Home Fashion Former Warner Bros. Exec Recalls Casting Matthew Perry in ‘Friends’

Former Warner Bros. Exec Recalls Casting Matthew Perry in ‘Friends’

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Former Warner Bros. Exec Recalls Casting Matthew Perry in ‘Friends’

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Former Warner Bros Exec Recalls Casting Matthew Perry
Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Matthew Perry’s former colleague reflected on a very special moment in the late actor’s career following his shocking death.

David Janollari, former head of comedy at Warner Bros., wrote an essay for The Hollywood Reporter in which he shared the story behind casting Perry in what became his most memorable role, Chandler Bing on Friends.

The television executive said that in order for Friends to be a success, he and creators Marta Kauffman, David Crane and Kevin Bright knew that the six main cast members all had to be “stars.”

“The chemistry had to be believable,” Janollari wrote in the moving tribute, which was published on Tuesday, October 31. “You just had to love them. And no one was more elusive than Chandler.”

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Friends premiered on NBC in September 1994, introducing viewers to six characters who would quickly become fans’ lifelong pals. The comedy, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, has become a multigenerational hit. Creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman managed to make everyday life in New York City relatable to the masses through […]

Janollari said that just days before the studio was set to start production on the pilot episode, execs had yet to cast Chandler and Rachel. The rest of the cast — David Schwimmer as Ross, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe, Courteney Cox as Monica and Matt LeBlanc as Joey — had already been secured.

Former Warner Bros Exec Recalls Casting Matthew Perry

David Janollari and Matthew Perry at the 8th Annual Lili Claire Foundation Benefit
E. Charbonneau/WireImage

While attending a run-through of a failing CBS pilot with head of casting Barbara Miller, Janollari said he noticed “one bright spot in the show” — Matthew Perry. “He literally stole the show,” Janollari recalled.

Since Perry was appearing as a guest star on the other series, Janollari suggested that he costar in another show they were developing, resulting in a lightbulb moment that would change the course of TV history.

“At the time we were also casting another pilot for NBC, and we couldn’t find the best friend costar,” he wrote. “I turned to Barbara and said, ‘What about Matthew for that pilot?’ Then we turned our attention back to the run-through, and like that a-ha moment in a movie that you really don’t believe happens in real life, we both turned to each other with eyes wide open and said at the same time, ‘Chandler!’”

“We called him in immediately to read for Chandler, and the rest is history,” Janollari continued. “It was magic.” Jennifer Aniston landed the role of Rachel, and the Friends crew was solidified.

Janollari also shared that over the years of working together, Perry became “a real friend.”

Former Warner Bros Exec Recalls Casting Matthew Perry

(L-R) Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox and Matt LeBlanc
Warner Brothers Television/Fotos International/Getty Images

“I got to know him personally through mutual friends, game nights (look out for Matthew at running charades!) and wallyball (volleyball inside a racquetball court),” he said. “True to character, Matthew was fiercely competitive!”

Janollari continued: “His dedication to his sober living house, his recent autobiography and his determination to help others in need inspired many struggling with addictions. A truly hilarious man. A beautiful kind soul. A real friend.”

Perry was found dead at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, October 28, at the age of 54. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner later said Perry’s cause of death was “deferred” pending a toxicology report.

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