In the midst of global strife and domestic contentiousness, today I am feeling a lingering sadness at the passing of Matthew Perry. I didn’t know him personally but did spend a few days in his company while filming an episode of FRIENDS, years ago. By that time, the show’s success had made the entire cast multi-millionaires and their most challenging decision by that time seemed to be “Which of my expensive, exotic cars shall I drive to the studio today?” Seriously. Each day, the cast parking slots featured new, sparkly, unbelievably uncommon cars, competing for attention.
The other five cast members were all cordial to me and made me feel welcome. I’d met Jennifer as a child while I was shooting the soap SEARCH FOR TOMORROW. Her father John Anniston and I had often shared scenes, our story lines overlapping. Mathew’s only scenes that episode were with me, so I was the single performer with whom he HADN’T been working with for several years. Even so, he never seemed able to remember my name; invariably called me Buddy…which I tolerated. I was a guest.
Over the years afterwards, I read occasional stories about his struggles with addiction and alcohol, all of which seemed to explain his distance and seeming air of distraction. I admired his work, especially in STUDIO 60 and WEST WING. It seems to me a shame that so talented an actor, who achieved such fame and wealth, yet spent so much of his professional life struggling with demons. As an actor who has been medicated for more than 20 years, I can appreciate the added degree of difficulty that performing under the influence of prescriptions imposes on the creative process.
Happy Trails, Matthew