Matthew Perry’s Heart Stopped for 5 Minutes, Costing Him the ‘Biggest Movie’ of His Career
Matthew Perry’s memoir reveals a surgery from a few years ago that cost him a role in the star-studded political satire “Don’t Look Up.”
Rolling Stone has the excerpt from “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” detailing what happened.
Perry was set to play a Republican journalist in the 2021 comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill and other big names. In fact, he did film one scene with Hill that never made the final cut.
He shared, "I was on 1,800 milligrams of hydrocodone then, too, but nobody noticed.”
The actor said after filming with Hill, he flew to a rehab facility in Switzerland where he lied to doctors about suffering severe stomach pain in order to get a hydrocodone prescription.
The doctors wanted to perform surgery to “put some kind of weird medical device in my back.”
Perry, however, stayed up taking hydrocodone the night before the surgery and the opioid mixed with propofol from the operation had dire consequences.
Matthew wrote, “I was given the shot at 11:00 a.m. I woke up eleven hours later in a different hospital. Apparently, the propofol had stopped my heart. For five minutes. It wasn’t a heart attack — I didn’t flatline — but nothing had been beating. I was told that some beefy Swiss guy really didn’t want the guy from ‘Friends’ dying on his table and did CPR on me for the full five minutes, beating and pounding my chest. If I hadn’t been on ‘Friends,’ would he have stopped at three minutes? Did ‘Friends’ save my life again?”
Perry added, “He may have saved my life, but he also broke eight of my ribs.”
He was in too much pain to return to “Don’t Look Up,” calling his exit “heartbreaking.”
Matthew called the film the “biggest movie I’d gotten ever,” as he was set to act opposite Streep in three scenes.
Perry’s book also details another medical crisis from a few years ago when Matthew was hospitalized at 49, fighting for his life after his colon burst due to opioid overuse.
The star was in a coma for two weeks and hospitalized for five months. Perry then had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.
At the time, the public was told that he suffered from a gastrointestinal perforation.
In an interview with People, Perry said when he was taken to the hospital, "The doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live. I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that's called a Hail Mary. No one survives that."
The health emergency was a wake-up call for Perry, who is now focused on his sobriety.
The star has had 14 surgeries on his stomach so far, and told People, "That's a lot of reminders to stay sober. All I have to do is look down."
Matthew also shared a conversation he had with his therapist that helped shift his perspective.
"My therapist said, 'The next time you think about taking OxyContin, just think about having a colostomy bag for the rest of your life,'" Perry said. "And a little window opened and I crawled through it and I no longer want OxyContin anymore."
He added, "There were five people put on an ECMO machine that night and the other four died and I survived. So the big question is why? Why was I the one? There has to be some kind of reason."
Perry said of readers, "I think they'll be surprised at how bad it got at certain times and how close to dying I came. I say in the book that if I did die, it would shock people, but it wouldn't surprise anybody. And that's a very scary thing to be living with. So my hope is that people will relate to it, and know that this disease attacks everybody. It doesn't matter if you're successful or not successful, the disease doesn't care."
The actor also sat down with Diane Sawyer for an interview airing Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Watch the preview clip below as Matthew describes addiction as a disease "doing one arm push ups... waiting to get you alone." He explains, "Because alone, you lose."