Chandler Bing may have been hopeless and awkward and desperate for love, but Matthew Perry, by all accounts, was brilliant and kind and always the funniest person in the room. Those were the traits emphasized by friends, family, and colleagues across Hollywood in the wake of news that the actor had been found dead at the age of 54.
“This truly is The One Where Our Hearts Are Broken,” read a joint statement from Friends co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, as well as executive producer Kevin Bright.
“We are shocked and deeply, deeply saddened by our beloved friend Matthew’s passing,” they wrote. “We will always cherish the joy, the light, the blinding intelligence he brought to every moment – not just to his work, but in life as well. He was always the funniest person in the room. More than that, he was the sweetest, with a giving and selfless heart.”
Warner Bros. TV, the production powerhouse behind Friends, told The Hollywood Reporter that it was “devastated” by Perry’s death.
“The impact of his comedic genius was felt around the world, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of so many,” its statement continued. “This is a heartbreaking day, and we send our love to his family, his loved ones, and all of his devoted fans.”
NBC, which broadcast Friends for 10 years, said in a statement: “We are incredibly saddened by the too soon passing of Matthew Perry. He brought so much joy to hundreds of millions of people around the world with his pitch perfect comedic timing and wry wit. His legacy will live on through countless generations.”
Perry’s family told People they were “heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother,” adding that he “brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend.” The statement was not attributed to any specific members of the star’s family; he was raised by his father, John Bennett Perry; mother, Suzanne Morrison; and stepfather, Keith Morrison of NBC’s Dateline.
Though the other five Friends—Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer—had not publicly addressed the news of Perry’s death by Sunday evening, other actors who’d appeared on the show alongside him took to social media to remember his spirit and acting talent.
Maggie Wheeler, the actor behind Chandler’s nasally love interest Janice, mourned her former co-star on Instagram. “What a loss,” she wrote. “The world will miss you, Matthew Perry. The joy you brought to so many in your too-short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared.”
Morgan Fairchild, who played Chandler’s mother, tweeted that she was “heartbroken about the untimely death of my ‘son.’” She called the loss of “such a brilliant young actor” a “shock.”
Paget Brewster, Kathy from Friends’ fourth season, wrote that she was “so very sad to hear about @MatthewPerry. He was lovely to me on Friends and every time I saw him in the decades after. Please read his book. It was his legacy to help. He won’t rest in peace though.. He’s already too busy making everyone laugh up there.”
Hank Azaria, who played Phoebe Buffay’s on-and-off love interest David and appeared in several episodes of Friends, spoke about his friendship with Perry at length in an emotional video posted to Instagram on Sunday, saying the other actor was “the first friend I made in Los Angeles.”
“Matthew and I became really good friends and we were really more like brothers for a long time,” Azaria said. “We drank a lot together, we laughed a lot together, we were there for each other in the early days of our career.”
“I really loved him. A lot of us who were close to him felt like we lost him to drugs and alcohol a long time ago because—as he documented in his autobiography—there was so much suffering,” he continued. “I had to pick up and put down that biography, like, 11 times, it was so painful for me to read.”
The Simpsons star credited Perry with kickstarting his own recovery, however, saying “Matthew brought me” to his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. “He was so caring and giving and wise. And he totally helped me get sober.”
Selma Blair, a Friends guest actor, shared a picture of herself and Perry on Instagram, captioning it: “My oldest boy friend. All of us loved Matthew Perry, and I did especially. Every day. I loved him unconditionally. And he me. And I’m broken. Broken hearted. Sweet dreams Matty. Sweet dreams.”
James Burrows, a director with 15 episodes of Friends under his belt, wrote simply: “Nobody did it better.”
Co-stars from other projects and actors who’d crossed paths with Perry both before and after his Friends era also recalled him fondly, including several actors who worked alongside him on CBS’ The Odd Couple, which Perry also developed and executive produced.
“Matthew Perry was my boss, my colleague, and a giving, kind, funny man,” Wendell Pierce tweeted. “I pray and hope he is at peace.”
“I am too sad about the news to say more than this: @mattyperry4 was a sweetheart who deserved more peace in this life,” Yvette Nicole Brown wrote. “54 is too young to go. We love you, Matty!”
Lisa Ann Walter recalled her favorite scene from 2000’s The Whole Nine Yards in which Perry’s character “runs full force into a patio door,” writing on X that she told Perry about her love for the bit when they worked together on The Odd Couple. “He smiled so big I though he’d crack his face,” she added. “It was beautiful.”
Rumer Willis remembered hanging out as a child with Perry and her father, Bruce Willis, as they shot The Whole Nine Yards. On her Instagram Story, she said that “was so kind and funny and sweet with my sisters and me and I think his physical Comedy and that movie still makes me laugh so much.”
“I know he had many challenges in his life and brought a lot of joy to people with his comedy,” Willis added. “I hope he can rest peacefully.”
Shannen Doherty, the Beverly Hills, 90210 star who acted alongside Perry when he guest-starred on the show’s first season, shared that the pair had gone on a Valentine’s Day date before cementing their “lifetime” friendship.
“We were a gang way back… You would always find us all together in a booth speaking in our own made up language. And yes, Matt always had THAT sense of humor,” Doherty wrote. “I could be more poetic or say things better but right now, shock and sadness prevail.”
Some Friends fans in New York City also flocked to pay tribute, making pilgrimages to the Greenwich Village building used as the exterior shot for the group’s apartment.
“You are so loved and will be missed for generations,” one sign left at the site read, according to Deadline. “Thank you for being our friend.”
Nick at Nite, which airs Friends in syndication, said that it would broadcast a tribute special to the actor at 10 p.m. on Sunday. Matthew Perry: Thanks for Being a Friend is set to include fan-favorite episodes, as well as never-before-seen interviews with Perry and behind-the-scenes moments from the set.