Matthew Perry Has Been Honest About Drug Struggles While Filming Friends, But ‘Janice’ Actress Shares What Working With Him Was Actually Like
Matthew Perry has spoken a lot over the past few months about his struggles with addiction, including how it affected his time on Friends. In his memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, the Chandler Bing actor talked about being confronted by his co-stars, being able to track his addiction through his weight fluctuation, and nearly dying. One side of the story we didn’t hear — until now — was that of Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler’s on-off girlfriend Janice.
Maggie Wheeler may not have been one of the six main actors, but with Janice appearing in 19 episodes over the course of 10 years — and at least once every season — Wheeler definitely had a front-row seat to what Matthew Perry was going through. She said she did know he was having difficulties, telling HollywoodLife:
There were times that we sat and talked about it. But Matthew is the consummate professional, and he showed up 100% to his job. Even when he was in the worst condition, he showed up, he was on time, he knew his lines.
It seems like Maggie Wheeler has only positive takeaways from her time working with Matthew Perry. She told the trade she lost a brother to drugs, so she was no stranger to addiction. However, she said it was “extraordinary” that Perry was “able to show up” the way he did, because she said his issues never affected his ability to do his job. She continued:
There was never a moment sitting on the stage with him where his struggles were evident in the work. He’s brilliant, really brilliant. . . . His humor was always there. He was always in charge of that. He always knew how to do his work. He’s such a phenomenal actor, and he’s so damn funny.
The actress has such kind words for her former scene partner, and it’s things like this that make some people think Chandler and Janice should have been endgame. (She at least deserves her own Funko Pop, am I right?) Janice appeared in earlier seasons as the girlfriend Chandler just couldn't seem to shake, even when it meant pretending to move to Yemen to get away from her. In later seasons, after Chandler got together with and eventually married Monica (Courteney Cox), Janice's nasally cries of "Oh. My. God!" continued to pop up at the most unexpected of times.
Matthew Perry said when he released his memoir that it was unlikely his Friends co-stars would read the book, since they all lived through it, but Maggie Wheeler certainly read it. She said she was so proud of him for “sharing so candidly” about his addiction, and she thinks he made a difference in the world for others who are struggling with similar issues.
Maggie Wheeler clearly still has a lot of love for Matthew Perry, just as her character always did for Chandler. If you want to see the two on screen together, you can stream all 10 seasons of Friends, including 2021’s Friends: The Reunion, with an HBO Max subscription.