Matthew Perry's forthcoming memoir continues to make headlines as the Friends alum opens up about his crippling addiction to alcohol and opioids for the first time. In Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry reveals his heart stopped beating for five minutes while at a treatment center in Switzerland where he was still feeding his pill habit. It cost him a role in last year's star-studded political satire Don't Look Up.
Perry, who is 18 months sober, secretly went to the luxury rehab facility sometime in the last two years. According to an excerpt of his book obtained by Rolling Stone, the actor convinced doctors that he had severe stomach pain so they'd prescribe him drugs.
"In fact, I was OK," he writes.
Perry was prescribed hydrocodone, but to ease the pain further, doctors decided to "put some kind of weird medical device in my back." The night before the surgery, he stayed up taking pills. When he was administered the anesthesia drug propofol ahead of the operation, Perry's heart stopped.
"I was given the shot at 11:00 a.m.," he pens. "I woke up eleven hours later in a different hospital. Apparently, the propofol had stopped my heart. For five minutes. It wasn't a heart attack — I didn't flatline — but nothing had been beating. I was told that some beefy Swiss guy really didn't want the guy from Friends dying on his table and did CPR on me for the full five minutes, beating and pounding my chest. If I hadn't been on Friends, would he have stopped at three minutes? Did Friends save my life again?"
Perry adds: "He may have saved my life, but he also broke eight of my ribs."
While the medical scare took a physical toll on Perry, it impacted his career, too. The actor was set to appear alongside Meryl Streep in Don't Look Up. He managed to film one scene prior to his Switzerland rehab stint, but it didn't make the movie's final cut. After nearly dying on the operating table, he was in too much pain to return to the set of Adam McKay's film. Perry says it would have been the "biggest movie I'd gotten ever."
Switzerland wasn't Perry's only brush with death. In 2018, his colon burst from opioid misuse. At one point Perry was drinking vodka by the quart and taking 55 Vicodin a day. He also abused OxyContin and Xanax. The actor estimates he's spent $9 million getting sober — which he was finally able to do ahead of the Friends reunion in April 2021.
MORE: Matthew Perry shares addiction story in new memoir: 'I'm grateful to be alive'