The director of Friends: The Reunion reports that Matthew Perry is doing well, and says that fans have been "unkind" to the actor given the circumstances. Ben Winston directed the HBO Max special and then reflected on the experience on The Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top 5 podcast this week. He had some commentary on how fans have discussed Perry's health recently.
"He was great. People can sometimes just be unkind. I wish they weren't," Winston said frankly. "I loved working with him. He's a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show. I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this." Perry struggled with addiction during the original run of Friends and has dealt with the impacts of drug use on and off in the years since. Many commenters noted the changes in his appearance during the reunion.
Long-time Friends director Kevin S. Bright weighed in on the internet's muttering about Perry as well. Bright was interviewed by THR following the reunion and reported that Perry seemed healthy and happy to him. After years of working with him on the original series, Bright was well-placed to judge Perry's health for himself.
"I talked to him. It was great seeing him again," Bright said. "And what people say is what people say. I don't have any to say about that, except it was great to see him. And I think he's very funny on the show. But yes, I think he's okay. He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward."
Perry joined his co-stars Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox for Friends: The Reunion — a panel-style special looking back on the sitcom and its impact on the culture as a whole. The special aired on HBO Max on Thursday, May 27 and is still streaming now. It also featured some of the prominent creators behind the beloved show.
Perry's addiction is inextricable from the legacy of Friends. The actor checked into a full rehabilitation program in 1997 for 28 days, revealing that he had been using Vicodin in excess. He later returned to rehab in 2001. Looking back in a 2016 interview with the BBC, Perry admitted that he couldn't even remember filming some seasons of Friends.
"I was a little out of it at the time," he said. For the most part, fans have also supported Perry in his attempts to get healthy, but sadly the conversation turned darker when the special first premiered. Friends: The Reunion is now streaming on HBO Max.