Friends might never have become such a beloved, universally quotable sitcom without Matthew Perry’s witty, sarcastic and lovably insecure Chandler Bing. The actor, who died at his home on October 28 at age 54, felt born to inhabit the role. “It wasn’t that I thought I could play Chandler. I was Chandler,” he confessed in his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. “It was as if someone had followed me around for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, photocopying my world-weary yet witty view of life,” he wrote.

Raised in Ottawa, Canada, Matthew excelled at tennis but carried feelings of abandonment after his parents’ divorce. He moved to L.A. as a teenager and ditched his tennis racket to be an actor. For years, Matthew bumped around in little-seen films and failed TV pilots, burning to become famous. “I needed it,” he wrote. “It was the only thing that would fix me. I was certain of it.” He landed the role on Friends at 24.

A Higher Calling

In his memoir, Matthew talked about his years on the show and how he dated — and dumped! — actress Julia Roberts. But success and $1 million an episode did not bring the peace he desired. Over many years, he struggled with alcohol and prescription pills, took 15 trips to rehab and had several very close brushes with death.

Last year, Matthew shared his story because he finally felt comfortable in sobriety and hoped his difficult journey would inspire others. “I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker,” Matthew said. “And his paramount thing is that he wants to help people. That’s what I want.”