Matthew Perry Remembered In Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, journalist Adrian Harewood and others recall the late actor as a talented kid from Ottawa.
Hollywood is still processing the sudden loss of Canadian actor Matthew Perry, who died this weekend at 54. Closer to home, many Canadians are feeling the impact of Perry’s passing and sharing remembrances of the actor’s wit and charm. As in the music world, where Adele and Charlie Puth paid tribute to Perry this weekend, many who grew up with him are also remembering the departed star.
Perry rose to fame as the wise-cracking Chandler on ‘90s sitcom sensation Friends, but before that he was a Canadian kid with starry eyes and clear talent. Perry grew up with his mom Suzanne Perry, who worked as press secretary for former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. They spent time in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, and Perry grew up with Trudeau’s son, Justin.
The younger Trudeau remembered Perry fondly in a tribute shared on X (despite Perry joking for years that he had actually bullied the current Prime Minister when they were kids).
Perry's family, which includes his stepfather, Dateline and former CBC and CTV correspondent Keith Morrison, also shared a statement." We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother," they said.
Another of Perry’s former classmates, broadcaster Adrian Harewood, shared a moving thread about Perry, recalling how gifted and ambitious Perry was at a young age.
Harewood describes playing on sports teams with Perry and travelling to England together with their school choir. “We used to say Matthew Perry introduced a particular brand of sarcasm to Ottawa in the early 1980s,” Harewood says.
After high school, Perry moved to California, following in his father’s footsteps to pursue acting. He was just 24 when Friends started airing. Gwyneth Paltrow remembers a summer she spent with Perry during this time, before his life transformed:
Friends quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Amidst a stellar cast, Perry stood out for imbuing Chandler with his sardonic sensibility. Even as the show veered towards a fantasy of young life in New York, Perry’s Chandler had an edge that kept him feeling real.
He was a big local sports fan, and often included Toronto Blue Jays easter eggs in shots on Friends and in interviews. Hometown hockey team the Ottawa Senators shared their condolences for the hometown hero, too:
During Friends’ run, Perry also starred in movies like Fools Rush In and The Whole Nine Yards. At the same time, he began struggling with substance abuse. Perry became addicted to painkillers following a 1997 jet ski accident. He went to rehab in 2001.
After Friends, Perry had memorable roles on The West Wing, The Good Wife and more, while also speaking openly about his efforts to stay sober. In writing his 2016 play The End of Longing, he sought to speak to people who shared his struggle.
In 2022, Perry became a best-selling author with his memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, which he promoted in Canada and beyond.
In an interview with CBC Q about the memoir, Perry told Power how he would like to be remembered.
Matthew Perry shares his incredible story of survival and why fame wasn't the answer to his problemswww.youtube.com
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life but the best thing about me, bar none, is that if an alcoholic or drug addict comes up to me and says, ‘Will you help me?’ I will always say ‘Yes, I know how to do that. I will do that for you, even if I can’t always do it for myself.’ So I do that, whenever I can. In groups, or one on one.”
Perry turned his L.A. home into a sober-living house for men, Perry House, which was open until 2015.
“When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends. And I’m glad of that, happy I’ve done some solid work as an actor, as well as given people multiple chances to make fun of my struggles on the world wide web…
But when I die, as far as my so-called accomplishments go, it would be nice if Friends were listed far behind the things I did to try to help other people. I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice.”