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Matthew Perry talks new role in "Odd Couple" revamp

Matthew Perry joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the show
Matthew Perry on remaking "The Odd Couple," substance abuse and "Friends" 07:43

In his latest endeavor, Matthew Perry brings back the laughs in CBS' revival of "The Odd Couple," but the Emmy-nominated actor remains Chandler from "Friends" in the hearts of millions. Unfortunately for those devoted fans, Perry says not to expect a reunion any time soon.

"There's been no talk of that. It's difficult to get the six of us to get together to have dinner," Perry said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."

While Perry said "it was a wonderful time in his life," that ship has sailed.

"I think the stories were told; I think we did 237 episodes, and it's sort of finished, the thing," he said.

Perry's 10-season run on "Friends" ended in 2004, but the cast still manages to make guest appearances on each others' shows. Cortney Cox appeared on Perry's show "Go On," and Perry has appeared on "Cougar Town" with Cox and "Web Therapy" with Lisa Kudrow. But with "Friends'" recent Netflix debut, Perry has attracted swarms of new, younger fans.

"People come up to me that I know were not born while we shot the show for sure and they're just surprised at how elderly I look," Perry said.

Now, Perry stars as the sloppy sports-radio host Oscar Madison on a revamp of the 1970s series, "The Odd Couple." His casting choice surprised many who felt his "Friends" persona fit better as the more domesticated half, Felix Unger.

"I think that people thought I was going to play Felix because Chandler was more Felix-y, but in my life, if you know me, I'm much more of an Oscar," Perry said.

If you went to his apartment, he said "you'd see trash, pizza boxes, just a ridiculous amount of trash."

Perry, who is also one of the show's executive producers, has been involved since the remake was pitched a year ago. There are plenty of modern twists, like online dating, but Perry said it was crucial to maintain some of the treasured aspects of the show, namely a live studio audience.

"When your audience is there you juice up your performance. ... I'm much better in front of an audience," Perry said. "I like hamming it up in front of an audience and you get an instant reaction. You get to find out right away if a joke works or if a joke doesn't work, and if a joke doesn't work they all fix it."

Another crucial piece was maintaining the classic comedic relationship between the two main characters. In the Broadway show, it was Walter Matthau and Art Carney. In the movie, it was Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon and in the original TV series, Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.

"All those people had wonderful chemistry, so the show sort of hinges on the chemistry between Oscar and Felix and I think we've found a good Oscar and Felix," Perry said.

It's no surprise then, the key to the show is the chemistry between Perry and Thomas Lennon, who Perry said fit the role almost instantly.

"We knew it right away. We read hundreds of people for this part. ... Thomas Lennon came in and didn't even read, he just came in and sort of was the character and he sort of is the character," Perry said. "He carries Purell with him all the time ... he carries Listerine with him everywhere. He's sort of a freak."

Maintaining a cast who naturally fit their individual roles, Perry hired his real-life ex-girlfriend, Lauren Graham. He said it's been great working with Graham and they were "lucky" to cast her.

"We dated a long time ago and have been friends for a very long time," he said. "And she plays my ex-wife. And the heart of Oscar is he womanizes, drinks and gambles, but he really longs for the love of his ex-wife."

Some of Oscar's characteristics aren't that far removed from Perry's personal life. He has been very open about his recovery from alcohol and drug addiction that escalated during "Friends." Now sober, Perry has supported other recovering addicts and operates a sober living center called the Perry House.

"I think people don't understand it's a disease," Perry said. "It was declared a disease in 1955 by the American Medical Association and even people in trouble with this thing don't kind of realize that they're suffering with a disease, so they blame themselves. It's important to get it out there and not have it bee a secret, so you can get the help you need."

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