Matthew Perry's Biography

That's just the way I talked when I was in, like, fifth grade. "Could that teacher be any meaner?"
-Matthew Perry on his Friends character, Chandler Bing

Critical Facts:
Date of birth: August 19, 1969
Place of birth: Williamstown, Mass.
Relations: father John Bennett Perry; mother Suzanne Perry Morrison
Fan mail:
c/o William Morris Agency
151 El Camino Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
TENNIS? Or acting? Those were the passions--and career options--that Matthew Perry held dear as a teenager. Tennis had been his favorite pastime since childhood (he was once the third-ranked junior doubles player in Canada), and acting is his father's profession. Perry caught the bug during a seventh-grade performance as Arriba Arriba Geneva in the dramatic classic The Life and Death of Sneaky Fitch. In 1984, acting eclipsed tennis in Perry's life: he retired his racquet after badly losing an important tournament. He would then spend a decade bopping between guest appearances on such seriously sorrowful sitcoms as Charles in Charge, Growing Pains, and Silver Spoons, before striking pay dirt as wisenheimer Chandler Bing on NBC's Gen-X jamboree Friends. We must point out that Chandler would be the first person to mock someone who had given up a tennis career to appear on an episode of Charles in Charge.

Born in 1969 in small-town Massachusetts, Perry moved to Canada as a tot after his parents split up. His dad, John Bennett Perry, remained in the States to pursue his acting career, where he achieved a modicum of notoriety as the fresh-scented sailor on those Old Spice commercials. With her son in tow, Suzanne Perry settled in Ottawa, the city Matthew now calls his hometown, where she obtained employment as a political assistant, and, later, as press secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Perry attributes his noteworthy glibness--a trait on which he would build a career--to his quick-with-a-quote mother. By the age of fifteen, he was an accomplished tennis player with a budding desire to act, and both passions took him to Los Angeles, where his father lived. (Two years later, Suzanne followed her son to southern California with her second husband, TV-news anchor Keith Morrison, and their children.)

In 1984, shortly after the tournament that squelched his tennis dreams for good, Perry landed his first professional acting assignment--an appearance on Scott Baio’s sitcom Charles in Charge. A few months later, Perry was "discovered" in true Hollywood fashion while cutting classes and hanging out in a restaurant. His waitress delivered the sixteen-year-old a napkin scribbled with the telephone number of director William Richert, who wanted to audition him for a movie. Though skeptical, Perry called Richert and later accepted a small part opposite River Phoenix in A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (1988). Perry’s next milestone was graduating from high school, albeit with an underachiever’s marks. When his father pressured him to attend college, the two struck a deal: if Matthew couldn't find work as an actor within one year, he would enroll at the University of Southern California.

Well, Perry certainly found acting jobs. Nothing steady, mind you, but work nonetheless. Just one week after graduation, he was offered the lead in a Fox sitcom called Second Chance, which had something to do with reincarnation and lame jokes. It was canceled promptly. Putting faith in Perry's abilities, Fox whipped together another sitcom, Boys Will Be Boys, around the would-be star. But it was also dead on arrival. Perry then morphed into what he calls Guest Star Guy, embarking on a series of one-episode stints on TV programs ranging from Michael Landon’s Highway to Heaven to Aaron Spelling’s Beverly Hills 90210. Name a show--any show--and Perry was on it. Who’s the Boss? Yes. Empty Nest? Yes. The Tracey Ullman Show? Yes. On a marginally grander scale, Perry co-starred on Valerie Bertinelli’s stillborn series Sydney in 1990, and the following year, he snagged a recurring part as Tracey Gold’s doomed boyfriend on Growing Pains.

After so many strikeouts, Perry understandably wanted a break from sitcom hell. In 1993, he tapped into his savings and began writing his own TV comedy. One year later, he sold the pilot to Universal Television. Titled Maxwell’s House, Perry’s program was about a caffeinated cluster of six attractive twentysomethings who griped about their jobs, relationships, and generational malaise. Sound familiar? NBC thought so too when Perry and Universal pitched them the show. The network passed on Maxwell’s House because it was already developing a similar sitcom called--you guessed it--Friends. Although they didn’t want his program, NBC and the producers of Friends did want Perry, and they cast him as Chandler.

As the legend goes, Friends debuted to immediate success on NBC’s fall 1994 schedule, and its six co-stars shot to international stardom. Like his castmates, Perry has capitalized on his sudden fame by spending hiatuses making movies. He hit the big screen in the date movie Fools Rush In, with Salma Hayek, in 1997, and in the comedy Almost Heroes, with the late Chris Farley, in 1998. On the personal front, the trappings of Friends’ success have provided Perry with a Porsche, a home in the Hollywood Hills, a nose job to soften his profile, and a brief fling with Friends guest star Julia Roberts. Would Chandler make fun of that, or what? (Mr. Showbiz)

1.Whole Nine Yards, The (2000)
2.Three to Tango (1999) .... Oscar Novak
3.Almost Heroes (1998) .... Leslie Edwards
4.Fools Rush In (1997) .... Alex Whitman
5."Friends" (1994/I) TV Series .... Chandler Bing
6.Getting In (1994) .... Randall Burns
... aka Student Body (1994)
7.Parallel Lives (1994) (TV) .... Willie Morrison
8.Deadly Relations (1993) (TV) .... George Westerfield
9."Home Free" (1993) TV Series .... Matt Bailey
10.Call Me Anna (1990) (TV) .... Desi Arnaz Jr
11."Sydney" (1990) TV Series .... Billy Kells
12.She's Out of Control (1989) .... Timothy
13.Dance 'Til Dawn (1988) (TV) .... Roger
14.Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, A (1988) .... Fred Roberts
... aka Jimmy Reardon (1988)
15."Second Chance" (1987) TV Series .... Chazz Russell
... aka "Boys Will Be Boys" (1987)