Comedian D.L. Hughley remembered Matthew Perry’s generosity of spirit when he heard about his former co-star’s tragic death.
Hughley co-starred as comedian Simon Stiles opposite Perry’s co-executive producer Matt Albie in “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” Aaron Sorkin’s short-lived dramedy that aired for one season on NBC (2006-2007).
“I was on the road [when Perry died] and I instantly flashed right back [to ‘Studio 60’],” Hughley, 60, told The Post. “It was a very late Friday night and my son had turned 18, so I was going to take him out and we were going to hang out all night.
“But we were running over [in the shooting schedule] and we got behind,” he said. “And Matthew let me leave — he did something I would never do, he switched the order of things so I could leave early and be with my son.
“I didn’t ask him, but he found out about it and did that … and he had to shoot his scenes like 2 or 3 in the morning,” Hughley recalled. “So when I heard he had died I flashed back to that moment.”
“Studio 60” was Perry’s first series after “Friends” ended its historic 10-year run on NBC and, with Sorkin on board as the creator/executive producer, and Perry as its star, the expectations were sky-high.
The hourlong series chronicled life behind-the-scenes at a network sketch-comedy show and co-starred Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson and Nate Corddry.
It premiered to over 13 million viewers but then slipped before NBC pulled the plug after 22 episodes.
Hughley said that Perry never let the pressure impact his relationship with the cast and crew.
“It was a tough situation and Matthew was the lead and it was the first time I understood what being No. 1 on the call sheet meant,” he said. “Matthew led by example. We had to remember all the lines and had to be exact, and though it was a lot of fun and interesting it was also very challenging — and he just made it so much easier.
“This was a big project with pressure all its own but you would never know that by the way he comported himself and by the way he interacted with us.”
Part of the actors’ challenge was the “walk-and-talk” scenes that Sorkin was noted for in his previous series, “The West Wing.”
“I remember Matthew coming to my dressing room a number of times because those walk-and-talks were something I never experienced before,” Hughley recalled. “So he would literally not take lunch and come to my dressing room … and work with me so I got it. He was very funny and very gracious and really taught me what being the lead of such a big production could be.”
Hughley was aware of Perry’s well-publicized addiction battles coming into the project but said that never reared its head during production, as far as he could tell.
“I knew, of course, of the stuff he’d gone through. We have an expression, ‘He didn’t look like what he’d been through’ and that was true in his case. The light wasn’t out of his eyes and he didn’t look like he’d succumbed to it and was going through the motions.
“I was kind of pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case,” he said. “For a guy that had all those demons, and that level of success, it could have gone a lot differently.”
And, he feels, Perry had much left in the tank at the time of his death.
“In my world, in comedy, we say, ‘He still has dates on the books,’ meaning someone is still relevant, still in the fight, toeing the line.
“Matthew could still do it,” he said. “He could still make things happen.”
This story originally appeared on NY Post