'We are heartbroken': Matthew Perry's family pay tribute to Friends star after 'tragic' death

29 October 2023, 17:40 | Updated: 30 October 2023, 08:31

Friends star Matthew Perry has died aged 54
Friends star Matthew Perry has died aged 54. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The family of Friends star Matthew Perry have paid tribute to the actor after he died in a suspected drowning aged 54.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Emergency services called to a "water rescue" at Perry's Los Angeles home on Saturday afternoon.

Perry, who was best known for his role as Chandler Bing on Friends, is thought to have died in his jacuzzi at his home in the affluent Los Angeles neighbourhood of Pacific Palisades on Saturday.

In a brief statement, Perry's family said they were 'heartbroken' by his 'tragic' death.

"We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother. Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend," they said.

"You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love."

Read More: Everything known about Matthew Perry's death as initial post-mortem results come back 'inconclusive'

Read More: Matthew Perry's poignant last photos with his father and in his jacuzzi just days before being found 'drowned' at home

The creators of Friends, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and its executive producer Kevin Bright, have also paid tribute to their late colleague after Perry's "impossible" death.

In a joint statement they told Deadline: "We will always cherish the joy, the light, the blinding intelligence he brought to every moment - not just to his work, but in life as well.

"He was always the funniest person in the room. More than that, he was the sweetest, with a giving and selfless heart."

Suzanne Perry leaves in a car on the street where her son, actor Matthew Perry Matthew, was found dead in a hot tub at his house
Suzanne Perry leaves in a car on the street where her son, actor Matthew Perry Matthew, was found dead in a hot tub at his house. Picture: Getty

Emergency services rushed to Perry's home in Los Angeles after being called just after 4pm local time (around midnight UK time).

They arrived to find Perry had already died. He was not taken to hospital, and a coroner's van was later seen at the house.

No official cause of death has been given yet, but multiple media outlets have said he drowned, citing police and emergency services resources.

Read More: Matthew Perry's poignant last photos with his father and in his jacuzzi just days before being found 'drowned' at home

Read More: Matthew Perry's funniest moments as Chandler Bing in Friends as world reacts to actor's death

Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry. Picture: Getty

No drugs were found at the house. Perry had a well-documented history of addiction, but a friend who had seen him recently said he was looking well and was sober.

Foul play is not being considered. Los Angeles officials will conduct a post-mortem, after which more details will be available.

Perry had gone out that afternoon with a friend for a two-hour game of pickleball - a sport similar to tennis but played on a smaller court - before sending his assistant out on an errand. He was said to have been found dead when they came home.

His parents and stepfather were pictured outside his house after his death. Police taped off the street while enquiries continued.

Fans and friends paid tribute to Perry, with some laying flowers outside the iconic Friends apartment building in New York.

Actor Matthew Perry
Actor Matthew Perry. Picture: Getty

Perry became a worldwide star after appearing in Friends, and was nominated for an Emmy. He starred in all 234 episodes across ten seasons from 1994-2004.

He joined his co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer for a reunion special hosted by James Corden in 2021.

Perry's memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, was released towards the end of last year.

He began the book by saying: "Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead."

Perry told readers: "People would be surprised to know that I have mostly been sober since 2001. Save for about sixty or seventy little mishaps over the years."

Matthew Perry and co-star Matt LeBlanc
Matthew Perry and co-star Matt LeBlanc. Picture: Alamy

He also starred in 'Boys Will Be Boys,' 'Growing Pains,' 'Charles in Charge,' 'Sydney,' 'Beverly Hills, 90210,' 'Home Free,' and 'Ally McBeal'.

Perry appeared in a number of Hollywood movies, including '17 Again' and 'Fools Rush In'.

Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry. Picture: Alamy

In his book, Perry detailed that he spent weeks in a coma due to drug abuse. He also revealed that he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction while he starred on Friends.

"I loved everything about the show but I was struggling with my addictions which only added to my sense of shame," he wrote. "If I didn't get the laugh I was supposed to get I would freak out.

"I felt that every single night. This pressure left me in a bad place. I also knew of the six people making that show, only one of them was sick."

Friends and former co-workers said they were shocked by Perry's death.

Matthew Perry in June this year
Matthew Perry in June this year. Picture: Getty

Morgan Fairchild, who played Perry's on-screen mother Nora Bing in Friends, said: "I'm heartbroken about the untimely death of my 'son', Matthew Perry."

"The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock".

Maggie Wheeler, who played his former girlfriend Janice on the show, added: "What a loss.The world will miss you".

She said: "The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared".

Paget Brewster, who played recurring character Kathy on the show, said she was "so very sad" to hear about Perry's death/

"He was lovely to me on Friends and every time I saw him in the decades after. Please read his book. It was his legacy to help.

"He won’t rest in peace though. He’s already too busy making everyone laugh up there."

Warner Bros TV, which produced friends said: "We are devastated by the passing of our dear friend Matthew Perry".

Matthew Perry and Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston
Matthew Perry and Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston. Picture: Getty

They said in a statement: "Matthew was an incredibly gifted actor and an indelible part of the Warner Bros. Television Group family.

"The impact of his comedic genius was felt around the world, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of so many. This is a heartbreaking day, and we send our love to his family, his loved ones, and all of his devoted fans."

A friend told MailOnline: "Everyone is in a total state of shock. People are crying on the phone and struggling to accept this news.

"It's no secret that he struggled with drugs and alcohol for years but the last time I spoke to him, which was within the last few weeks, he seemed to be in a good place.

Matthew Perry in 2016
Matthew Perry in 2016. Picture: Alamy

"He was upbeat and sounded sober and positive.

"He'd been to rehab 17 times and nearly died from opioid abuse but he was someone who was sincere about taking his life, and his sobriety, one day at a time.

"It's such tragic news. Everyone is praying he didn't relapse. Matt was a genuinely lovely guy. He was always the first to welcome newcomers to the group and would always volunteer to help and be of service.

"We are all struggling to come to terms with this terrible news."

Others from the world of showbiz also shared tributes to Perry on Sunday.

Actress Viola Davis said: ""Your book shifted so many close to my heart. The people no one sees and most throwaway. It was a gift. 

"Beyond the joy you brought to many, your heart reigned supreme. Rest well... know that you brought love."

British comedian Omid Djalili said: "Regardless of being aware of his demons with drink & drugs and despite the world facing humanitarian catastrophes & seismic challenges that threaten our very existence right now, it’s still a shock to wake up to news about the sad passing of a colossal talent like Matthew Perry."

Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison, known for his role as Neil in the popular British comedy, said: "Matthew Perry was a huge inspiration to me growing up.

"My friends & I would come into school having memorised his sarcastic one-liners, speech patterns, even Chandler's dance.

"He brought me so much joy & without knowing it he encouraged me to pursue acting. Thank you."

Lucy Davis, who starred in the UK version of The Office, paid tribute to Perry, saying he made a "great impact" on her.

In a post on Twitter, she said: "I had the honor of working with this man for 9 months on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

"He was as funny off screen as he was on screen. He was really kind to me: I had one week where I was having difficulty with something at work and he came up to me and told me not to worry because he had my back.

"He was generous with his compliments to me when we acted together. One day I told him about one of my favorite moments of his in Friends - it was a really tiny moment that perhaps no one would remember - and after I told him he looked at me confused for a moment, and then said 'wow, 10 years of an award winning show and that's the bit you bring me!'

"Then he smiled at me and said that's why he liked it."

She added: "Knowing him for just those 9 months has remained a golden memory for me.... Thanks for all the laughs Matthew. You made a great impact on me."

In a follow up post the actress said: "For people asking, this was the Friend moment I told him about: Ross saw Rachel kiss Gavin on the balcony, and Chandler said how he wanted Monica to put lights out there but Monica says no one goes out there.

"And it's literally just how Matthew delivers the line "maybe if we put some lights out there they will". Very random I know."

Matthew Perry with the Friends cast
Matthew Perry with the Friends cast. Picture: Getty

Born in 1969 in Massachusetts, Perry grew up in Ottawa in Canada, where his mother was a political speechwriter. His parents were separated.

He was a highly rated tennis player as a teenager, but moved to Los Angeles to be closer to his father, John Bennett Perry, who was also an actor.

There Perry began featuring in several successful TV shows before landing his iconic role in Friends.

He never got married, and although he was engaged to talent manager Molly Hurwitz, the relationship ended in 2021.