Matthew Perry Reveals He Had Anxiety While Shooting Friends
The long-awaited Friends: The Reunion finally aired on HBO's streaming platform on May 27, 2021, and with it came a few never-before-heard insights into the fan-favorite sitcom.
One such revelation being that Matthew Perry, who most people know as Chandler Bing from Friends, routinely suffered from anxiety during filming.
Perry Felt Like He Would Die
All six of the core cast of Friends — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer — reunited on the show's original soundstage in Burbank, California.
Naturally, the reunion had the cast members discussing their experience filming the sitcom in front of a live studio audience every week.
Right about then, Perry came forth with a candid confession. He said,
To me, I felt like I was going to die if they didn't laugh. And it's not healthy, for sure.
The Cast Was Just as Surprised
He further elaborated that after he had delivered his lines, sometimes the audience wouldn't laugh.
This made the 51-year-old actor so anxious that he would start sweating and having convulsions.
"If I didn't get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out," he concluded to his co-stars' surprise.
Kudrow was the first to respond, and her response led all the fans to believe that none of the cast members knew of his bizarre condition beforehand.
However, it only made Perry reassure the rest of the cast that he felt like that every single night of filming.
Later on, in the special episode, LeBlanc recalled a time when he tripped over his mark and had to re-shoot his run into the coffee shop multiple times. The audience couldn't help but laugh out loud at the situation.
Still, for Perry, it was something completely different. In his mind, Perry was struggling with the fact that someone was getting a laugh, so he needed to get a response from the audience too.
Perry Doesn't Rember Seasons 3 through 6
Also, that was not the only time that Perry came clean about the challenges he faced while filming the globally renowned sitcom.
The actor had had his share of trouble with substance abuse. In a radio interview on BBC in 2016, he admitted that his memories from the third season to the sixth season of the show were foggy.
During the time, he had been struggling with the abuse of alcohol and prescription medicine, followed by multiple visits to rehabilitation facilities.
Gauging the Audience
Perry wasn't the only one who took the audience's reaction to heart. The studio audience's response meant a lot to other cast members as well as the creators of the show.
David Crane, a co-creator of Friends, explained that the show's development process was largely driven by how the audience responded to a certain joke. "...Even if we loved that joke, they were telling us it's not good enough," he added.
Their dedication, and quite possibly a healthy dose of obsession, did in fact pay off, and despite having stopped filming after ten seasons in 2004, the sitcom became a part of pop culture.
Sadly though, Cox announced that Friends: The Reunion will be the last of its kind for the foreseeable future.