Friends star Hank Azaria pays emotional tribute to Matthew Perry: 'Heartbreaking'

"It's heartbreaking, for those of us who loved him and knew him really well, personally."

Friends star Hank Azaria has paid an emotional tribute to his friend Matthew Perry, whose death at age 54 has left fans worldwide shocked.

Hank, who starred on the show as Phoebe's love interest David, took to Instagram and spoke fondly about Matthew, who he shared was his first friend in Hollywood and helped him get sober 17 years ago.

Matthew Perry and Hank Azaria
Friends star Hank Azaria has paid tribute to his friend Matthew Perry, who was his first friend in Hollywood and helped him get sober. Photo: Getty

"Matthew was the first friend I made in Los Angeles, when I moved there. I was 21, he was 16," he began his lengthy tribute. "Matthew and I became really good friends and we were really more like brothers for a long time. We drank a lot together, we laughed a lot together, we were there for each other in the early days of our career," Hank said.


The actor praised Matthew's comedic skills, saying that as funny as he was as Chandler Bing in Friends, off-camera, he was "the funniest man ever".

"He just lived to laugh, and every night he would – he was like a genius. He would weave — he would start to weave comedy threads together, just hanging out. A joke here, a joke there. A joke here, a joke there. And then, by the end of the night, he’d weave them all together in this crescendo of hilarity. Most nights you spent with Matthew, you were crying laughing by the end.

Hank Azaria, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry on Friends
Hank and Matthew on Friends with Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox. Photo: Getty

"I really loved him. A lot of us who were close to him felt like we lost him to drugs and alcohol a long time ago because — as he documented in his autobiography — there was so much suffering," the actor said, referencing Matthew's memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. "I had to pick up and put down that biography, like, 11 times, it was so painful for me to read. As his friend, who loved him, I knew he must be suffering, but the details of it were just devastating."

Hank reflected on his own addiction and how Matthew helped him get sober, "I’m a sober guy for 17 years, and I wanna say that the night I went into AA, Matthew brought me in. The whole first year I was sober, we went to meetings together.

"And he was such a great – I got to tell him this – as a sober person, he was so caring and giving and wise. And he totally helped me get sober. And I really wish he could’ve, you know, found the – found it in himself to stay with the sober life more consistently."

Speaking about Matthew's struggle with staying sober, he added, "But it's heartbreaking, for those of us who loved him and knew him really well, personally. We just missed him. We just missed him. It’s one of the terrible things about this disease, is it just takes away the person you love."

He ended the tribute by saying, "As an actor, he was so brilliant. I just wish we – the world — I and the world — could have gotten what the rest of his career would’ve been."

Matthew died on Saturday (LA time) as a result of an apparent drowning after reportedly saying he was more "fatigued" than usual after his daily game of pickleball.

There were no illegal drugs found at the actor's home, however, law enforcement sources told TMZ that multiple prescription drugs were found at his house.

"Authorities found antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and a COPD drug in the house," the gossip site claims.

The World Health Organisation states that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that causes restricted airflow and breathing problems. It is most often caused by smoking and puts sufferers at a higher risk of other health problems.

An autopsy will reveal whether or not any drugs were in his system at the time of his death.

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