The light at the end of the tunnel. For years, Matthew Perry has been making fans laugh. Most known for his role as Chandler Bing in Friends, which aired from 1994 to 2004, Perry has never shied away from opening up about his struggles.
“When [fame] happens, it’s kind of like Disneyland for a while. For me it lasted about eight months, this feeling of ‘I’ve made it, I’m thrilled, there’s no problem in the world.’ And then you realize that it doesn’t accomplish anything, it’s certainly not filling any holes in your life,” he told The New York Times in 2002, one year after getting sober. “I didn’t get sober because I felt like it. I got sober because I was worried I was going to die the next day.”
He noted in the profile that he was similar to Chandler in a way, as he, too, tried to hide behind the jokes. “It’s no accident that Chandler is a guy who is trying to deter his own human emotional feelings with laughter. That’s what I did for years,” Perry explained. “I’ve tried to palm myself off as being a jokester, kind of like hanging out with me is kind of like a vacation. But that could only take me so far.”
The Whole Nine Yards actor’s addiction began after a jet ski accident in 1997, when he became addicted to Vicodin. That eventually led to alcohol abuse — so much so that he was often hungover at work.
”I had this odd rule that I would never drink on a set,” the Serving Sara star said. “But I went to work in extreme cases of hangover. It’s so horrible to feel that way and have to work and be funny on top of that.”
In 2000, he was hospitalized with pancreatitis due to alcohol abuse. The West Wing alum recalled often shaking and sweating on set afterward while going through detox. The season 6 finale, “The One with the Proposal,” aired in May 2000. The season 7 premiere, “The One With Monica’s Thunder,” aired five months later. However, the story line picked up in the same day, causing fans to notice how much Perry’s appearance had changed during the hiatus.
Although he finally asked for help the next year, he still had a long road to recovery. Scroll down for the full timeline: