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Matthew Perry's memoir press tour last year has become a treasure trove as fans find solace and inspiration in what were his last interviews.
The 54-year-old actor died Oct. 28 in an apparent drowning. His autopsy results are inconclusive pending a toxicology report. An official cause of death is expected to be released in several weeks, at the earliest. Two law enforcement sources told NBC News there were no obvious signs of trauma or foul play.
The "Friends" actor has been transparent about his alcohol and drug use. He spent upwards of $7 million in attempts to become sober, attended therapy twice a week for 30 years, spent time in a mental institution and went to rehab at least 15 times, he revealed in his memoir "Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing," released on Nov. 1, 2022.
Below, TODAY.com looks back on what Perry shared about his life and recovery in his final interviews.
Matthew Perry on the advice he would give others about life
Perry posted a series of promotional videos around the time of the book's publication. In the final one, posted to Instagram Nov. 4, 2022, Perry shared some life advice.
"I want people to understand that they're not alone. That there are people feeling exactly the way they're feeling. That their behavior is not insane. That they have a disease and it's not their fault," he said.
"There's a famous lie that people don't change. I happen to know that people do change and I see that every day. I see people getting better. I see the lights in their eyes coming on. They get through the terrible part of addiction, the detox, and they're able to live a normal life as long as they do a certain amount of work every day," he continued.
Matthew Perry on how he wants to be remembered
“I’d like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker,” Perry told Tom Power in November 2022 before a live audience in Toronto. “And his paramount thing is that he wants to help people. That’s what I want.”
In the same interview, Perry said his dreams had shifted from acting to coaching people along their sobriety journeys. Perry set up a mens’ sober living facility, Perry House, at his former Malibu home in 2013, per People.
“When I die, I don’t want ‘Friends’ to be the first thing that’s mentioned. I want that to be the first thing that’s mentioned,” he said of his work as an advocate for helping people get sober. “And I’m going to live the rest of my life proving that.”
In his memoir, Perry further reflected on his legacy, echoing what he told Power.
"I needed to realize that when I died, I wanted my 'Friends' credit to be way down on the list of things I had accomplished," he wrote. "I needed to remind myself to be nice to people — to have them bumping into me be a happy experience, not one that necessarily had to fill me with dread, as though that was all that mattered. I needed to be kind, to love well, to listen better, to give unconditionally. It was time to stop being such a scared a--hole and realize that as situations came up, I would be able to handle them. Because I was strong."
Matthew Perry on sobriety
Perry shared in his memoir that he nearly died at age 49 due to his colon bursting as a result of overusing opioids. He was in a coma for two weeks, in the hospital for five months and used a colostomy bag for nine months. He was also put on an ECMO machine that breathed for him.
Over the years, Perry has had 14 stomach surgeries, People reported in an October 2022 interview with the actor, who was sober at the time of the interview.
“That’s a lot of reminders to stay sober,” he told the outlet of his surgical scars. “All I have to do is look down.”
He added that his therapist, paired with the near death experience, helped him become sober.
"My therapist said, ‘The next time you think about taking Oxycontin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,’” Perry said. “And a little window opened and I crawled through it and I no longer want Oxycontin anymore.”
Matthew Perry on drug use
During an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” host Maher told Perry, “It’s hard to die. You tried. You pushed it.”
Perry responded by saying he never "tried" to end his life by taking substances.
“I never tried, but I did so many drugs at certain times that I knew that it could kill me,” he said. “But I would do it, but I never wanted to die.”
He said he's spent "a great deal of time" working through all of that. And that's part of why he wrote his memoir.
"The real thing for me and the troubles I've had is that reality is an acquired taste. I have had a great deal of problems acquiring it," he said. "It wasn't until I became really safe in my sobriety and really strong in my sobriety — and to tell you the truth, I am resilient, I am strong."
Matthew Perry on nearly dying in 2019
Perry said he lost out on a role in "Don't Look Up," acting alongside Meryl Streep, because he nearly died. Perry said he was resuscitated in 2019 in an interview with "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," which also took place in 2022.
"I got CPR and the guy who saved my life broke eight ribs in the process," Perry said.
Perry said the moment came during a procedure to alleviate pain in his stomach. "They were doing a procedure and they gave me Propofol and my heart stopped for five minutes," he said.
Propofol is a sedative and an anesthetic administered for surgery or procedures, per the Mayo Clinic.
Matthew Perry on the intention behind sharing his journey
Perry told People in 2022 he decided to disclose intimate details of his journey to help others.
“I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again,” he said. “I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober — and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction — to write it all down. And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people.”
Matthew Perry on how people would know he's not doing well
Perry told Diane Sawyer that two sentences would give away that he was no longer doing well: "If I say I’m just gonna chill alone at home tonight. And part two, if I ever say I’m cured.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com