Matthew Perry tragically passed away at age 54 on October 28, 2023. For many people, he’ll be remembered because of the humanitarian work he’s done to help those fighting with addictions. For others, he’ll be attached to the role they love him most in. And in more ways than one, today, it’s easy to remember and celebrate the detail that in the hands of a lesser-skilled actor, FRIENDS‘ Chandler Bing wouldn’t have been as memorable as a character.
Chandler Bing was hilarious and snarky, but more importantly, Chandler Bing was soft and vulnerable. And it’s that very vulnerability that Perry always brought to life with exceptional nuance. Some of the best moments on FRIENDS are the emotionally driven scenes that underscore the significance of being by someone’s side. Matthew Perry once said that he wanted to be remembered for the people he helped, and while we can’t take their voices and speak on their experiences, we can talk about the fact that Chandler Bing, as a character, helped pave a road for the people who are a little bit awkward and a little bit sad—the people who are constantly trying to make the best of their situations.
Matthew Perry Layered Chandler Bing With a Plethora of Heart
Chandler Bing is all heart as a character, and it’s largely because Matthew Perry layered him with prodigious care and devotion. No character on FRIENDS, except for maybe Phoebe, feels as grounded and natural. Personalities are bound to clash, but in the case of Chandler, he always felt like the character almost every person in the audience could be friends with. The one who character who wouldn’t judge (even if he did). It’s a conundrum in the best way. The one character who’d make it easy and effortless to embrace our true selves.
Perhaps it’s because Matthew Perry himself was always so open with his struggles that he feels so familiar to all of us. In many ways, his death reminds me of Carrie Fisher’s. There’s a lasting legacy behind them and a whole lot of transparency in how they consistently ensured that fans and strangers understood that they’re never alone. We might not all understand the details as closely, but we see enough to care immensely. And at times, a fictional character has as much power as a real person. They are, after all, pieces of writers and actors coming to life in various ways. They’re authentic in a way AI could never, ever replicate.
And like Princess Leia, Chandler Bing always felt like a friend. In the same way that all the Golden Girls feel like friends. The way that the writing and performances ensure that when we turn on the TV, they’ll undoubtedly be there for us. Perry’s mastery of marrying comedy and vulnerability was organic in an unparalleled way that we rarely see on TV. So few actors truly excel at bringing the emotions to our screen as a pair rather than swapping one for the other (which is also a great skill, to be sure).
As we take time to remember Matthew Perry’s legacy and look back on one of his best roles as an actor, it’s important to understand that celebrities have never owed anyone anything. Still, Perry gave us plenty, publishing his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing last year, detailing much of what he wants readers to know and learn. These are the pieces he willingly gave to fans and readers, allowing them to get to know who he was and everything he stood for. So, whether your favorite role of Matthew Perry’s was Chandler Bing or another character, it’s primarily due to the love and devotion the actor delivered every scene with, making those characters that much more special.