'Friends' stars Matthew Perry dead at 54, found in hot tub, sources say - Los Angeles Times

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'Friends' stars Matthew Perry dead at 54, found in hot tub, sources say - Los Angeles Times
“Friends” star Mathew Perry was found dead Saturday in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home, law enforcement sources said.
Authorities responded about 4 p.m. to his home, where he was discovered unresponsive. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, did not cite a cause of death. There was no sign of foul play, the sources added."

Striking a chord with twentysomethings everywhere, Friends was a ratings powerhouse. It drew an average of 25 million viewers for each new episode, finishing among the top 10 primetime programs during each year of its 10-season run.

Like his co-stars — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — Perry was relatively unknown when he landed the role. The show’s creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, knew that for Friends to work, there had to be chemistry.

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'Friends' stars Matthew Perry dead at 54, found in hot tub, sources say - Los Angeles Times 1

“It was a long casting process,” Kauffman told the Today show during a 2019 interview with her, Crane and executive producer Kevin Bright. They said Chandler proved to be the most difficult character to cast. “Marta and I were thinking Chandler is just poorly written,” added Crane. “Then Matthew came in and you went, ‘Oh, well, there you go. Done. Done. That’s the guy.'”

The trouble was that Perry was under contract to star in another new series about a futuristic airport. As much as the Friends producers wanted him, they couldn’t have him. Jon Cryer, Jon Favreau and Craig Bierko were among those approached for the Chandler role as the search continued.

But Perry’s show wasn’t picked up, and he was free to sign on. At 24, he was the youngest member of the cast, and it was clear he was meant to play the character.

With a knack for putting a sarcastic spin on any exchange, Chandler was given the show’s best punchlines. But his snarky tone masked an insecurity that also made him one of the most awkward and insecure of the group. Chandler’s uneasiness led to some of the show’s funniest situations.

In the first-season episode “The One With the Blackout,” Chandler fumbles a chance to connect with Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre after the two are trapped in an ATM vestibule. Chandler finds himself stranded in the restroom of a crowded restaurant wearing just a pair of women’s panties when a former classmate (played by Julia Roberts) takes revenge for a childhood prank he played on her (later expanded upon in 1996’s “The One After the Superbowl”). The 2001 installment “The One With Chandler’s Dad” discloses that Chandler’s parents divorced when he was young after his dad came out, and now Charles Bing (Kathleen Turner) is starring as a Las Vegas drag performer named Helena Handbasket. The father-son reconciliation was one of the series’ most poignant moments.

Perry’s cutting-edge timing, coupled with the ability to infuse the character with a sweetness and vulnerability, made it all work. In 2002, he and LeBlanc were nominated for an Emmy for lead actor in a comedy series, but they lost to Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Ray Roman.

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