Perry wrote a memoir about his roller coaster ride with the sitcom’s global hit, addiction and recovery – excerpts from which have previously made headlines, including his crush on co-star Jennifer Aniston and his experience near-death with opioids.
Moving on to his craft in an excerpt published in today’s newspaper TimePerry explains how, right from his audition, he was inspired to give Chandler a speech pattern that stood out, emphasizing unusual words and syllables.
“I read the words in an unexpected way, hitting accents no one else had hit. I was back in Ottawa with my childhood friends the Murrays; I got laughs where no one else had one.
Becoming the final member of the main cast of six, Perry brought this same style of delivery into production:
“I spoke in a way that no one had spoken in sitcoms before, hitting weird accents, picking out a word in a sentence that you might not imagine to be the beat.
“I didn’t know it yet, but my way of speaking was going to seep into the culture over the next few decades. For now, though, I was just trying to find some interesting ways in lines that were already funny, but that I really thought could get you dancing.
“(I was once told that writers would underline the word that is usually not underlined in a sentence just to see what I would do with it.)”
Sure enough, despite the series ending after ten seasons in 2004, Chandler’s expressions, including the memorable “Can I BE…?” remain in common parlance today, no doubt helped by endless reruns of the record-breaking sitcom, which a whole new generation of fans discovered on Netflix during lockdown.
Perry also recounts how, as soon as he was sent the script for the show, originally called friends like ushe instinctively knew Chandler was the character he needed to play.
“It was like someone had been following me for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, photocopying my tired but witty outlook on life…
“It wasn’t that I thought I could play ‘Chandler’; I was Chandler.
Perry has reunited with his mate Friends alumni last year for a televised reunion. As the cast joined in to reminisce about their time on the show, the actor – who has become a champion in addiction rehabilitation – opened up about the pressure he’s been under. set to land the laughs he was known for:
“I felt like I was going to die if [the live audience] did not laugh. And it sure isn’t healthy. But sometimes I would say a line and they wouldn’t laugh, and I would sweat and… and just, like, I would have seizures. If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out. I felt like this every night.
Matthew Perry’s memoir “Friends, Lovers and the Big, Terrible Thing” is released November 1.