The good, the bad and the ugly. Matthew Perry didn’t hold back in his Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing memoir — recalling his high-profile romances, addiction woes and Friends highs and lows.
“People would be surprised to know that I have mostly been sober since 2001,” he wrote in the book, which hits shelves on Tuesday, November 1. “Save for about sixty or seventy little mishaps over the years.”
The Odd Couple alum revealed that he has been battling drugs and alcohol addiction for decades. In fact, he was given phenobarbital when he was a baby to stop his colicky cries, a barbiturate he would later turn to during his lower points.
“When these mishaps occur, if you want to be sober, which I always did, you’d be given drugs to help you along,” he explained. “What drug may you ask? You guessed it: phenobarbital!”
“It was almost certain at that point that I was going to die. Was I unlucky that my colon exploded? Or was I lucky that it happened in the one room in Southern California where they could do something about it?” the former Go On star wrote of the scary experience. “Either way, I now faced a seven-hour surgery, which at least gave all my loved ones ample time to race to the hospital. As they arrived they were each told, ‘Matthew has a two percent chance of making it through the night.’ Everyone was so wrought with emotion that some crumbled to the ground right there in the hospital lobby. I will have to live out the rest of my days knowing that my mother and others heard those words.”
His struggle to stay sober — as well as his personal demons — also plagued his love life, including his short-lived relationship with Julia Roberts.
“[Friends co-creator] Marta Kauffman approached me and said that I should probably send flowers to Julia Roberts. You mean the biggest-star-in-the-universe Julia Roberts? ‘Sure, great, why?’ I said,” Perry wrote while recalling how the romance began. “Turned out Julia had been offered the post–Super Bowl episode in season 2 and she would only do the show if she could be in my story line. Let me say that again—she would only do the show if she could be in my story line. (Was I having a good year or what?).”
While the two did date ahead of Roberts’ appearance on Friends in 1996, by April of that year, Perry announced he was single.
“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,” the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip alum confessed in his book. “So instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts. She might have considered herself slumming it with a TV guy, and TV guy was now breaking up with her.”
Perry’s addiction also influenced his career happiness, especially during the late ‘90s and early 2000s when he was playing Chandler Bing on Friends.
“Fast-forward to the hiatus between seasons five and six of Friends and I found myself filming The Whole Nine Yards, and sure enough, when it came out in early 2000, I had the number one TV show and the number one movie. Me? I was taking so many pills that I couldn’t leave my bedroom,” he recalled. “So, in a moment when you’d think Matthew Perry would be celebrating and being the toast of the town, I was just handling drug dealers and living in dark rooms and misery.”
After spending “upward of $7 million trying to get sober,” Perry has come out the other side and is clean. “I have been to six thousand AA meetings. (Not an exaggeration, more an educated guess.) I’ve been to rehab fifteen times,” he revealed. “I’ve been in a mental institution, gone to therapy twice a week for thirty years, been to death’s door.”
Scroll down to see Perry’s biggest bombshells and revelations from Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing: