Matthew Perry Reveals How Chandler’s Iconic Dialect on ‘Friends’ Created
Extracts from Perry’s novel, chronicling his whirlwind journey with global comedy fame, addiction, and treatment, have already made headlines. These include his crush on co-star Jennifer Aniston and his near-death drug encounter.
In a passage from today’s Times that focuses on his craft, Perry describes how, from the very first moment of his audition, he was motivated to give Chandler a speech pattern that stood out, with its emphasis on odd words and syllables.
“I read the words in an unexpected fashion, hitting emphases that no one else had hit. I was back in Ottawa with my childhood friends the Murrays; I got laughs where no one else had.”
As the last of the six principal actors, Perry adopted the same delivery technique during filming:
“I was talking in a way that no one had talked in sitcoms before, hitting odd emphases, picking a word in a sentence you might not imagine was the beat.
“I didn’t know it yet, but my way of speaking would filter into the culture across the next few decades. For now, though, I was just trying to find interesting ways into lines that were already funny, but that I thought I could truly make dance.
“(I was once told that the writers would underline the word not usually emphasized in a sentence just to see what I would do with it.)”
Undoubtedly helped by the never-ending reruns of the record-breaking sitcom, which a whole new generation of fans discovered on Netflix during the lockdown, Chandler’s expressions, like the unforgettable “Could I BE…?” remain in regular usage today, despite the show’s concluding after 10 seasons in 2004.
Perry also talks about how he instantly knew Chandler was the role he needed to portray as soon as he received the screenplay for the show, which was initially called Friends Like Us.
It wasn’t that I believed I could play “Chandler”; I was Chandler. ” It was like someone had followed me around for a year, taking my jokes, copying my mannerisms, and copying my world-weary but funny view of life.
Perry and his fellow Friends graduates met up for a televised reunion last year. The actor, who has become a champion of rehabilitation for those suffering from addiction, spoke about the pressure he put on himself to land the laughs for which he had become known:
“I felt like I was gonna die if [the live audience] didn’t laugh. And it’s not healthy for sure. But I would sometimes say a line and they wouldn’t laugh, and I would sweat and… and just, like, go into convulsions. If I didn’t get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out. I felt like that every single night.”
November 1 marks the publication of Matthew Perry’s autobiography, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big, Terrible Thing.”
Friends is an American television sitcom that ran for 10 seasons on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, and was developed by David Crane and Marta Kauffman.
The sitcom centers on six friends in their 20s and 30s who reside in Manhattan, New York City, and features an ensemble cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer. Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Television, produced the television show. Originally, Kevin S. Bright, Kauffman, and Crane served as executive producers.