Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry Review – Episode of The Rich and Famous Addict | Biography and notes

nIt wasn’t long before he landed the role of life-changing Chandler Bing on the international sitcom phenomenon friends, Matthew Perry prayed: “Lord, you can do whatever you want with me. Just please make me famous.” In this memoir, Perry talks about achieving such massive success and fame: At its peak, the series’ cast members were earning more than $1 million per episode. But his book is primarily about “the big terrible thing”: Berry’s alcohol and painkiller/opioid addiction (OxyContin, Vicodin, Dilaudid, to name a few) that has led him to spend more than half his life in rehab and treatment centers, removing Poisons over 65 times, and paid upwards of $9 million trying to stay sober.

Berry became famous in his mid-twenties, and by the age of 30 he developed pancreatitis. In 2018, when he was 49, his colon burst, and that’s where his memoir begins: a near-death inferno scene (counsellors try to stop him from going to hospital, believing it to be “drug-seeking behavior”) involving a seven-hour surgery (with 2% chance of survival), coma, massive scarring and nine months with a colostomy bag that keeps bursting, covering it with stool. (It is the threat of a permanent colostomy bag that scares Berry into quitting.)

Berry also longs for fame, and is outspoken about the fragility of his egos, self-loathing, and cravings for validation. Raised primarily in Canada, his parents – a young beauty queen and popular singer/actor who starred in Old Spice ads – separated when he was a child, leaving him with abandonment issues. Perry went to live with his father in Los Angeles at the age of fifteen, discontinued his willingness to play tennis and focused on his acting talent.

Although he is happy to win the friends The golden ticket (“I was going to be so famous, all the pain I carry with me will melt like frost in the sunlight”), Berry was an addictive character. When he was drinking at the age of 14, he continued to consume huge amounts on his own. After taking one pain reliever for an injury, go up to 55 tablets per day within 18 months. He lied to his family, friends, and paramedics for drugs and searched for dealers. As crises piled up, the book began to resemble Tripadvisor for high-end rehab units. Berry’s horror is palpable: “My mind is trying to kill me and I know it.”

Perry (far left) with the rest of the friends in 2001
Perry (far left) with the rest of the friends in 2001. Photo: Reuters

Perry has only admiration for him friends castmATS (Jennifer Aniston reach it Lisa Kudrow provides an introduction to this book). He points sarcastically to his body’s fluctuations over the course of the show: “When I hold my weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a beard, it’s Lots of cereals. ” Friends, lovers…also full of failed relationships: Perry is outspoken about developing a toxic habit of dumping women, including Julia Roberts, to preempt the dumping himself. Later, on dates, he begins a prepared speech about how he is emotionally unavailable for anything but sex.

As far as celebrities go, Perry praises some, like Bruce Willis, and takes swipes at others. Reflecting on the death of former co-star River Phoenix (a night in life Jimmy Reardon), he asks, “Why did original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die but Keanu Reeves walk among us?” Elsewhere, there’s an irritating sensation (bad ratings, insults to awards) and he can barely brag about his fortune and his multimillion-dollar homes. At the same time, he criticizes fame: “You have to be famous to know it’s not the answer. And no non-famous person would believe it.”

Berry does not always look likeable, but perhaps this is a sign of an honest memoir. This examination is a stark examination of the myriad costs of addiction (“I have the guts of a man in his ’90s”) and an inventory of the author’s mistakes (“If any lazy selfish person like me can change, then anyone can”). Now 53, he credits his heroin fear with being still alive. His goals are to stay sober, possibly start a family, and write scripts. He interprets the “golden light” seen during the Xanax party as divine intervention and wants to help people.

Perhaps this book can do that. It’s shocking and reveals the juncture at which extreme compound addiction collides with major celebrities. It is a cry of genuine human pain, albeit sprinkled with star dust. You end up liking his honesty.

Friends, lovers, and the big terrible thing By Matthew Perry published by Title (£25). to support guardian And the observer Request your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

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