Matthew Perry was one of the most sought-after actors in the industry back when Friends was on the air, but that didn't stop him from feeling competitive. In his new memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry reflected on some bitter feelings he harbored towards fellow actor Keanu Reeves. In many ways, Perry still seems to be dealing with this hang-up.
"Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?" Perry wondered in an excerpt published by Page Six. Perry went on to describe his friendship with Phoenix and his extreme grief after he died. Since Phoenix died of a drug overdose, it tied into feelings of guilt he dealt with over his own addictions and relapses. Perry and Phoenix became friends while filming A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon together in 1988, then Phoenix died in 1993.
Perry did not elaborate on how he had come to regard Reeves as the antithesis of Phoenix, instead writing about his grief for his friend. However, he used the same example later on when writing about the death of Chris Farley. Perry co-starred with Farley in Almost Heroes in 1988, and Farley died of a drug overdose in 1997. Perry remembered hearing about it while at work on Friends.
"I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston's dressing room wall when I found out. Keanu Reeves walks among us," he marveled.
Reeves wasn't the focus of these passages, but in many ways that makes his inclusion that much more confusing. The two have never starred in any movies or TV shows together, and it's not clear if they've ever spent any significant time together off-screen. Perry may have developed a perception of Reeves as a silly, unserious performer after his breakout role in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure in 1989, as many people found the movie to be inane at the time.
However, like Reeves himself, Bill & Ted have since developed a cult following, and even the more goofy moments of the franchise are now remembered affectionately. Meanwhile, Reeves was sometimes criticized for his delivery in those early days, but his style has since become a strength that he plays to. In general, Reeves is regarded as a star today both on and off the big screen.
Reeves co-starred with River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho in 1991, so perhaps some of Perry's perception of Reeves came from Phoenix himself. Still, cracking jokes at Reeves' expense in 2022 struck many commenters as odd since he has a reputation for humility and kindness behind the scenes. Perhaps Perry will explain this stance in more detail in the book, or during his press tour promoting it. Friends, Lovers and The Big Terrible Thing will be available on Tuesday, Nov. 1 in print, digital and audiobook formats.