Matthew Perry says he knelt down and prayed to God for fame three weeks before 'Friends' audition
'It wasn't that I thought I could play 'Chandler,' I was Chandler,' said Matthew Perry
LOS ANGELES; CALIFORNIA: Matthew Perry wrote about his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction in his new memoir, 'Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,' which was published on Tuesday, November 1. In addition, he revealed that he prayed to God and asked for fame before joining 'Friends', for Chandler Bing's audition.
He also discussed how he got cast on 'Friends,' the hit NBC show that aired for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, co-starring David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc. "About three weeks before my audition for 'Friends,' I was alone in my apartment on Sunset and Doheny, 10th floor — it was very small, but it had a great view, of course — and I was reading in the newspaper about Charlie Sheen," Perry wrote. "It said that Sheen was yet again in trouble for something, but I remember thinking, Why does he care — he's famous."
The 53-year-old continued: "Out of nowhere, I found myself getting to my knees, closing my eyes tightly, and praying. I had never done this before." Perry prayed, saying, "God, you can do whatever you want to me. Just please make me famous. Three weeks later, I got cast in 'Friends.' And God has certainly kept his side of the bargain — but the Almighty, being the Almighty, had not forgotten the first part of that prayer as well," he addressed referring to his addictions and other struggles in his statement.
When the script for 'Friends' — then known as 'Friends Like Us' — became "the hot read of the season," Perry was signed on to star in the sci-fi comedy 'L.A.X. 2194,' set in the future and centers on baggage handlers at the titular airport. "Everyone who read it knew it was going to be great," he said.
The American-Canadian actor said he connected most with Chandler, the caustic, witty member of the main cast. "When I read the script for 'Friends Like Us' it was as if someone had followed me around for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, photocopying my world-weary yet witty view of life." He added, "It wasn't that I thought I could play 'Chandler,' I was Chandler."
When his agents informed Perry that he couldn't pursue the project since he was already connected to 'L.A.X. 2194,' Perry said he was "devastated." Adding insult to injury, Perry stated that "everyone, it seemed, decided that the part of Chandler was exactly like me and came to my apartment to ask me to help them with their auditions. A few even went a long way, based on my choices and my choices alone."
Perry said, "I ended up knowing the script for 'Friends Like Us' pretty much off by heart because I'd practiced it so much with my pals — in fact, there were times I just acted Chandler out for them and told them to copy what I'd done, so sure was I that it was the right way to play him. And still, I would call my agents every three or four days begging for a chance."
When his close buddy Craig Bierko received the Chandler part offer, Perry stated he was "crushed," but advised him to accept the 'Friends' role. Instead, Bierko declined 'Friends' in favor of 'Best Friends,' another show that was given to him. After 'L.A.X. 2194' was passed up for a television series, Perry became available and received a life-changing phone call about meeting 'Friends' co-creator Marta Kauffman.
Perry claimed that at that point, he was so familiar with the screenplay that he "nailed" every audition. Even the way he spoke, which he and his friends Chris and Brian Murray devised in the 1980s and which would later come to define the character, was distinctive, with emphasis on surprising words. Bierko's "desire to be the star of his own show, rather than be part of an ensemble," according to Perry, the final actor cast on 'Friends,' "saved my life."