Friends director James Burrows has opened up about how the cast’s female members — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow reacted when news broke that their “brother” Matthew Perry had died on October 28. James shared his texts with the women on the Today Show on Thursday, November 2. “They were destroyed,” he divulged of the interaction. “It’s a brother dying.”
Though he did not mention any conversations with David Schwimmer or Matt LeBlanc, he did recall Matthew’s extraordinary talents in front of the camera. James famously directed 15 episodes of the hit NBC sitcom, which ran from 1994-2004. “Matthew had a certain way of turning a line,” he noted. And it was no small thing for the 82-year-old to take in the news of Matthew’s tragic death by apparent drowning. He says he needed “a couple of days to just let it soak in.”
The most difficult part, he observed, was the breakup of a decades long family dynamic created by the show. “He was part of a family, and he was the first one to not be part of that family anymore,” he said.
The surviving cast themselves remained silent in the days following Matthew’s death. They finally broke their silence on October 30 with a joint statement shared with PEOPLE.
“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,” the statement read. “There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss. In time we will say more, as and when we are able. For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”
Matthew, who played the show’s amiable Chandler Bing, reportedly drowned in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home, per TMZ. He was found unresponsive by a bystander. In an April 2023 interview, the late actor revealed how he wanted to be remembered. “As a guy who lived life, loved well, lived well, and helped people,” he poignantly told Los Angeles Times. “That running into me was a good thing, and not something bad.”