According to his new memoir, “Friends” lasted 10 seasons, while Perry’s most of the time was on a spiral, a grimly funny, mostly unpretentious, often rectal cancer “friends, lovers and scary things.” “. His struggles play out in front of millions of viewers every week.He wrote: “If you measure my weight by season, you can track the trajectory of my addiction – when I’m weight-bearing, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goateeits a lot of pill. “
This book comes at an odd point in time as our understanding of addiction continues to deepen while our tolerance for the problems of the white rich shrinks. It’s both a traditional memoir and an account of the horrific events of 2018, when Perry’s colon exploded, presumably as a side effect of his opiate use. He fell into a coma; his family was told he had a 2% chance of survival. He spent five months in hospital, nine months with a colostomy bag and numerous surgeries, detailing a harrowing ordeal. By page 11, the reader will be very familiar with the contents of Perry’s gastrointestinal tract.
In alternate chapters, the 53-year-old reflects on his childhood in Canada, the son of a beauty queen and an American folk singer-turned-actor. His parents were young, charming and distinguished. At 2 months old, Perry was given barbiturates to stop him crying. At age 5, he was sent as an unaccompanied minor to visit his father, who left when Perry was 9 months old. “The absence of parents on that flight was one of the many reasons for a lifelong feeling of abandonment,” Perry wrote.
Must See TV fans need this must-read memoir
He is a bottomless need, hungry for his mother’s approval. He is up for grabs including his stepfather, local newscaster-turned-Dateline legend Keith Morrison and the charismatic Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (for whom she served as their longtime press secretary) her attention. (Perry wrote that in elementary school, he beat Trudeau’s son, future Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in retaliation.)
Perry was emotionally estranged from his stepfather, often referring to him as “Keith Morrison,” as if he, like us, was just watching Keith Morrison on TV. When adult Perry woke from his disorienting stoop to find a worried Keith Morrison at the foot of his bed, he initially wondered if he was in the “Date Line” episode.
As a teenager, Perry moved to Los Angeles to live with his father, an alcoholic who starred in an Old Spice commercial. Perry soon followed in his father’s footsteps while pursuing a career in show business, alcoholics—he had his first drink at age 14—and once his erectile dysfunction improved, there was a wide variety of available women.
The pattern that continues to this day is that a family-hungry Perry falls in love with a series of very suitable potential wives, but rejects them before they reject him. He even dated Julia Roberts, who will appear in the second season’s post-Super Bowl episode, after wooing her via fax. When he broke up with her two months later, she stared at him puzzled, as if nothing like this had ever happened.
Desperate for fame to heal his loneliness and inadequacy, Perry recalls praying on his knees on the floor of his small apartment for the first time. “God, you can do whatever you want with me,” he wrote. “Please make me famous.”
He landed the role of Chandler three weeks later, following the death of his close friend actor Craig Bierko.
Of course, Perry became rich and famous, and Bilko—poor Craig Bilko! – became a trivia question. In one of the book’s most cringe-worthy passages, men who have been estranged for years are reunited. Bilko admitted feeling jealous of Perry, who explained that fame doesn’t fix a person anyway, which Perry sees as a major revelation, even if any reader of celebrity memoirs knows it. Bierko doesn’t seem to find this helpful.
Perry wrote that “friends” are the best jobs in the world. The co-stars sincerely adored each other, and thanks to early advice from co-star David Schwimmer, the actors negotiated their salaries as a team, and everyone became rich. By season 10, their schedule was light. “We made $1,100,040 per episode and we asked for it less episodes,” Perry recalled sadly. “Idiots, all of us. “
Perry went deeper into his addiction, which reached twisting speeds when he was introduced to painkillers after a jet ski accident on a movie set. It is here that a familiar pattern emerges: Despite his occasional soberness, Perry spends most of the rest of the book traveling between a series of increasingly luxurious rehab centers. He was better sometimes, but never better. Everyone is always vaguely worried about him, but people tend to let celebrities fend for themselves before they pose an immediate threat to other people’s livelihoods. Jennifer Aniston once tried an awkward little intervention without success.
Aniston, like Keith Morrison and Perry’s eventual co-star Bruce Willis, emerges here as a warm, if half-baked character. The more Perry likes celebrities, the less he mentions them, as if out of professional courtesy.
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Others bring out an underlying sharpness that always seems to be brewing beneath the surface of Perry’s “good guys”. He was (understandably) upset when the stoned Cameron Diaz accidentally hit him in the face. He has repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction that Keanu Reeves, certainly the mildest man imaginable, is still alive. He’s unhappy to report that former co-star Salma Hayek “always had a very detailed and lengthy idea of how to make a scene, but her lengthy ideas didn’t always help.” To the average person, this may seem like mild criticism, but in the manner of celebrity exaggeration, it’s a WWE-style hit.
“Friends” viewers seem familiar with Perry’s witty conversational, self-deprecating style; it’s like Chandler’s clever version of a book. He’s easy to like, even if he’s tricky, as easy to get along with as someone with multiple Banksys and the gift of repeatedly ruining his own life.
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Years of Olympic-level addiction had destroyed his pleasure receptors — even if he wanted to relapse, the drugs probably wouldn’t work. If that meant his brain was no longer trying to kill him, he’d switch places with any of his poorer, lesser-known friends—even the guy who was diabetic and lived in an apartment. “Without that, I’d give up everything,” Perry wrote. “No one believes this, but it’s true.”
Alison Stewart writes about pop culture, music and politics for The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. She is writing a book on the history of the space program.
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