By Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter
Friends star Matthew Perry says he was on the brink of death after his colon burst from drug abuse.
The 53-year-old actor, who played the funny and sarcastic Chandler Bing on the popular US sitcom, has opened up about the role – as well as the substance and alcohol problems that have dogged his career – in a new autobiography.
In an interview with People magazine, Perry said he waited until now to share the extreme depths of his addiction because he wanted to make sure he is “safe from going into the dark side of everything again”.
— People (@people) October 19, 2022
He opens his book, Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing, with the revelation he almost died a few years ago aged 49, the US outlet said.
After his colon burst from opioid abuse, he spent two weeks in a coma and five months in hospital and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
He said: “The doctors told my family that I had a 2% chance to live.
“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.”
Perry said five people were put on Ecmo machines that night and only he survived, making him question why he was the one.
He said his alcohol addiction began to surface when he was first cast on Friends aged 24.
By the end of the 10th series of the hit show, he became “entrenched in a lot of trouble”.
He said there were years when he was sober while filming and that his fellow cast members had been “understanding” and “patient” with him when he was going through difficult times.
“It’s like penguins. Penguins, in nature, when one is sick or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up”, he said.
“They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That’s kind of what the cast did for me.”
At one point during his time on Friends, which ran from 1994-2004, Perry said he was taken 55 Vicodin painkillers a day and was down to 128lb (just over nine stone) in weight.
He said: “I 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.
“I couldn’t stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive, so it gets worse and worse as you grow older.”
After 15 times in rehab and therapy sessions, Perry says he is now “pretty healthy” and motivated to help overs struggling with addiction.
He feels “everything starts with sobriety” adding: “Because if you don’t have sobriety, you’re going to lose everything that you put in front of it, so my sobriety is right up there.
“I’m an extremely grateful guy. I’m grateful to be alive, that’s for sure. And that gives me the possibility to do anything.”
Friends, Lovers, And The Big Terrible Thing will be available from November 1st.