HONOLULU (KHON2) — The death of Matthew Perry came as a shock to some, while not others. His decades of dealing with addiction to substances destroyed his body.
He is most famous, and extremely wealthy, due to his time on a world-wide known 30-minute comedy show, “Friends.” He played the lovably sarcastic bestie to Ross and Joey and the sometimes-annoying neighbor turned lover and husband to Monica.
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He had a wonderful sense of comedic timing, and many of us never knew that behind the scenes, he was struggling like many who become dependent on substances.
Perry knew exactly what to do, as an actor, to push those funny lines to over the top funnier. In doing so, he was able to create one of the most adored characters on “Friends”.
But enough about his time on “Friends,” this piece is meant to discuss the loss of an incredible dramatic actor. It was Perry’s dramatic roles, particularly in Aaron Sorkin dramas, that really showed us the potential of his talent.
For Perry, regardless of what character he embodied, we could feel the humanity that lurked beneath the characters he played. And it was his portrayal of Joe Quincy and Matt Alby that really allowed his acting skills to shine.
So, let’s take a look at two of Perry’s extremely underrated characters.
“Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”
Studio 60 got a bad rap by critics, and the marketing never pulled in the audience that this show deserved.
Perry played the co-lead character Matt Alby along with Bradley Whitford who played his tried-and-true entertainment partner, Donny Tripp.
This show followed the intense drama that often plays out behind the scenes on shows like “Saturday Night Live”. As the two Executive Producers who were given the show as studio executives pushed out the creator (a Lorne Michaels type character), Perry’s character grappled with addiction, personal drama and the chaos of running a live sketch-comedy show.
The stars of the show were Perry and Whitford in every sense of the words. Perry pulled on the depths of his soul to play this tortured leader who dealt with the issues that plagued his personal and professional lives.
In his embodiment of a character that creates funny for a living, he was able to harness a raw and visceral sense of how isolating a career in comedy can be.
Perry’s character is the head writer for the fictious show. He portrays a man who is constantly haunted by deadlines, demands and relationships. The character he created remained steadfast throughout the series and created a reliable depth of character that made itself the center of the world.
“The West Wing”
“The West Wing” was the creation of Aaron Sorkin. It followed a Democratic, folksy president of the United States at a time when the U.S. was dealing with President George W. Bush and the multiple wars instigated under his watch.
The supporting character of Joe Quincy became the home for Perry while on this show. Quincy was an amazing character that worked as a White House attorney. He, along with Sam Seaborn (played by Rob Lowe) and Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford), provided some intense scenes that really spotlighted Perry’s dramatic acting skills.
For some, Perry was just a guy on that show that got too much hype. That is until he took on the character of Quincy.
Like the death of Anton Yelchin, the world is now robbed of Perry ever embarking on another role that will make us love him even more.
If you have not had a chance to see either of these drama series, then you are in for an emotional ride.
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As we mourn the loss of this tortured soul, take the time to check out some of Perry’s dramatic roles. His soul is just under the surface and reaches out to connect with his audience.
May your soul finally find peace, Matthew Perry.