Julia Roberts is speaking out for the first time since the untimely death of her former boyfriend and Friends co-star Matthew Perry. The actress reflected on their relationship and shared her grief over Perry’s passing at age 53.
Roberts "Heartbroken" Over Losing Former Flame
Roberts guest starred on Friends in 1995 during the height of her career after Perry begged producers to get her on the show. The two dated briefly the following year before ultimately calling it quits.
"I was so shocked and deeply saddened when I heard Matt had died," Roberts told ET in an exclusive interview. "Even all these years later, it still breaks my heart to lose him at such a young age. He was an incredibly talented actor and a very special part of my life at one point."
Perry was found dead in his Los Angeles home last week from cardiopulmonary arrest after years of health struggles related to drug and alcohol addiction. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner has not released an official cause of death pending additional tests.
|Roberts guest stars on Friends during Season 2 after Perry begged producers to get her on the show
|Roberts and Perry date briefly before splitting up
|Perry passes away suddenly at age 53 from heart issues related to longtime substance abuse problems
Roberts said she has fond memories working with Perry on the classic sitcom while playing Susie Moss, a former classmate of Chandler Bing who tries to get revenge on him for embarrassing her in elementary school.
“I mean, way back when we first worked together on Friends, who knew that show would blow up and be so hugely successful?" Roberts said. "Matt and the entire cast were all so talented and charming and fun to work with."
Inside Their Short-Lived 90s Romance
After Roberts’ guest appearance, she and Perry started an off-screen romance that was highly-publicized before ending just months later.
“We clicked right away and started dating soon after I finished my work on the show,” Roberts recalled. “I was drawn to his wit and humor which he brought to Chandler’s character—that’s really Matt’s personality shining through.”
So why didn’t their ‘90s power coupling go the distance? Roberts admits distance and busy schedules played a major factor.
“It was difficult for both of our careers at the time,” she explained. “I was focused on filming and had a bunch of movies lined up, and Matt’s schedule was all over the place with Friends. In the end I think we’re better off as friends, though I’ll always look back at our time together fondly.”
Perry’s History of Addiction Struggles
While Perry achieved massive success as Chandler Bing on the iconic NBC sitcom, the actor struggled for decades with alcohol and drug abuse issues stemming back to his early days on Friends.
Perry has been open in recent years about his past addictions to alcohol and opioids that nearly killed him and wreaked havoc on his personal life.
Roberts says she had no idea at the time the extent of his substance problems. "I think Matt didn’t want a lot of people to know he was struggling back then. He liked to keep up a brave face.”
|Perry completes rehab stint for first time
|Perry abuses opioids and alcohol, culminating in gastrointestinal perforation at age 49
|Perry reveals he spent 3 months in hospital and was close to dying
|Perry says he doesn’t remember filming 3 seasons of Friends from height of addiction
|Perry releases memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, detailing addiction journey
The actor was remarkably candid about his issues in his recent memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. He disclosed shocking details like when he was 49 and spent weeks fighting for his life after his colon burst from opioid overuse. He also shared he doesn’t remember roughly three seasons of filming Friends during periods when he was blackout drunk or high on Xanex and Vicodin.
“Reading Matt’s book, I had no idea how bad it got for him or how close he came to dying,” Roberts noted. “It’s heartwrenching, but I’m glad he shared his story to try to help others facing similar battles.”
Friends Family and Fans Mourn Beloved Star
In the week since Perry’s sudden death, tributes have poured in celebrating the actor’s life and talent. His Friends co-stars have grieved the loss of their longtime pal.
“We’re all just completely devastated over Matt’s passing—it still doesn’t feel real,” Lisa Kudrow told Access Hollywood. “He brought so much humor and heart to the show that can’t be replaced. We’ll all miss him tremendously.”
David Schwimmer added that “Perry always knew how to lighten the mood and make everyone laugh.” He said the cast plans to organize a private memorial for Perry in the coming weeks.
Additionally, heartfelt messages from celebrities Perry worked with over the years have continued flooding social media.
Even non-famous fans who simply grew up watching Perry on the small screen have lamented the death of who they felt was the funniest Friend. A makeshift memorial of flowers and candles left by supporters has been growing daily outside the former Friends set location in Burbank, CA.
What Happens Next
Looking ahead, Perry leaves behind a tremendous comedic legacy and array of memorable roles on screens both big and small. For years to come his Chandler Bing character is sure to remain one of the most beloved in sitcom history.
While an official cause of death has not been determined, some medical experts suspect Perry’s lifelong battle with substance abuse may have finally caught up with him—perhaps his body could no longer withstand the years of strain from addiction.
“I’ll certainly miss seeing Matt pop up in fun roles over the years,” Roberts remarked. “I’m so glad we got to share some special moments back in the day. He really was one of the funniest people I’ve worked with.”
She added, “Matt brought joy to so many people over the course of his career. The world lost a good one—he left us far too soon.”
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