- Matthew Perry spoke about how he got cast as Chandler Bing on “Friends” in his new memoir.
- Perry said that he got on his knees and prayed to God for fame three weeks prior to auditioning.
- Perry became known for his role, which he played throughout the show’s 10-season run on NBC.
“Friends” star Matthew Perry said that he prayed to God and asked for fame prior to auditioning for the role of Chandler Bing on the beloved sitcom.
In his new memoir titled “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” released on Tuesday, Perry detailed his rise to fame and years-long struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction.
He also explained how he got cast on “Friends,” the hit NBC show that ran for 10 seasons between 1994 and 2004, costarring David Schwimmer (Ross Geller), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), Courteney Cox (Monica Geller), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), and Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani).
“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 actor continued: “Out of nowhere, I found myself getting to my knees, closing my eyes tightly, and praying. I had never done this before.”
In his prayer, Perry said, “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 said, referring to his addictions and other hardships.
Perry was attached to a sci-fi comedy called “L.A.X. 2194,” set in the future and centered on baggage handlers at the titular airport when the script for “Friends” — then called “Friends Like Us” — became “the hot read of the season.”
“Everyone who read it knew it was going to be great,” he said.
Perry particularly related to Chandler, the sarcastic, wise-cracking member of the core 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 said.
“It wasn’t that I thought I could play ‘Chandler,’ I was Chandler,” he added.
Perry said that he was “devastated” when his agents told him that he couldn’t pursue the show because he was already attached to “L.A.X. 2194.”
To make matters worse, Perry said 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.”
“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,” he said. “And still I would call my agents every three or four days begging for a chance.”
Perry said he was “crushed” when his good friend Craig Bierko ended up getting offered the role of Chandler, but told him he should accept the “Friends” role.
Instead, Bierko turned “Friends” down in favor of another show he was offered, “Best Friends.”
After “L.A.X. 2194” failed to get picked up as a series, Perry became available and got a life-changing phone call about meeting “Friends” cocreator Marta Kauffman.
Perry said that at that point, he knew the script so well that he “nailed” all of his auditions. He even incorporated a unique cadence of putting emphases on unexpected words, which was a way of talking that he developed in the 1980s with his friends Chris and Brian Murray and would become a signature aspect of the character.
Perry was the final actor cast on “Friends” and said that Bierko’s “desire to be the star of his own show, rather than be part of an ensemble, saved my life.”