Matthew Perry got the huge stardom after he auditioned for the series Friends Like Us, which went on to become Friends. He did know, however, that he was going to have to bring something extraordinary to the character, as there were a tremendous number of people auditioning for the role, which was the final character to be cast, and he felt so extremely like Chandler Bing was a massive part of who he was.
In his upcoming memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big, Terrible Thing, Perry writes:
“I read the words in an unexpected fashion, hitting emphases that no one else had hit. I was back in Ottawa with my childhood friends the Murrays; I got laughs where no one else had.”
Becoming the final member of the lead cast of six, Perry took this same style of delivery into production:
“I was talking in a way that no one had talked in sitcoms before, hitting odd emphases, picking a word in a sentence you might not imagine was the beat. I didn’t know it yet, but my way of speaking would filter into the culture across the next few decades. For now, though, I was just trying to find interesting ways into lines that were already funny, but that I thought I could truly make dance.
He went on to say:
“(I was once told that the writers would underline the word not usually emphasised in a sentence just to see what I would do with it.)”
It proved triumphant, obviously, considering that decades later, Chandler’s words, including the memorable “Could I BE…?” remain commonly quoted today, no doubt helped by the never-ending re-runs of the record-breaking sitcom, which an entirely new generation of fans found on Netflix during the lockdown.
Perry also remembers how, as soon as he was sent the script for the show, he knew instinctively that Chandler was the character he have to play.
“It was as if someone had followed me around for a year, stealing my jokes, copying my mannerisms, photocopying my world-weary yet witty view of life… It wasn’t that I thought I could play ‘Chandler’; I was Chandler.”
Perry’s memoir is set to be released next week on November 1st.