Matthew Perry had suffered with addiction for decades before his shock death aged just 54.
The star shared every harrowing detail of his struggles in his recently-published and was speaking with renewed purpose about his future after finally getting his demons under control.
“There is a reason I’m still here,” the actor wrote in Friends, Lovers, and The Big Terrible Thing. “And figuring out why is the task that has been put in front of me.”
Exactly 12 months later, the beloved Friends star has been found dead at his Los Angeles home, sending shockwaves through Hollywood.
The actor appeared in multiple films and TV shows throughout his career, but was easily best known for his role as Chandler Bing on the wildly-popular sitcom, in which he appeared for its entire decade-long run until 2004.
Friends also starred Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matt Leblanc and Lisa Kudrow.
In his memoir, Perry revealed the shocking cost of his addiction, revealing he’d spent close to $14 million on his attempts to get sober, had had 14 surgeries and nearly died – more than once – over the years.
On one occasion, his heart stopped for a full five minutes.
“It is very odd to live in a world where if you died, it would shock people but surprise no one,” Perry said in his book.
His struggles became so severe that he “nearly died” at the age of 49, after his colon burst from opioid overuse.
At the time, Perry had described it as a “gastrointestinal perforation” but told People last year that he actually was in a coma for two weeks during what became a five-month stay in hospital.
He also was forced to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
“The doctors told my family that I had a two per cent chance to live,” Perry said.
“I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that’s called a Hail Mary. No one survives that.”
In the subsequent book publicity blitz last year, Perry spoke candidly and emotionally about the despair and loneliness he’d felt at the height of fame as he desperately tried to regain control of his life.
But in his wide-ranging interview with People magazine last October, he was also finally optimistic about his future.
“I’m pretty healthy now,” he told the publication, before joking: “I’ve got to not go to the gym much more because I don’t want to only be able to play superheroes.”
While the star chose not to disclose to the publication how long he’d been sober, he explained that he’d learned to accept that mistakes were part of the journey.
“It’s important, but if you lose your sobriety, it doesn’t mean you lose all that time and education. Your sober date changes, but that’s all. As long as you were able to fight your way back without dying, you learn a lot,” Perry said, adding that his darkest times had made him stronger “in every way”.
“I’m most surprised with my resilience. The way that I can bounce back from all this torture and awfulness. Wanting to tell the story, even though it’s a little scary to tell all your secrets in a book, I didn’t leave anything out. Everything’s in there.”
Perry insisted that his was a story “filled with hope”, because – as he pointed out to People – “here I am.”
He also described a “typical” day in his sober life, explaining that he had coffee and checked in with “a couple of [Alcoholics Anonymous] guys” before going about his other activities.
“I try to play pickleball every day. I have dinner parties. I have a screening room in my house and invite people,” Perry said.
“If you want to feel lonely, watch a movie in a screening room by yourself. It’s awful. You have so much money, you look over and there’s nobody there.”
Sources say the actor died on Saturday in Los Angeles shortly after finishing a two hour game of pickleball. Other reports suggest he drowned in his hot tub.
In his interview with People, he explained that his addiction issues had just started to surface when he was cast on Friends at the age of 24, and that at its horrifying peak, he was taking 55 Vicodin a day and weighed only 58kgs.
“I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble,” he admits. “But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, ‘That should tell me something.’”
But he “didn’t know how to stop”.
“If the police came over to my house and said, ‘If you drink tonight, we’re going to take you to jail,’ I’d start packing,” Perry said.
“I couldn’t stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older.”
While the Friends star never married, he was briefly engaged to Molly Hurwitz, but the pair called off the wedding in mid-2021.
Prior to that, he’d been linked to Mean Girls actress Lizzy Caplan for around six years.
Perry told People magazine in October that he was still hoping to find The One and have a family, after finally getting over his “fear” of being in love.
“I had a tremendous amount of fear about it, and then, through a lot of work, got over that fear. I’m going to learn as I go,” he said.
“ … The next person I take seriously is somebody that I’m going to be in love with, and [I won’t] be scared by the things that used to scare me.”