Minnie Driver reveals Matthew Perry had an ‘inner struggle’ with ‘Friends’

Minnie Driver remembered her late friend Matthew Perry in a heartfelt obituary polished by The Guardian.

Driver and Perry, who died at age 54 on Oct. 28, appeared together in the 2003 production of David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.”

“He had been in a good place when we were doing the play, but the thing about him was he was like a light. He was one of those people who just made other people feel good. Somehow, they don’t suck you down into their sadness, or their pain, and I know now that his pain was great,” Driver, 53, wrote.

The “Good Will Hunting” actress went on to note that Perry was “one of the quickest people you would ever come across” in conservation.

“Ruthlessly funny in the ways he’d react to people. He wouldn’t let you get away with anything. Invariably, I would tell really long stories and he’d always do this brilliantly timed bit where he’d nod off in the middle — so funny — but he wasn’t mean in any way,” she gushed. “He was the most self-deprecating person and really kind.”

Minnie Driver and Matthew Perry at a SAG gala in LA on March 10, 2022. Getty Images
Matthew Perry and Minnie Driver in “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” JEFF SPICER/ALPHA/GLOBE PHOTOS

She added: “Anyone who asked him for help, he would help.”

Perry was best known for playing Chandler Bing on the NBC sitcom “Friends” for 10 years from 1994 to 2004. At the height of his fame, he struggled with substance and alcohol addiction, at one point being driven directly to rehab after he filmed Chandler and Monica Geller’s (Courteney Cox) wedding in Season 7.

His cast — Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — confronted him on set about his issues, with Aniston leading the charge. Perry once estimated that he spent $9 million to get sober.

Matthew Perry and Minnie Driver at the UK premiere of “Hope Springs” in 2003. Getty Images

“Matthew, we mustn’t forget, was a very good actor,” Driver wrote in her touching tribute. “I recently looked at the reviews for our play — and his were all really good, apart from one. I remember his reaction to it: ‘Some people only want Chandler, and I don’t know that I’m allowed to be anything other than that.’ That character was going to be iconic and beloved for ever, but clearly, there was so much more to him.”

“But he knew that ‘Friends’ was never going to let him go. It was a pretty tight yoke. Part of Matthew’s inner struggle was that he was so closely identified with a role that was also beloved to him — one that he was so good at. But it also held him in a specific place, so it felt like a tug of war,” she went on.

Kelly Reilly, Minnie Driver and Matthew Perry at their play after party. Getty Images

“I also think if you struggle with addiction and you have this extraordinary, rarefied life where people love you so completely, it’s always difficult to come to terms with the possibility of your fallibility.”

Perry opened up about his struggles in his 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” which marked its first-year anniversary just days after his death.

“I last saw him on his book tour last year. It was such a relief hearing him say that by putting all that tough stuff out there, he’d exorcised it in a way,” she said. “I’m incredibly grateful that he got to have the experience of how much people loved that book, and loved him, outside of ‘Friends,’” Driver wrote. “Ultimately, it seemed like a positive thing.”

Matthew Perry and Minnie Driver starred in their play in 2003. PA Images via Getty Images

The “Fools Rush In” actor once said that he wanted to be remembered for more than just playing Chandler on the beloved series.

“I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker,” Perry said during a “Q with Tom Power” podcast episode in Toronto while promoting his book. “And his paramount thing is that he wants to help people. That’s what I want.”

“The best thing about me, bar none, is that if somebody comes to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking, can you help me?’ I can say ‘yes’ and follow up and do it,” he continued. “When I die, I don’t want ‘Friends’ to be the first thing that’s mentioned. I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned. And I’m gonna live the rest of my life proving that.”

The cast of “Friends” in the ’90s. NBCUniversal via Getty Images

As The Post previously reported, Perry was undergoing frequent ketamine infusions to treat depression and drug addiction before his passing. His death was caused by “acute effects of ketamine” and accidental drowning. However, the medical examiner noted that the amount found in Perry’s system could not have been from his final infusion treatment a week and a half before his death.

Ketamine’s half-life is only three to four hours — and the amount found in Perry’s system was equivalent to the general anesthesia given to surgical patients, experts said. It is still unclear how Perry obtained the ketamine that was found in his system.

The autopsy report also revealed that the actor was getting regular injections of testosterone just two weeks before his death, and there was no evidence of foul play.

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