What Matthew Perry And Chandler Bing Had In Common, According To Friends Director James Burrows

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The late Matthew Perry had a remarkable Hollywood career, with his role as Chandler Bing in "Friends" standing out as his perfect fit. According to "Friends" director James Burrows, who spoke with Today, Perry's natural blend of humor and awkwardness made him ideal for the role.

When auditions for the show began, Perry quickly became a top choice for the creators, as was noted in Dennis Bjorklund's "Friends: Behind the Scenes." However, at the time, he was already committed to another show, "LAX 2194," a futuristic series on baggage handlers at the LAX. Perry revealed on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" that he almost had to turn down "Friends" because of this, but fortunately, "LAX 2194" got canceled, freeing him to take on the now-legendary role of Chandler.

Chandler was written as witty but dry and insecure, according to Bjorklund's notes. Interestingly, the character was actually supposed to be gay, as he was partially modeled after David Crane, one of the "Friends" creators. However, Perry portrayed the straight-guy persona so convincingly that the gay aspect was written out. As a joke, the writers had everyone mistake Chandler's sexuality, mirroring Perry's real-life experiences. 

The actor shared more similarities with his iconic character, prompting us to question how they aren't one and the same.

Matthew Perry effortlessly delivered Chandler's witty lines

In his interview with Today, "Friends" director James Burrows recalled being impressed by Matthew Perry's line delivery. "He was inventive with how he did a line," Burrows explained. Could he have been more right? Chandler's jokes and the way Perry delivered them have become nothing short of iconic, solidifying Perry as the ideal choice for the role.

Other than his on-camera presence, Burrows praised Perry's awareness of the set at any given moment. "He was always aware that even though he wasn't speaking, he was always on camera," the director explained, adding, "His facial expressions were amazing. [We] could always cut to his face."

As Perry was initially unavailable to play Chandler, the producers opted for Craig Bierko, known for his roles in "unREAL" and "Sex/Life," Marta Kauffman told Vanity Fair in 2012. "We found out later that Matthew had coached [Bierko]," she quipped. Fortunately, Perry was ultimately on board, and Bierko was no longer in consideration for the role. With Perry's witty humor and a touch of awkwardness, he went on to effortlessly embody a character that felt like a natural extension of himself.

Matthew Perry and Chandler Bing had similar emotional troubles

Drawing parallels between Matthew Perry's real-life experiences and Chandler Bing's character adds an extra layer to Perry's portrayal. Like Chandler, Perry was a child of divorced parents, though he didn't remain an only child like his on-screen counterpart. Perry welcomed five half-siblings and a stepbrother into his life after his parents had separated. Nonetheless, he seemed to share Chandler's emotional struggles.

On "Friends," Chandler felt abandoned by his parents and often shut them out of his life. In his memoir, "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing," Perry admitted to feeling like he didn't fit in his expanded family's dynamic, mirroring Chandler's sense of being an outsider. 

Chandler often talked about his humor being a coping mechanism for what he had gone through as a child, and Perry seemingly echoed a similar coping strategy during HBO Max's "Friends: The Reunion." He admitted, "If I didn't get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out," referencing his need to make the audience laugh during filming takes. "To me, I felt like I was going to die if they didn't laugh."

Additionally, Chandler's commitment issues on the show are a reflection of Perry's real-life choices, as he never married, although he did express a desire for children in his memoir. Unfortunately, Perry passed away without fulfilling this particular wish, but he did get to live out the experience through Chandler briefly.