“River was a beautiful man, inside and out — too beautiful for this world, it turned out. It always seems to be the really talented guys who go down. Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us? River was a better actor than me; I was funnier. But I certainly held my own in our scenes — no small feat, when I look back decades later.”
Phoenix overdosed and died outside the Viper Room in Hollywood in 1993. Matthew recalled, “I heard the screaming from my apartment; went back to bed; woke up to the news,” he added, “River was a beautiful man inside and out and too beautiful for this world, it turned out. It always seems to be the really talented guys who go down.”
He brought up Keanu again while remembering Farley, who died of an overdose in 1997.
Matthew and Chris had just made “Almost Heroes” together, and the movie was released after Chris died.
Perry said of their battles with addiction, “His disease had progressed faster than mine had. (Plus, I had a healthy fear of the word ‘heroin,’ a fear we did not share). I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston’s dressing room wall when I found out,” adding the line: “Keanu Reeves walks among us.”
Perry went on, “I had to promote ‘Almost Heroes’ two weeks after he died; I found myself publicly discussing his death from drugs and alcohol. I was high the entire time.”
Matthew’s book shares multiple accounts where Perry himself could have died due to drug use.
The memoir begins with the story of how he was hospitalized at 49, fighting for his life after his colon burst due to opioid overuse.
The star, now 53, 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.
Perry told People magazine that 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."
Perry, however, had another brush with death soon after while filming “Don’t Look Up,” 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.
In an excerpt from the book posted by Rolling Stone, Perry reveals, "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.