“Friends” creator Marta Kauffman was nervous about Matthew Perry’s appearance on HBO Max’s “Friends” special in 2021 due to his past struggles.
“Yes, I was concerned about him,” she told Today show’s Hoda Kotb in a pre-taped interview, which aired on Wednesday. “Knowing that he’d been through everything he’d been through, and every time he had surgery they’re giving him opioids for pain, and the cycle starts over again.”
“So, yes, I was concerned about what point in the cycle he was in that moment.”
Just days before the highly anticipated gathering — which brought together Perry and his former co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — Perry had “emergency dental surgery.”
“They did all sorts of things,” the actor told Diane Sawyer during a sit-down that aired in October 2022, adding that the procedure “made [his] mouth feel like fire.”
Fans noticed Perry’s slurred speech during the two-hour special.
“It sounded like my voice was off,” Perry acknowledged Sawyer. But he added that he knew he “couldn’t not show up” to the big event.
“So what I chose to do was just go and do the best that I could,” he continued, noting that he did a “wear and tear on his voice and speech” at the time.
At the time, viewers speculated that it was a deeper issue due to Perry’s years-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction. He opened up about his struggles and sobriety in his 2022 memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” which hit bookshelves one year ago on Nov. 1.
Days before the memoir anniversary, Perry was found dead at age 54 at his California home on Saturday. He was found underwater in his hot tub and was unresponsive at the scene when first responders arrived.
Prescription medications were found in his home. However, no drugs were found at the scene and no foul play is suspected. On Wednesday, TMZ reported that initial tests show that his death was not the result of a fentanyl or meth overdose.
His cause of death has been “deferred” and more tests — including toxicology — have been ordered. Results can take months.
Kauffman — alongside co-creator David Crane — spoke with Perry just two weeks before his passing.
“He seemed better than I had seen in a while. I was so thrilled to see that. He was emotionally in a good place. He looked good. He quit smoking,” she recalled of their last exchange.
Kaufmann added: “He learned things throughout this, and what he learned more than anything is that he wants to help other addicts. And it gave him purpose.”
On Monday, Perry’s co-stars also broke their silence on his death in a joint statement to People.
“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,” read their statement. “There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.”
“In time we will say more, as and when we are able,” the statement continued. “For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”
The message was signed by Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc and Schwimmer. Schwimmer, for his part, was photographed in NYC that same day looking distraught while leaving his residence.
Crane agreed with the cast’s sentiment that the group was very much a family.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said on Today. “And you put six actors together on a show, you don’t know what the chemistry between them is going to be as people, as actors.”
“And from day one, the six of them, it absolutely, you could tell they were going to be a family. And we all were. And in 10 years you do go through a lot. There’s a journey on screen and off screen,” he continued. “And I think when we talk about Matthew, we were all very aware that our priority was supporting him.”
This story originally appeared on NY Post