When Matthew Perry and Julia Roberts played love interest on an episode of Friends, the world didn’t know that they were already dating in real life. When Chandler Bing (Perry) met Susie Moss (Roberts) on a film set, the pair recognised each other from their preschool days and decided to go on a date — which, as fans will recall, didn’t exactly go according to plan.
Their onscreen chemistry was nothing short of palpable, which makes sense given that their offscreen chemistry was equally as intense. Despite this, Perry really struggled with the pressures of dating Roberts given that she was already a Hollywood icon in her own right.
In his recently released memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, the former actor admitted that while he was deeply infatuated with Roberts, it all became too much.
According to an excerpt published by The Times of London, Perry recalled Roberts stipulating to Friends producers that she would only guest star in the show if she was included in Chandler Bing’s storyline.
Upon hearing this, Perry sent the actress “three dozen red roses and a card which read:, ‘The only thing more exciting than the prospect of you doing the show is that I finally have an excuse to send you flowers.’”
Roberts responded by sending him “lots and lots of bagels.”
The two then embarked on a “three-month courtship” through daily faxes (before email and text) while she was working on a film in France, ahead of her Friends appearance.
“Three or four times a day I would sit by my fax machine and watch the piece of paper slowly revealing her next missive,” Perry wrote. “I was so excited that some nights I would find myself out at some party sharing a flirtatious exchange with an attractive woman and cut the conversation short so I could race home and see if a new fax had arrived. Nine times out of ten, one had.”
The actor’s feelings were undeniable as he was instantly put under the charm and allure of her award-winning smile.
“It was like she was placed on this planet to make the world smile, and now, in particular, me. I was grinning like some 15-year-old on his first date,” he adds.
Sadly, their romance wasn’t to last long, with Perry making the decision to end things after two months
“Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me,” he wrote. “I had been constantly certain that she was going to break up with me. Why would she not? I was not enough; I could never be enough; I was broken, bent, unlovable. So instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts.”
He explained how Roberts took the new, explaining that he couldn’t begin to describe “the look of confusion on her face.”
Despite 15 stints in rehab for alcohol and opioid addiction, Perry has still maintained his sense of humour even in the darkest of times. He recalled watching Roberts accept her Oscar for her role in Erin Brockovich while he was “sweating and twitching” in rehab, surrounded by fellow patients.
“I’ll take you back,” he told the TV. “The whole room laughed, though this was not a funny line in a sitcom. This was real life now. Those people on the TV were no longer my people. No, the people I was lying in front of, shaking, covered in blankets, were my people now.”
Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry is available for preorder from Booktopia.