'My heart stopped for 5 minutes': Matthew Perry on why he gave up the 'biggest movie' of his career

'My heart stopped for 5 minutes': Matthew Perry on why he gave up the 'biggest movie' of his career
Matthew Perry is best known for his role as Chandler Bing on 'Friends' (Frederick M Brown/Getty Images)

In his new memoir titled 'Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing', actor Matthew Perry revealed that he was supposed to be part of the 2021 apocalyptic political satire 'Don't Look Up' but was forced to exit due to a sudden health scare. 

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The Oscar-nominated film would have been Perry's "biggest movie." But he had to give it a pass after his heart stopped for a few minutes while he was at a treatment center in Switzerland, reports People. He had already filmed a group scene with actor Jonah Hill, something that did not make the final cut of the movie. The shooting of the scene had required the 53-year-old to be on 1,800 milligrams of hydrocodone while filming. 

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Actor/Executive Producer Matthew Perry speaks onstage during 'The Odd Couple' panel as part of  the CBS/Showtime 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on January 12, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
Actor/Executive Producer Matthew Perry speaks onstage during 'The Odd Couple' panel (Frederick M Brown/Getty Images)

Directed by Adam McKay, the star-studded movie featured Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Cate Blanchett among others. According to Perry, he was set to star opposite Streep, who portrayed President Orlean in the movie that took on the theme of mass indifference to climate change and the crisis that ensues. His three scenes with 'The Devil Wears Prada' star did not see culmination. 

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According to the memoir, Perry, 53, was given propofol for anesthesia in advance for a surgery that aimed to "put some kind of weird medical device in [his] back." As per reports from Rolling Stone, he was "given the shot at 11.00 am", and "woke up 11 hours later in a different hospital." The sedative seemed to have "stopped [his] heart. For five minutes. It wasn't a heart attack — I didn't flatline — but nothing had been beating," revealed the 'Friends' actor. 

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(L-R) Tyler Perry, Scott Stuber, Jennifer Lawrence, Tomer Sisley, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Himesh Patel, Kid Cudi, Adam McKay, Ron Perlman, Kira Goldberg, Kevin Messick, and Paul Guilfoyle attend the
The ensemble cast of 'Don't Look Up' (L-R) Tyler Perry, Scott Stuber, Jennifer Lawrence, Tomer Sisley, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Himesh Patel, Kid Cudi, Adam McKay, Ron Perlman, Kira Goldberg, Kevin Messick, and Paul Guilfoyle attend the 'Don't Look Up' World Premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Netflix)

As it turns out, the hit sitcom that first brought him fame seemed to have been his lifesaver years after it met its conclusion. In his memoir, Perry recalled being told that "some beefy Swiss guy really didn't want the guy from Friends dying on his table" which prompted the medic to perform CPR on the actor "for the full five minutes, beating and pounding [his] chest." Perry contemplates, "If I hadn't been on Friends, would he have stopped at three minutes? Did Friends save my life again?"

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The medical emergency was certainly a serious one as the actor confesses that while the doctor "may have saved [his] life," he had broken eight ribs while performing CPR on the actor. The circumstances surrounding his health were too severe and the pain was too overwhelming that Perry had to make the "heartbreaking" decision to pull out of McKay's movie.

Perry's memoir, out on November 1, reveals the actor's struggle with alcoholism and addiction and features his reflections on sobriety, mortality and all that constitutes the path to recovery. 



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