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Remembering 'Friends' star Matthew Perry who has died at age 54

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The LA County coroner's office hasn't yet said what caused the death of 54-year-old "Friends" actor Matthew Perry. Colleagues and friends have been sharing memories. Here's NPR's Andrew Limbong.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: There's a scene in the second season of "Friends" that really shows off Matthew Perry's range as Chandler. He's in the hall talking to Rachel, whose parents are newly divorced.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FRIENDS")

MATTHEW PERRY: (As Chandler) How are you holding up there, tiger?

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: (As Chandler) Oh, sorry. When my parents were getting divorced, I got a lot of tigers.

(LAUGHTER)

LIMBONG: And, of course, he can't resist a self-deprecating joke.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FRIENDS")

JENNIFER ANISTON: (As Rachel) How did you get through this?

PERRY: (As Chandler) Well, I relied on a carefully regimented program of denial and wetting the bed.

(LAUGHTER)

LIMBONG: But he also knew when to just shut up and go in for a hug.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FRIENDS")

PERRY: (As Chandler) Yeah, I know.

LIMBONG: "Friends" co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane and executive producer Kevin Bright issued a statement to NPR calling him a brilliant talent. Quote, "it's a cliche to say that an actor makes a role their own, but in Matthew's case, there are no truer words. From the first day we heard him embody the role of Chandler Bing, there was no one else for us." In 2007, Perry told WHYY's Fresh Air that even before "Friends," he got auditions for funny, witty roles.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

PERRY: I think that's largely due to growing up in Canada around a bunch of kind of goofy, funny people, and I just learned all these kind of comedic rhythms to make kids laugh or make girls laugh in school. And I would use those in my auditions.

LIMBONG: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to elementary school with Perry, and he posted on X, formerly Twitter, I'll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play, and I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy he brought them. Actors who have done stints on "Friends" also paid tribute to him on social media. Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler's on-again, off-again girlfriend Janice, wrote on Instagram, the world will miss you, Matthew Perry.

Andrew Limbong, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.