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George Clooney Says Matthew Perry’s ‘Success and Money’ Didn’t Make Him ‘Happy’

George Clooney Says Young Matthew Perry Wasn t Happy During Friends
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George Clooney remembers being “really close” with the Friends cast, including the late Matthew Perry, when they were both on hit NBC shows together.

“I knew Matt when he was 16 years old. We used to play paddle tennis together,” Clooney, 62, told Deadline in an interview published on Tuesday, December 19. “He’s about 10 years younger than me. And he was a great, funny, funny, funny kid.”

Clooney recalled how badly Perry wanted to get cast as a regular on a TV show.

“All he would say to us — I mean me, [actor] Richard Kind and [filmmaker] Grant Heslov — was, ‘I just want to get on a sitcom, man. I just want to get on a regular sitcom, and I would be the happiest man on earth.’ And he got on probably one of the best ever,” Clooney recalled, noting that even though Perry nabbed a starring role as Chandler Bing on Friends, the late star “wasn’t happy.”

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Because both ER and Friends were filmed “side by side” on the same NBC soundstage, Clooney had a lot of face time with Perry while they were on their respective sets. ER aired from 1994 to 2009 while Friends aired from 1994 to 2004. (Clooney also made a surprise appearance on one episode of Friends in 1995.)

“It didn’t bring him joy or happiness or peace. And watching that go on on the lot — we were at Warner Brothers, we were there right next to each other — it was hard to watch because we didn’t know what was going through him,” Clooney explained, referring to Perry’s addiction struggles. “We just knew that he wasn’t happy and I had no idea he was doing what, 12 Vicodin a day and all the stuff he talked about, all that heartbreaking stuff.”

Clooney alluded to Perry’s story being a lesson.

“It also just tells you that success and money and all those things, it doesn’t just automatically bring you happiness,” he explained. “You have to be happy with yourself and your life.”

George Clooney Says Young Matthew Perry Wasn t Happy During Friends
Mark Wahlberg, Matthew Perry, Salma Hayek, George Clooney & Dylan McDermott, 1998. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Perry died on October 28 at age 54. Police officers responding to a call for a cardiac arrest found the actor unresponsive in the hot tub at his Los Angeles home. Initially, Perry’s cause of death was “deferred” pending a toxicology report. On December 15, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s report revealed that Perry had died from “the acute effects of ketamine.”

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Prior to his passing, Perry wrote about taking ketamine “to ease pain and help with depression,” in his Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing memoir, which was released late last year.

“Ketamine was a very popular street drug in the 1980s. There is a synthetic form of it now,” Perry wrote at the time, noting that he felt like he was “dying” while going through the treatments.

“It was something different, and anything different is good,” he shared in the book. “Taking K is like being hit in the head with a giant happy shovel. But the hangover was rough and outweighed the shovel.”

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