Inside Matthew Perry's Friendship With Craig Bierko

Many were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Matthew Perry. He was known to the world best for playing Chandler Bing on the hit show "Friends" for 10 years, but there was a time when someone else was in consideration for the role that made Perry famous, and it was Perry's close friend, actor Craig Bierko. Bierko had guest roles on TV shows like "Sex and the City," and he has starred in a number of Broadway productions, as well as on Lifetime's "UnReal."

Perry and Bierko met in 1990 on the set of the sitcom "Sydney," which ran for just one season. But after the show wrapped, the two stayed friends. In Perry's autobiography "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing," Perry described Bierko as having, "by far the fastest comic mind I have ever seen." And before Perry portrayed Chandler as one of the iconic six friends in "Friends," he and Bierko were part of a real-life friend group of actors that also included Hank Azaria and David Pressman. Perry said they had "formed their very own mini-Rat Pack."

But with the success of "Friends," Perry's friendship with Bierko fell apart, and Bierko didn't speak to him for years. It was because Bierko was originally offered the role of Chandler, but turned it down.

The success of Friends broke Matthew Perry and Craig Bierko's friendship

Matthew Perry revealed in his memoir that Craig Bierko asked him and Hank Azaria which show offer he should accept — "Best Friends" or "Friends Like Us." ("Friends Like Us" was the original name for "Friends.") Perry said that he and Azaria both recommended "Friends Like Us," in which Bierko would be a part of an ensemble. But instead, Bierko went with the other option where he'd have a starring role. Perry didn't just recommend which part Bierko should take; Marta Kauffman, co-creator of "Friends" later confirmed that he'd even helped Bierko with the audition (via Vanity Fair).

Then Bierko stopped talking to Perry for the first two years of "Friends," as the show became a cultural phenomenon and "Best Friends" didn't get picked up. Eventually, Bierko finally reached out and admitted that the relationship had broken down because of Perry's success. Perry said Bierko told him, "I could not handle that you got rich and famous doing a role that I turned down," via YouTube. Perry reassured Bierko that even with the fame, "It doesn't do what we all thought it would. It doesn't fix anything."