Matthew Perry talks addiction, 'Heroes'
Tuesday, June 2, 1998
From Correspondent Mark Scheerer
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Matthew Perry finds himself at an interesting point in his acting career. After a brush with drugs and tragedy, he has a new movie in theaters and a promising new season ahead on the hit NBC comedy "Friends."
Perry stars in the comedy "Almost Heroes," which hit theaters nationwide this past weekend. The movie, about two would-be heroes who try to out-explore Lewis and Clark across the Louisiana Purchase, placed seventh at the box office in its opening week, taking in $2.8 million.
Perhaps most notably, it's the last movie to star comedian Chris Farley, who died of a drug overdose in December 1997.
Perry on addiction
"Almost Heroes" is standard slapstick humor, the kind of comedy that made Farley famous. Although Perry was working closely with Farley, he says between comedic takes he saw no signs indicating the deadly turn Farley's life would take.
"He was completely straight while we were doing the movie," Perry said. "And I guess at the culmination of the film, things turned bad for him."
Perry, who battled his own addiction to prescription pain killers last year, says he and Farley often talked about recovery. He says he was "shocked" at Farley's death, but knows from experience that an addicted person often refuses help from others.
"The thing is that nobody can make anybody do anything," Perry said. "And you can have talk after talk after talk, but the person who is in trouble really needs to want to not be in trouble for it to work out."
Perry says he's thankful he was able to see the signs before his addiction got out of control.
"I guess it was around April (1997) that I realized the level, the severity of the problem that I was having," Perry admitted. "And I'm really proud that I kind of stepped up to the bat and took care of it. For me, it was a no-brainer. It was just -- this is obviously what I have to go do."
Now Perry is looking forward to another season on the sitcom "Friends." In the last episode, Perry's character, Chandler, slept with Courtney Cox's character, Monica.
"I'm amazed at how a lot of people have come up to me and said, 'That's about time that happened,'" Perry said. "And I'm trying to figure out -- because we never really set anything up. It just kind of happened."
Perry says it will be fun to pursue that story line when the show returns in the fall.