that Rachel was intersex. This episode is easily one of the most publicized episodes in Friends history thanks to the appearance by Pitt, who was married to Jennifer Aniston at the time. Oh, and Joey’s Thanksgiving pants are classic!

  • 1. The One With All the Thanksgivings (Season 5, Episode 8)

    “The One With All the Thanksgivings” is the definitive Friends Thanksgiving episode. The flashbacks, even the ones of Phoebe’s past lives, provide important backstory for the characters. We find out that a rude comment Chandler made about Monica’s weight during Thanksgiving 1987 was the reason why she lost so much weight, and that same comment is also the reason why Monica accidentally cut off Chandler’s toe during Thanksgiving 1988. At this point, Monica and Chandler, as a couple, is still very new and only Joey knows about them. Chandler doesn’t take the stories well, however, Monica makes it up to him by sticking her head inside a turkey (a reference to a flashback of Joey getting his head stuck in a turkey), and Chandler tells Monica he loves her for the first time, thus, sending us slowly down the road of one of the most important relationships in the entire series.