Matthew Perry Reveals Friends Cast Salaries, And It's Not What You'd Expect
Perhaps the most surprising is the fact that Friends cast has David Schwimmer to thank for their money.
Sixty cigarettes and 55 Vicodin pills a day, fake migraines to get even more, 6,000 AA meetings, 14 surgeries, 15 times in rehab, 65 times in detox, being on life support and up to $9 million dollars spent trying to get sober – Matthew Perry has told the story of his life in his new memoir, "Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing," which amounts to no less than a non-stop struggle with drugs and alcohol.
Perry confessed that by the age of 18 he was drinking consistently and it was getting even worse as he started taking Vicodin, a pain medication, after a jet ski accident in Las Vegas. It marked the beginning of his long-lasting drug addiction. At a certain point his colon exploded and he spent two weeks in a coma but he survived.
During COVID Perry was in a Swiss rehab where he faked pain to get 1,800 milligrams of Oxycontin and ketamine infusions daily; the actor was also given a shot of Propofol, normally used to put you to sleep and keep you asleep during general anesthesia. As a result his heart stopped for five minutes and he woke up in a different clinic with 8 of his ribs broken following a CPR. Perry also spent $350,000 dollars on private jets to commute from Switzerland to America and back after he's learned he wouldn't be getting the same medication in L.A.
He wrote that viewers "can follow the trajectory" of his addiction from his weight:
"When I'm carrying weight, it's alcohol; when I'm skinny, it's pills. When I have a goatee, it's lots of pills."
But surely his life was not only about fighting the addiction but also about acting. He admitted he went on to make more than $1 million a week on Friends, thanks to David Schwimmer. The unexpected thing, though, is the cast asking to do fewer episodes – despite getting a million per each.
"By season eight, we were making a million dollars per episode; by season ten we were making even more. We were making $1,100,040 an episode, and we were asking to do fewer episodes. Morons, all of us. We had David's goodness, and his astute business sense, to thank for what we had been offered. I owe you about $30 million, David. (We were still morons.)"
His book mentions numerous Friends secrets; for example, the actor shared a little known fact that when he was a kid, he actually created the "Chandler speak" that would later become so famous — as a way to make people laugh. And he also thanked his co-stars for their support when he most needed it. After Season 5, Perry's Friends cast and crew approached him about his problems with drugs and alcohol. Season 9 was the only season Perry was fully sober for. It was also the only time he was nominated for an Emmy for the series.