- Matthew Perry said that he and his “Friends” costars partied in Vegas prior to the show’s premiere.
- Perry said “Friends” director James Burrows gave all six stars $100 each to enjoy their anonymity.
- “We six new friends got drunk and gambled and wandered through the casinos,” he said in his memoir.
Matthew Perry said that he and his “Friends” costars partied in Las Vegas, Nevada, before the show premiered on NBC and became a phenomenon.
Perry, who starred as Chandler Bing, wrote about his rise to fame in his memoir titled “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” released on Tuesday.
The actor said that he was certain the sitcom would be a hit back when he read the script prior to auditioning. He said this his belief was solidified when the six core cast members — Perry, David Schwimmer (Ross Geller), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green), Courteney Cox (Monica Geller), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay), and Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani) — had their first table read for the “Friends.”
Perry said that the cast jetted off to multiple upfronts, events in which a show is presented to network affiliates and advertisers, prior to the show’s fall premiere in 1994.
“I filled that summer with three notable things — gambling in Vegas at the behest of [‘Friends’ director] Jimmy Burrows; a trip to Mexico on my own; and a make-out session in a closet with Gwyneth Paltrow.”
“After the upfronts it was clear the show was going to be a hit, so Jimmy flew us all to Vegas on the jet — we watched the pilot of ‘Friends’ on the way — and once we arrived, he gave us each $100 and told us to go gamble it and have fun, because once the show aired in the fall, we’d never be able to do it again,” Perry recalled.
The “17 Again” star recalled Burrows warning the cast that their lives would change soon, so they should take the opportunity to “do some things in public now because once you’re as famous as you’re about to be, you’ll never be able to do them again.”
“And that’s what we did; we six new friends got drunk and gambled and wandered through the casinos, just six close strangers on a weekend trip, unknown to anyone, no one asking for autographs or photos, none of us being chased by paparazzi, a million miles from what was coming, which was every single moment of our lives being documented in public for all to see forever,” Perry wrote.
Perry’s not the only “Friends” cast or crew member to talk about this memorable moment.
In his memoir titled “Directed by James Burrows,” released in June 2022, the titular director wrote about the aforementioned trip to Vegas.
“None of them had any money at that point either, so I gave each of them a couple of hundred bucks to go gamble,” he said. “I laid out $1,400. If the math doesn’t seem right, it’s because LeBlanc had no idea how to play craps and he lost his two hundred dollars in seconds, so I gave him another two hundred.”
Burrows said that after the show premiered, “they each wrote me reimbursement checks for the money I gave them.”
Cox also shared a photo of the cast on their way to Vegas in the jet and Aniston told Ellen DeGeneres that the cast felt “so fancy” when Burrows treated them to dinner at Spago at Caesar’s Palace.
Aniston also recalled the director telling the actors, “‘This world can be pretty dark, and you guys gotta really stick together and take care of each other.’”
“Friends” went on to run for 10 seasons between 1994 and 2004, with more than 60 Emmy nominations and six total wins.
The cast members — particularly Aniston, Cox, and Kudrow — continue to remain close and most recently reunited for an unscripted special for HBO Max, released in May 2021.