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Hank Azaria shared that Matthew Perry played a significant role in his journey to sobriety while working together on Friends. He also expressed his sadness in witnessing Perry’s struggle with substance abuse.
After the news of Perry’s death at 54, Azaria, the voice actor for The Simpsons, honored the late comedy actor.
The 59-year-old performer and entertainer portrayed the character of David, Phoebe Buffay’s boyfriend, in the beloved 90s television series. Meanwhile, Perry took on the role of the clever and sardonic Chandler Bing.
In a recent Instagram post, Azaria discussed his bond with Perry and likened their relationship to that of brothers.
He stated that Matthew was the first person he befriended when he relocated to Los Angeles.
“I was 21 years old and he was 16 years old.”
“We collaborated on a preliminary project…our friendship grew and we felt like brothers for a significant period of time.”
We shared many drinks and laughter. During the beginning of our careers, we supported each other. He was just as hilarious in person as he was on Friends, and in other projects as well. He truly was the funniest man I’ve ever met.
Each night, he displayed genius as he effortlessly intertwined comedic elements, casually dropping jokes here and there, until reaching a crescendo of pure hilarity by the end of the evening.
Perry, known for his roles in TV shows such as The Odd Couple and Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, had openly shared his journey towards overcoming an addiction to opiates and alcohol.
According to Azaria, she had strong feelings for him. Many of those who were close to him believed that he had been lost to substance abuse for a long time, as his autobiography revealed the extent of his struggles.
I had to repeatedly start and stop reading the biography because it was too difficult for me to get through.
“I could tell that my friend, who loved him dearly, was going through immense suffering. The extent of it was heartbreaking, affecting him physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically.”
I have been sober for 17 years, and I want to acknowledge that Matthew was the one who brought me into AA on the night of my recovery.
During my entire first year of sobriety, my friend and I attended meetings together. I was able to express my gratitude to him for being such a supportive and wise person during this time. As someone who was also sober, he showed great care and generosity, and played a major role in helping me stay sober.
I truly hoped that he could have had the determination to maintain a sober lifestyle more regularly.
As someone who helps with recovery, it was difficult to read that as well. I couldn’t help but feel terrible.
I was aware that he had come and gone over the years and he shared all of it openly, both online and in his book. However, for those of us who were close to him and knew him intimately, it’s devastating that we didn’t have him with us.
Unfortunately, we were unable to see him. One of the tragic consequences of this illness is that it robs us of the people we care for.
He excelled in his career as an actor.
I simply hope that both I and the world could have witnessed the full extent of his career.
Azaria and Perry performed in David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago at the Comedy Theatre (now the Harold Pinter Theatre) in London’s West End in 2003.
In addition to his roles in various productions, Perry expressed his desire to be recognized for his efforts in aiding others in their journey towards overcoming addiction.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, he shared, “I’ve experienced many highs and lows in my life and have received numerous awards, but the greatest aspect of my character is that if a person struggling with alcoholism approaches me for assistance in quitting, I will gladly offer my knowledge and support.”
Perry established Perry House, a sober-living facility for men in Malibu. In 2013, he participated in a BBC Newsnight debate to advocate for specialized courts where reformed addicts serve as lay magistrates, handling cases related to substance abuse.