Condolences continue to pour in from around the globe in the wake of the sudden death of actor Matthew Perry. Last Saturday, the beloved 54-year-old Friends star was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home. It is believed he died of a heart attack and toxicology reports are pending.
Two days after Perry’s death, his fellow Friends castmates – Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer – issued a joint statement to People:
“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family. There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss. In time we will say more, as and when we are able. For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”
On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Andrew Klavan, author of The House of Love and Death, to reflect on Perry’s career, addiction battle, and desire to be remembered for more than just his famous characters.
Perry’s Battle with Addiction
In November 2022, Perry released a memoir titled Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing in which he openly shared his lust for fame at an early age, his struggles with addiction and recovery, and the peace he found in sobriety. When asked about his legacy last year, Perry said he would like to be remembered not for Friends but for helping others.
Megyn noted that she is “so sad” Perry is gone, especially after what he had overcome. “I feel like he found a way through just the nastiest form of addiction there is,” she said. “It’s just addiction is never good and it’s never easy, but, for some people, it can truly be a monster that is just almost impossible to navigate – and that’s how it was for him.”
Perry wrote in his memoir that he was “an alcoholic from the age of 14” and became addicted to painkillers after being prescribed them for injuries from a jet ski accident. After many failed attempts, Perry said he got sober around 2002 – save for a few relapses over the last 20 years. Since then, his mission was to help others get clean.
Klavan admitted that he is not one for celebrity memories, but he listened to Perry’s book and became “obsessed” with its candor. “He was a guy who prayed to God as a young man and said, ‘God, all I want is to be famous. If you make me famous, you can do anything you want to me,’” Klavan recalled. “I’ve never seen someone who had every wish come true, but that was this guy. Matthew Perry had every wish come true.”
That was true, in Klavan’s view, to the nth degree. “He not only became famous, he had the iconic show of his era, he had the top movie while he had the top show… he had some of the most beautiful Hollywood women as his lovers,” he explained. “Even when he wrote about his addiction, it was the number one bestseller. Everything that he wanted came true.”
But it all came at a cost. Aside from Perry’s success, his struggles with substance abuse were a harmful battle he was always fighting. “I knew people who worked with him and loved him… but the commitment to self-destruction in his life was terrible to behold,” Klavan noted. “It did make me think of demons, it made me think of something that possessed you beyond your ability to control.”
Megyn brought up the connection between addiction and fame, citing celebrities like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman who have also died from drugs or substance abuse. “The double combo of seeking fame and getting hooked to drugs, it’s a very familiar pair,” she said. “Matthew Perry, whether he was intoxicated on the night of his death or not, died of drugs and the amount of damage that he had done to his body over the years.”
In her view, those who seek fame may be wired differently. “There’s probably no coincidence that people who chase fame have a hole inside of them that is unfillable, and when fame inevitably doesn’t succeed in filling it, they turn to something else,” she shared. “And that’s ‘something else’ – drugs – is even more pernicious.”
Ultimately, Megyn said the trappings of fame cannot be underestimated. “Fame does nothing for you; fame is a dark force, if anything; it is not an uplifting, enlightening one,” she concluded. “It’s a sad day and it’s a reminder of intervening early with your own children, or your own loved ones, or yourself should you find yourself with this struggle.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Andrew Klavan by tuning in to episode 659 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.