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George Clooney reveals "Friends" didn't bring Matthew Perry joy: "He wasn't happy"

Matthew Perry died from effects of ketamine
Matthew Perry died from effects of ketamine, autopsy finds 00:27

Actor George Clooney has opened up about his friendship with the late Matthew Perry, who a Los Angeles County medical examiner revealed last week died from the acute effects of ketamine earlier this year. Clooney said despite Perry being on one of the most successful TV shows of all time, "he wasn't happy."

In an interview with Deadline, Clooney, 62, reminisced about when he was taping "ER" – the long-running medical drama he starred on for one season – on a soundstage right next to "Friends," the hit sitcom Perry and his five castmates starred on for 10 years. "And 'Friends,' man, that was a fun time to watch those guys," Clooney said. "We were all really close."

Most of the cast members on each show were not yet famous, Clooney noted, but he said he and Perry went back even longer. 

"I knew Matt when he was 16 years old," Clooney said. "We used to play paddle tennis together. He's about 10 years younger than me. And he was a great, funny, funny, funny kid."

Clooney remembered Perry once saying: "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 said, referring to "Friends." 

"He wasn't happy. It didn't bring him joy or happiness or peace," he continued. "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. 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."

1998 ShoWest
Mark Wahlberg, Matthew Perry, Salma Hayek, George Clooney & Dylan McDermott at Showest '98 in Las Vegas. 13 (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc) Jeff Kravitz

Perry opened up about his struggles with addiction in a memoir published in 2022. In October he was found unresponsive in the hot tub at his Los Angeles-area home. He was 54.

The recently released autopsy report said the death was accidental and that no signs of foul play were suspected. "Acute effects of ketamine" was listed as the cause of death, with contributing factors listed as "drowning, coronary artery disease and buprenorphine effects." Buprenorphine is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder.

Clooney said Perry's unhappiness "just tells you that success and money and all those things, it doesn't just automatically bring you happiness."

"You have to be happy with yourself and your life," he said.

While Perry struggled with addiction, he told People Magazine in 2022 that "Friends" changed his life "in every way" and his co-stars were understanding and patient as he struggled with sobriety. "It's like penguins," he said. "In nature, when one is sick or very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up and walk around until that penguin can walk on its own. And that's kind of what the cast did for me."

Following his death, tributes from stars and fans poured in for Perry, including a statement and social media posts from his "Friends" co-stars. 

In an interview with Variety published last week, Jennifer Aniston said Perry was happy and healthy at the time of his death. "He had quit smoking. He was getting in shape. He was happy — that's all I know," she said in the joint interview with Reese Witherspoon, who she stars with on "The Morning Show." 

She said she exchanged texts with her close friend on the day he died. "I was literally texting with him that morning, funny Matty. He was not in pain. He wasn't struggling. He was happy," Aniston said. 

"I want people to know he was really healthy, and getting healthy. He was on a pursuit. He worked so hard. He really was dealt a tough one. I miss him dearly. We all do. Boy, he made us laugh really hard," Aniston said. 

In a tribute on Instagram, Aniston said Perry loved to make people laugh and his "life literally depended" on hearing people laugh at his jokes.

"And boy did he succeed in doing just that. He made all of us laugh. And laugh hard," she said.

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