Friends Star Matthew Perry Reveals He Quit Don't Look Up After Medical Emergency

The actor withdrew from the Netflix film after an incident in which his heart stopped beating for five minutes.
Matthew Perry in 2017
Matthew Perry in 2017
Jason LaVeris via Getty Images

Friends star Matthew Perry has revealed he was originally supposed to have been among the all-star cast of the Netflix film Don’t Look Up, but was forced to drop out of the project due to health reasons.

The Emmy-nominated actor is currently gearing up for the release of his new memoir Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing, in which he details his experiences playing Chandler Bing in the hit 90s sitcom, as well as his issues with substance abuse and addiction.

In the lead-up to the release of Matthew’s book, excerpts have been shared in the press, including one story published by Rolling Stone about the actor signing up to appear in Don’t Look Up as a Republican journalist.

Describing the film as the “biggest movie I’d gotten ever”, Matthew revealed that his character would have shared the screen with Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill.

Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence in Don't Look Up
Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence in Don't Look Up
via PA Features Archive/Press Association Images

He even got as far as filming a scene with the latter, but was ultimately forced to pull out of the project due to a medical emergency, which saw his heart stop for five minutes.

Matthew explained that he was using the opioid hydrocodone at the time of filming, and had lied to the medical professionals about suffering severe stomach pain to acquire more.

“In fact, I was OK,” he wrote. “It still felt like I was constantly doing a sit-up — so it was very uncomfortable — but it wasn’t pain.”

His doctors advised they “put some kind of weird medical device in my back” to help with his pain, but when they administered the anaesthetic propofol before the surgery, it reacted with the hydrocodone in his system, causing his heart to stop.

“I was given the shot at 11am,” Matthew recalled. “I woke up 11 hours later in a different hospital. Apparently, the propofol had stopped my heart. For five minutes.

“It wasn’t a heart attack – I didn’t flatline – but nothing had been beating. I was told that some beefy Swiss guy really didn’t want the guy from Friends dying on his table and did CPR on me for the full five minutes, beating and pounding my chest.

“If I hadn’t been on Friends, would he have stopped at three minutes? Did Friends save my life again?”

He added: “He may have saved my life, but he also broke eight of my ribs.”

Matthew joked that being part of the Friends cast may have "saved his life"
Matthew joked that being part of the Friends cast may have "saved his life"
NBC via Getty Images

The incident led to him withdrawing from Don’t Look Up, a decision Matthew described as “heartbreaking”, with his one completed scene ultimately not making the final cut.

Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing is released on 1 November, and will feature accounts of his addiction, including the fact he came close to death in 2018 due to opioid misuse.

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