7 Revelations From Matthew Perry’s Memoir ‘Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing’
The book currently on the cusp of taking the world by storm, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, began on the Notes app on Matthew Perry’s phone. That’s where the Friends star started laying out his life story, as he told The New York Times recently.
And eventually, those tapped-out notes coalesced into a memoir, the proposal for which impressed Megan Lynch, senior vice president at Flatiron Books.“There was a real voice to it,” Lynch said to the Times. “It was clear that he was going to share intimate details not just about his time on the show but about his entire life, and that felt revelatory.”
Flatiron is releasing the book on Tuesday, November 1, and already-published excerpts from the book are revelatory indeed. Perry writes at length about his time on Friends — and about his romantic relationships over the years — but much of the book is devoted to the drug and alcohol addictions from which the actor is now recovering.
Here are some of the anecdotes Perry shared about Friends, lovers, and “the big terrible thing.”
At one point, he was using methadone and Xanax and drank a quart of vodka a day.
In Diane Sawyer’s recent interview with Perry, she mentioned that he wrote in Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing that he was using methadone and Xanax and going through “a full quart of vodka a day.”
“Fifty-five Vicodin a day,” the actor added, saying that at one point he fell into a coma and “escaped death really narrowly.”
Jennifer Aniston confronted him about his drinking.
“‘I know you’re drinking,’ she said. … I was confused. ‘How can you tell?’ I said. I never worked drunk,” Perry remembered. “‘We can smell it,’ she said, in a kind of weird but loving way, and the plural ‘we’ hit me like a sledgehammer.”
He was sober for Friends’ ninth season.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Perry recounted in the memoir that he was living at a rehab facility in Malibu when the Friends cast and crew shot the Season 7 finale, and he was sober through Season 9, the only season for which the actor earned an Emmy nomination for best actor. “What did I do differently that season? I listened,” he wrote. “I didn’t just stand there and wait my turn to speak.”
He had to pull out of a role in Don’t Look Up after his heart stopped for five minutes.
Perry disclosed in the book that he had a part in the 2021 movie Don’t Look Up, which would have been the “biggest movie [he’d] gotten ever,” as Rolling Stone reports. He was meant to play a Republican journalist and was booked for three scenes with Meryl Streep, who played the President of the United States in the political satire.
Around the time of filming, however, Perry was staying at a rehab facility in Switzerland, where doctors prescribed him hydrocodone after he claimed to have stomach pain. The doctors also decided to treat the pain by putting “some kind of weird medical device” in his back. Perry spent the night before that operation taking hydrocodone pills, and the next morning, when doctors administered the anesthetic drug propofol in the operating room, Perry’s heart stopped.
“I was given the shot at 11:00 a.m.,” he wrote. “I woke up eleven hours later in a different hospital. Apparently, the propofol had stopped my heart. For five minutes. It wasn’t a heart attack — I didn’t flatline — but nothing had been beating. I was told that some beefy Swiss guy really didn’t want the guy from Friends dying on his table and did CPR on me for the full five minutes, beating and pounding my chest. If I hadn’t been on Friends, would he have stopped at three minutes? Did Friends save my life again? … He may have saved my life, but he also broke eight of my ribs.”
Amid the pain of the recovery from that medical crisis, Perry made the “heartbreaking” call to back out of Don’t Look Up, having only shot one scene which didn’t make it into the final cut.
He and Valerie Bertinelli made out next to her husband, Eddie Van Halen.
At one point in the book, Perry discusses his crush on Bertinelli, with whom he starred in the short-lived CBS sitcom Sydney in 1990. “I fell madly in love with Valerie Bertinelli, who was clearly in a troubled marriage,” he revealed, per Entertainment Weekly. “My crush was crushing; not only was she way out of my league, but she was also married to one of the most famous rock stars on the planet, Eddie Van Halen.”
And one night at their home, Perry said, he made out with Bertinelli after Van Halen got drunk on wine and passed out. “This was my chance! If you think I didn’t actually have a chance in hell, you’d be wrong, dear reader — Valerie and I had a long, elaborate makeout session,” he wrote.
The next morning, according to Perry, Bertinelli acted as if nothing happened between the two of them. “I quickly got the hint and also played the role I was supposed to, but inside I was devastated,” the actor wrote.
Seemingly in response to that revelation, Bertinelli posted a TikTok video to the tune of the Taylor Swift song “Anti-Hero” — specifically the lyrics, “It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me.”
“Anyone misbehave in their 20s and early 30s?” she captioned the clip. “Are you mortified?”
He wrote a physics paper to get Julia Roberts on Friends — and he tanked their real-life romance.
Perry was the one who sealed the deal for Julia Roberts to appear in the 1996 Friends episode “The One After the Superbowl: Part 2.”
“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 storyline,” he wrote, per The Times (via Entertainment Weekly). “Let me say that again — she would only do the show if she could be in my storyline. (Was I having a good year or what?) But first, I had to woo her.”
As Perry recalled in the book, he sent the Pretty Woman star three dozen roses, along with a romantic note, but Roberts responded with a homework assignment: “Her reply was that if I adequately explained quantum physics to her, she’d agree to be on the show,” he wrote. “Wow. First of all, I’m in an exchange with the woman for whom lipstick was invented, and now I have to hit the books.”
So Perry did his homework and got Roberts on the show, and by the time she filmed her Friends appearance, she and he had already flirted via fax machine and struck up a romantic relationship. But Perry broke up with her after two months, he revealed in the book.
“Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me,” he said. “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, unloveable. 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 the TV guy was now breaking up with her. I can’t begin to describe the look of confusion on her face.”
He went on a date with Cameron Diaz, and she accidentally punched him in the face.
Per Page Six, Perry wrote that he had a date with Cameron Diaz at a dinner party after her 2007 split from Justin Timberlake and that she “immediately got stoned” at the get-together and “wasn’t interested in [Perry] at all.”
Then, Perry made a “witty” comment to Diaz during a game of Pictionary, and she “accidentally” punched him in the face while aiming for his shoulder, he said. (His response: “Are you f—king kidding me?”)
Perry doesn’t know why Keanu Reeves “still walks among us” after the deaths of other actors.
Perry seemingly has an issue with Keanu Reeves, comparing him unfavorably in the book to late actors River Phoenix and Heath Ledger. “Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?” he wrote, per BuzzFeed News.
The actor mentioned Reeves again in the book as he wrote about the death of Chris Farley: “I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston’s dressing room wall when I found out. Keanu Reeves walks among us.”
In a statement to People, Perry apologized for the apparent diss: “I’m actually a big fan of Keanu,” he said. “I just chose a random name, my mistake. I apologize. I should have used my own name instead.”