“Friends” actor Matthew Perry, who passed away Saturday, once offered an eerie prayer to the Lord, one that — in his death — leaves much upon which to reflect.
There isn’t much known about the state of Perry’s heart: was he a believer? Did he know the Lord? But the celebrity was open about the struggles that punctuated much of his star-studded existence.
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Perry was a full-fledged alcoholic by 18 years old, after beginning to drink at just 14 — a heartbreaking reality he chronicled in his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” published just one year ago.
He also struggled with an opioid addiction. Perry’s abuse of alcohol and other drugs was so profound, its consequences were visible, tragically tracked on the show that made him a 1990s icon as “Chandler Bing.”
“I finally felt at home, for the very first time, as soon as I drank alcohol,” he told Tom Power last year. “[I] have a drink and, for the first time in three weeks, life seems to make sense.”
The sneaky power of alcohol — the way it changes the feelings and perspectives of those who drink it — gripped Perry like a vice, and he thought fame would grant him the reprieve he needed.
So he prayed to become a celebrity, and he got his answer.
“That prayer was, ‘Please, God, make me famous. You can do anything you want to me; just make me famous,'” he told Power. “Three weeks later, I got ‘Friends,’ and God did not forget about the second part.”
While the beloved sitcom certainly granted him the notoriety he desired, it did nothing to curb his addiction to alcohol.
“Alcoholism did not care that I was on ‘Friends,'” he reflected. “Alcoholism wants you alone; it wants you sick; and then it wants to kill you.”
Perry’s addiction to other drugs was so deep-seated at one point that, in addition to drinking, he was taking a startling 50 Vicodins a day and weighed a mere 128 pounds. While the hit show’s storyline chronicled the lives of a group of friends learning to navigate life in New York, for Perry, it documented the ebbs and flows of his addiction.
The evidence of his struggle was so glaring, Perry said he couldn’t even watch the series.
“I was on ‘Friends,’ getting watched by 30 million people, and that’s why I can’t watch the show,” he said.
Perry, though, did say last November he planned to start watching the series that made the Ottowa-raised star a household name.
“It’s become this important, significant thing,” he said. “I’ve been too worried about this and I — you know — I want to watch ‘Friends,’ too.”
But “Friends,” he added, wasn’t what he wanted for his legacy. Rather, in sobriety, he wanted people to remember him as one who helped others stop drinking and turn away from opioid abuse.
“The best thing about me, bar none, is if somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking. Can you help me?’ I can say yes and follow up and do it,” said Perry. “And I’ve said this for a long time: when I die, I don’t want ‘Friends’ to be the first thing that’s mentioned. I want [helping people] to be the first thing that’s mentioned, and I’m going to live the rest of my life proving that.”
As far as faith is concerned, Perry told HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher last year he has “a very close relationship” with a “higher power.”
The 54-year-old celebrity died Saturday, found unresponsive in his hot tub. As of right now, CNN reported, the official cause of Perry’s death is unknown. Its determination will require further investigation by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office.
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