Matthew Perry beautifully shared how he wanted to be remembered a year before his death
"When I die, I don't want 'Friends' to be the first thing that's mentioned."
In the wake of Matthew Perry’s sudden death by apparent drowning on Oct 28, heartfelt tributes have been rolling in commemorating the actor for his iconic comedy roles—primarily his beloved character of Chandler Bing on the quintessential millennial sitcom “Friends.”
And while his charming, sardonic onscreen persona brought endless amounts of joy for fans, he would tell it wasn’t his biggest accomplishment. In fact, none of his acting roles were.A year prior to his death, Perry had released his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” where he opened up about his decades long sobriety journey from opioid addiction.
While promoting the book on the “Q with Tom Power” podcast, Perry revealed what he actually hoped would be his lasting legacy.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life but the best thing about me, bar none, is that if an alcoholic or drug addict comes up to me and says, ‘Will you help me?’ I will always say ‘Yes, I know how to do that. I will do that for you, even if I can’t always do it for myself.’ So I do that, whenever I can. In groups, or one on one,” he told Power.
“I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker. And [my] paramount thing is that [I] want to help people…” the actor continued, adding that his call to be of service led him to creating the Perry House in Malibu, a sober-living facility for men as well as his play, “The End of Longing,” written as a “personal message” to those struggling with addiction, or those who love someone with addiction.
And though Perry prioritized these contributions over his career, he was also a consummate realist…with a sense of humor.
“When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends. And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor, as well as given people multiple chances to make fun of my struggles on the world wide web…But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people. I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice,” he said.
Following Perry’s passing at the age of 54, this powerful interview began making the rounds on social media once again, with countless fans noting how his words will indeed help those on the road to recovery.
Here is just a small sampling of what folks are saying:
“Rest in peace Matthew Perry. I'm sure your book will help countless other addicts and their families. We will miss your honesty, humbleness, and humor.”
“From an Irish family, full of drinking, arguments, death, I am so desperately sorry that MP has come to an early end. My son is recovering, I have sent this to him. Thank you. RIP Matthew Perry.”
“RIP. Your ability to voice how an addict feels, how their brain works, and what that means for them has helped me as I’ve processed alcoholic family members and friends’ lives. Thank you for bringing light to this.”
“His transparency and harsh honesty here about his addiction will stick with me forever. It's not easy. RIP brother.”
These are the lessons we all come to learn one way or another. One, that the human heart doesn’t necessarily measure success by fame or fortune, but by how we were able to make an impact for others. And two, that opening up about our struggles just might be the very thing to help us, all of us, heal.
Thank Matthew. For the laughs and for the honesty.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.