‘He had such a wealth of soul’: Matthew Perry remembered by Minnie Driver

‘He had such a wealth of soul’: Matthew Perry remembered by Minnie Driver

The humorous factor in Hollywood is that you just meet individuals at occasions on a regular basis, so I’d met Matthew earlier than we acted collectively [in the 2003 London production of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago]. However once we have been first rehearsing, I wished to speak to him correctly. I used to be going for lunch with my household, and I bear in mind calling him, saying, do you thoughts coming to fulfill us, and he was really easy about it. The restaurant put us within the again away from individuals, however when he walked in… the entire place lit up. The entire place smiled.

Matthew was so beautiful with my household, but additionally instructed me instantly how terrified he was to do that play, as was I. We felt that vulnerability, being individuals who weren’t theatre actors placing ourselves up on stage when all people knew us and was prepared to guage us. It’s humorous while you forge a connection over concern, however we did that summer time.

We have been fairly younger, in our early 30s, simply having a very good time. We frolicked in Hyde Park within the sunshine consuming ice-creams. I took him to a pal’s marriage ceremony, the place he may chat with fairly ladies and be regular. We additionally bonded over tennis and went to Wimbledon tons – the one bother being we couldn’t make it again from there in time for the theatre, so I’d make him get these mad lifts on the again of a bike from Addison Lee. Matthew would say: “We are able to’t do this. We’re undoubtedly going to die.” However we didn’t, rushing by London with our helmets on. We had that good feeling of having fun with England within the summertime.

Matthew was one of many quickest individuals you’ll ever come throughout, ruthlessly humorous within the methods he’d react to individuals. He wouldn’t allow you to get away with something. Invariably, I might inform actually lengthy tales and he’d at all times do that brilliantly timed bit the place he’d nod off within the center – so humorous – however he wasn’t imply in any manner. He was essentially the most self-deprecating individual and actually variety. Anybody who requested him for assist, he would assist.

Since Matthew wrote his lovely e-book [2022’s Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing], all people is aware of about his struggles with dependancy. I discovered it extremely arduous to learn and needed to put it down and decide it up once more – it felt insufferable, how a lot he suffered. He had been in a superb place once we have been doing the play, however the factor about him was he was like a light-weight. He was a kind of individuals who simply made different individuals really feel good. Someway, they don’t suck you down into their disappointment, or their ache, and I do know now that his ache was nice.

That summer time, he was additionally loving exploring this world outdoors Buddies [which finished a year later in 2004], very intentionally dwelling and dealing as an actor. And Matthew, we mustn’t neglect, was an excellent actor. I just lately appeared on the opinions for our play – and his have been all actually good, aside from one. I bear in mind his response to it: “Some individuals solely need Chandler, and I don’t know that I’m allowed to be something apart from that.” That character was going to be iconic and beloved for ever, however clearly, there was a lot extra to him. See the dramatic features he brings out in Studio 60 on the Sundown Strip and the Scott Silveri sitcom Go On, exploring abilities that have been a lot deeper and darker.

Driver and Perry in David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago on the Comedy Theatre, London, 2003. {Photograph}: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

However he knew that Buddies was by no means going to let him go. It was a fairly tight yoke. A part of Matthew’s internal wrestle was that he was so carefully recognized with a task that was additionally beloved to him – one which he was so good at. However it additionally held him in a selected place, so it felt like a tug of battle. I additionally suppose when you wrestle with dependancy and you’ve got this extraordinary, rarefied life the place individuals love you so fully, it’s at all times tough to come back to phrases with the opportunity of your fallibility.

We noticed one another after that in Malibu, the place we each lived – we’d stumble upon one another within the little market the place you get espresso on the weekend, and it was at all times so good to see him. I final noticed him on his e-book tour final 12 months. It was such a reduction listening to him say that by placing all that robust stuff on the market, he’d exorcised it in a manner. I’m extremely grateful that he acquired to have the expertise of how a lot individuals beloved that e-book, and beloved him, outdoors of Buddies. In the end, it appeared like a optimistic factor.

You realize individuals say don’t meet your idols? All the pieces that we beloved about Chandler was in there in Matthew, however it was simply the tip of the iceberg. He was that humorous, charming and self-deprecating, but additionally rather more. He had such a wealth of soul.

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