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CNN Larry King Live
Interview With Matthew Perry
Aired August 22, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: We've all got a friend, and he's Matthew Perry. Makes a million bucks per episode of "Friends," but he's talented, too. And the highs and lows of fame and fortune, battles with prescription drug and alcohol abuse, tabloid target, and opening in a great new film coming tomorrow.
How does he deal with all this while everybody watches? Matthew Perry is here.
We'll take your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's great to welcome him back to LARRY KING LIVE. Last time he was here with the whole cast, tonight he's solo. He's now also a major movie star, he wasn't then.
He stars in "Serving Sara," which opens tomorrow, co-starring with Elizabeth Hurley. I saw it this morning, very, very funny.
MATTHEW PERRY, ACTOR: Thank you.
KING: Very well done.
KING: You're only going to do comedies?
PERRY: Well, for right now, I've a couple comedies coming up, but hopefully a drama next summer, so...
KING: And a follow up to "The Whole Nine Yards"?
PERRY: Yes. We're going to do -- and you said you're a fan of that movie, I'm so happy about that.
Yes, we're going to start that in a couple of months, and Bruce and I, and Kevin Pollack and Amanda Peet and Natasha Henstridge and everybody...
KING: The whole group?
PERRY: Yes. Yes.
KING: And even Kevin Pollack, who gets killed in the other one. Only in movies, right?
PERRY: Even the dead once are back.
KING: Did you like that right away, "The Whole Ten Yards," I mean, just reading the script?
PERRY: Did you just say the name -- the thing...
KING: "The Whole Nine Yards." I said ten yards.
PERRY: I think that's just you and I. I think that's just the problem between you and I.
KING: We run into each other a lot in elevators.
"The Whole Nine Yards" I liked right away. It was kind of a dark comedy at first. And just the idea of being in a movie with Bruce Willis was pretty exciting.
And we did that movie kind of the same way we do "Friends," which is, we come from a great script, and it starts with a great script and then every day that we're shooting we just try to improve on it and kind of improv a little bit and try to make it better.
KING: Willis said you did a lot of that in that movie.
PERRY: Yes, it was fun. And he did too. I mean...
KING: And a lot of your takes were improv, right? A lot of your falls?
PERRY: Yes. There was a scene in that where I have to run across a lawn and slam into a glass door and...
KING: And you did.
PERRY: We kind of did that because the door was there.
KING: Are you comfortable with physical comedy?
PERRY: Yes, I think so. I never really thought of myself as a physical comedian. But when I was a kid I used to, you know, pretend to trip over things to make girls laugh in school and stuff like that. So I kind of learned how to fall without hurting yourself.
KING: We've got lots to talk about, Matthew. It's great to you have here, and we appreciate your coming forward to talk about a lot of things.
But tell me first about "Serving Sara," how you go this, how you chose to take it.
PERRY: Well, "Serving Sara" is a movie that's coming out tomorrow starring myself and Elizabeth Hurley. And I originally got the script, and one of the things that was intriguing about it for me, it was a darker guy than I've played in the past. You know, it's a really edgy guy I play. A guy named Joe Tyler, who's a process server; he serves subpoenas for a living.
And I met with a couple of those guys, and they're pretty dark fellows.
KING: It's a weird job.
PERRY: It's a very strange job.
KING: You've got to place it in the hand.
PERRY: Yes, all they have to do is they have to find you and then you have to touch this piece of paper, and then you're served and they can go home.
KING: And they took pictures in this too. I didn't see...
PERRY: Yes, sometimes you have to have further documentation.
KING: One of the great opening scenes ever.
PERRY: Oh, thanks.
KING: In the club, you with the fake tuxedo and the...
PERRY: yes, that was so much fun.
KING: ... and those guys.
PERRY: A little James Bondian kind of...
KING: How did you like working with Elizabeth Hurley?
PERRY: It was great. Elizabeth is -- you know, it's pretty well documented that she's one of the most beautiful women in the world. And, you know, when people mentioned her name for the part, I was like, OK, but it's a big, broad comedy we've got going here, so hopefully she's be funny.
And we met with her, and she's got this great comedic timing. It's annoying to most of the women in the world when I say this, but she's beautiful and smart and also really funny.
KING: She's got everything, in other words.
KING: Is timing harder doing a movie?
PERRY: Well, the only thing that makes it a little bit harder is you don't get the immediate gratification of a laugh. So when we're doing "Friends," you know, it's kind of like putting on a different one-act play every week.
KING: But you hear the laugh.
PERRY: Yes, you make the laugh, and there's the sound. And if you don't hear the laugh, a group of writers panic and rush off to you and you rewrite it right there.
So you have to trust, you know, more of the creative team when you're doing a movie because I'll say a joke and I'm not going to hear whether it gets a laugh for eight months in a dark room.
You know, so you put your trust in the director and the producers.
KING: Well, I will tell the audience, you're going to enjoy "Serving Sara." I think it's going to have a big weekend too.
PERRY: Oh, thank you.
PERRY: And -- but it's very, very funny, and it holds its pace right through, which I like. Every minor character is drawn well, from guys with two-minute scenes.
PERRY: That guy Cedric the Entertainer is pretty funny, the guy who plays my boss. He steals every scene he's in, so I'm never going to be in another movie with...
KING: The guy is wild.
KING: He's got his own TV show, right?
PERRY: He does. And he deserves it. He's a really funny guy.
KING: Let's talk about a lot -- first, is this definitely "Friends" last -- is that it, good-bye "Friends"?
PERRY: Well yes, I think so.
KING: How come Mr. Zucker says maybe not?
PERRY: Well, you know, I think it behooves him to keep that answer open. I mean, look, you never say never in this business. You can never tell what the future holds.
But we certainly are, the producers and the actors, looking at this season as being -- you know, getting an opportunity to take a whole year to really close out the stories and stuff.
KING: Is it time?
PERRY: I think so. I think so. You know...
KING: You know it when it is.
PERRY: Yes, we did think that we were done last year too, but there was -- you know, last year was probably the most successful year we had, and the most creatively successful year, too. So we felt like doing it again, and it all worked out.
KING: How do the scripts look for this year? PERRY: We just shot the first one.
KING: You've got a baby now.
PERRY: There's a baby.
KING: What does that add to? I mean, does it present problems?
PERRY: Well, not really, or at least not yet. So far we've just worked with kind of a little mechanical baby that moves in a very strange, frightening way.
But, you know, the writers are so good. I think other shows have gotten trapped, sometimes when they bring a baby or kid on the show, but these guys can -- they just keep the stories fresh after nine years, so I think they'll do a good job with this.
KING: When so much attention came to what you make per show and people look at what Major League Baseball players make are making now, and thinking of going on strike, do you understand the anger of people? They get angrier at athletes than they do at performers.
PERRY: Well, you know, first of all it's so unfortunate that that salary was out there. Isn't it weird? Most people, you don't know their salary.
But the trap that I tried to avoid falling into is feeling guilty about it and thinking, OK, well I don't deserve this. This is just lottery money. This is just insane money. It's like a punchline, this salary, you know.
KING: It is.
PERRY: So you kind of just look at it as, yes, nine years ago, we won the lottery. It was kind of a timing-plus-talent thing. Shows don't usually last this long. Advertising isn't -- you know, shows aren't usually this prosperous, so...
KING: The economy is different.
PERRY: The economy is different. And it is a bizarre thing. The whole nature of the phenomenal success of the show has taken -- it's taken me a very long time to learn to kind of deal with it in a good way, you know...
KING: What were you doing before you got that show?
PERRY: I was, you know, on worse television shows. I had done -- "Friends" was my fifth comedy show, so I had done...
KING: Kind of a: here he comes, another sitcom.
PERRY: Yes, I was like Mr. 13 episode guy, you know.
KING: So there's a little unreal quality to it? PERRY: It's -- well, the whole thing is surreal. And I think you get into trouble, and you can hit some pitfalls if you take it too seriously, because the whole thing about fame and the whole thing about this insane salary is, it's kind of -- it's ethereal. You can't really grab onto it. It's a very strange thing.
KING: Has it changed your life?
PERRY: Well, it's changed -- I mean, it can't help but change my life, you know. And there's been -- I would say probably 85 percent of it has been wonderful, it's all your dreams come true, Disney Land, and then 15 percent of it has been just this very weird experience that the only way you can kind of ground it is in saying that it's just kind of -- in being able to just kind of sit under your covers and giggle about it.
And you remember that time we did that.
KING: I remember it very well.
PERRY: We were laughing, laughing, remember?
KING: I still think of it.
You decided to go with the suspenders today?
KING: All right, we'll take a break, OK, Perry?
KING: Matthew -- had a bit of surprise to it.
Matthew Perry is our special guest. He stars in "Serving Sara." It opens this weekend. We'll be taking your calls later. Lots more to talk about with a great talent.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Serving Sara")
ELIZABETH HURLEY, ACTRESS: What are you doing?
HURLEY: I said help me, not undress me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Friends")
COURTNEY COX ARQUETTE, ACTRESS: Five more.
COX: Five more.
COX: Five more and I'll flash you.
PERRY: One, two, two and a half. OK, just show me one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That, of course, from "Friends," produced by Warner Brothers, which also owns this -- they own everything.
PERRY: Yes, they own everything. They own that microphone.
KING: They own this, the cups, that jacket, get it off. The obvious, Matthew, maybe it's unexplainable, what happened? Why would someone with everything going his way fall prey to drugs and alcohol?
PERRY: So, we're entering the serious portion of the interview?
PERRY: All right.
KING: And it puzzles those who -- I mean, I was a tobacco addict, so I understand addiction. I smoked for 35 years, three packs a day. And I smoked in the shower, I had to smoke. So, I know what it is to be -- but why?
PERRY: Well, the interesting thing is had you asked me this question two years ago, I would have no knowledge, I mean, just no idea. I didn't know why this was happening to me. You know, I thought it was -- I kind of thought it was a question of weakness or a lack of strength or a lack of will or just being spoiled or something like that.
KING: Why can't I not do this?
PERRY: Yes, exactly, because it was, of course, never my intention -- I was never this, you know, partier, let's like close down a hotel room. And I was just a guy that was drinking and drinking more and more and couldn't stop, and was trying to kind of live my life that way.
And so what happened was, actually on the set of "Serving Sara" is when I kind of had a little -- the best way I can describe it is kind of a spiritual moment where, for a split second, you see everything kind of clearly. I can't really describe it because it's about stuff that's bigger than I can really put into words.
But I decided I needed to prioritize my life, and I decided that I needed to risk all the bad publicity, I needed to leave the movie, I needed to leave the TV show and I needed to go get help because I was worried about -- it got to the point where I was wondering if I was going to survive.
KING: Just alcohol?
PERRY: Yeah. Well, it was alcohol and then there were other drugs that are actually just as dangerous that I was taking to try to drink less. But it was a completely crazy time.
KING: What do you mean? Used drugs to cut down drinking?
PERRY: Yes. I mean, most of the -- I got into a serious problem with painkillers, a painkiller called Vicodin. And that was mostly just to not drink as much as I was. I was getting too hungover, so I tried other things that would try to balance me out.
KING: Now, in this moment of enlightenment, you made all that decision in that kind of time, I'm leaving, I'm going to do this? What did the producers of the movie say?
PERRY: Well, the key was that I didn't care. I had to not care. I had my family and some friends around who were begging me to do this, to make this choice.
KING: You knew you had a problem?
PERRY: Oh, I knew I had a problem. The...
KING: You weren't in denial as many are?
PERRY: I was in denial about the serious nature of alcoholism and addiction. That's what I was going to get to, which I've learned about in the last year and a half. I knew I was guy that drank more than anybody else around, and I knew I was guy that couldn't -- once I had a drink, I could not stop. I couldn't stop. So, you know, you can play that game, well, I'll just have one martini tonight.
KING: That never worked, right?
PERRY: No, never.
KING: All right. In that moment, when you made this decision, you just said it? You went over to the producer and said, I'm going somewhere?
PERRY: Well, I didn't actually make those calls. I called, you know -- it's a much more personal thing. I called my father and I called my parents and I said, I'm done. I need to go get help and they were, of course, completely supportive. And, you know, we called some lawyers and we called some -- my agents and people in my...
KING: But you kept working until...
PERRY: No, I stopped at that moment. After the evening that I'm talking about, I haven't had a drink since that moment. And you call -- I called a treatment center and people -- I was smart enough even then to know that I couldn't possibly do this on my own, that I was just completely not knowledgeable and not strong enough and just kind of very naive to the true dangers of alcoholism. So I checked into a treatment center in L.A. and went about the path of desperately changing my life.
KING: They just held up the movie?
PERRY: They held up the movie. One of the things that I'm so grateful for is that they were understanding and supportive from the jump. This is people at Paramount and Reginald Hudlin, the director and all those...
KING: Paramount did that.
PERRY: Yes, because, you know, I'm the lead in the movie. And if I don't show the up next day, 150 people...
KING: How much of the movie was done?
PERRY: We had about 13 days left of the movie. You know? And...
KING: They couldn't say we'd leave him out of these scenes and...
PERRY: Well, no. When you all see the movie, this weekend, you'll see that they really weren't left with much to shoot.
KING: So, they...
PERRY: They had to wait. You know, Reggie Hudlin went and edited what they had had (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so, I mean, it wasn't as if everybody's world stopped. But my world stopped and it needed to stop, and I needed to focus on nothing but sobriety and alcoholism. And that's what I did.
KING: And "Friends?"
PERRY: The "Friends" producers were unbelievably wonderful. They're just -- they're just great. The three executive producers are wonderful. And they had seen that there was something going on.
KING: So, what did they do?
PERRY: They shot around me. I asked them for the most time that they could give me, not even guaranteeing I would be back.
KING: You were going?
PERRY: I was going.
KING: In other words, if they said you're off the show or the movie or we're going to sue you, you're going?
PERRY: Well, Larry, the thing is, if I don't have sobriety, I don't have anything. I don't have a job. I don't have...
KING: A life.
PERRY: I won't have a wife, I won't have kids, I won't have anything. And smarter people than myself explained that to me at that very moment.
KING: I want to ask what you learned since. But what did they do at this center? What do they do there? How long were you there?
PERRY: I was there for, at that particular place, for about a month, and then I moved to another place and stayed for about another month and a half.
KING: And what do they do?
PERRY: Well, treatment centers are wonderful places, because you are completely isolated with help. There is no phones, there is no -- I wasn't interested in talking to my agent or talking -- you know, you're surrounded with other people who are in there for the same problem, and it's mostly an educational process. You learn what happened to you. You face your fears on a daily basis. You get educated on the disease and you open yourself up because the only way for it to completely work is for a complete surrender to take place.
In other words, I need to say, I need to know that the Matthew Perry plan of living my life the way that it was is not working and I need to put my hands in -- I didn't put my trust in the hands of people that have gone through this and have sobriety and have time. And I need to throw out my way of thinking.
KING: Did you want to drink, in the early times?
PERRY: In the early times, yes, absolutely. But the obsession to drink has somewhat miraculously been lifted from me. But at that time, see, it's all about instant gratification, immediate gratification. You have a disease that's an obsession of your mind and an allergy of your body. So, there's a part of your mind that is saying, what are you doing? Just have a drink, you're going to feel better, you don't need to deal with the hospital stuff, just go home and have a drink. And you need to realize that part of the mind is out to get you and you need to realize that it's lying to you.
KING: And this you learned?
KING: More with Matthew Perry. As we go to break, here is a scene from a movie as I said I saw today and you're going to love, "Serving Sara." Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Serving Sara")
HURLEY: Joe, quick, it's him. Quick.
PERRY: Where? Where?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You stop him, Allison. PERRY: Look, lady, I'm not going to hit a girl, OK.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You go, girl.
HURLEY: Come on Joe!
PERRY: Well, I guess there's a first time for everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Friends")
PERRY: Veronica. Look, it's got to be Veronica, the girl in the red skirt. I definitely stuck my tongue down her throat.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: That was me.
PERRY: Look, when I've been drinking sometimes I tend to get a little overly friendly, and I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: That's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: That's all right.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That's OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Was it tougher, Matthew Perry, to go into -- that's another -- that scene was from "Friends," right?
PERRY: Yes, it seemed familiar.
KING: We've got to credit "Friends."
KING: Ironic. But they own us, too.
PERRY: There you have it.
KING: Is it more of a problem when it's public?
PERRY: Yes. I mean, it certainly makes it harder.
KING: The guy down the street knows that's the guy who's alcoholic.
PERRY: There's ups and downs about it. At first I thought there was a downside, that it was harder for me, because the nature of the problem, you want to be able to kind of take care of it on your own, with the right people. You don't want to have to talk about it the all of the time, you don't want people out there judging all of that stuff. So you know, at first I was thinking that would make it harder. But the benefits of going through this problem in the public eye are tenfold. I mean, it's amazing. I get to hopefully -- I get to, just by showing up to work and just by sitting here talking to you and saying that my life is better, I get to help possibly thousands and thousand of people that I've never even met.
It has become -- alcoholic and addicts have become some of my favorite people in the world. I find for the most, I find like they're the most interesting people to talk to.
KING: They're pretty smart, generally?
PERRY: Well, yes, there's not a...
KING: There have been studies. The National Institute of Alcoholism showed that I think alcoholics generally tend to have a little higher IQ...
PERRY: Oh, really?
KING: ... than the basic population. So I don't know why.
PERRY: I don't know either. But for the people who are struggling with this, if I can help out, and I get to help people I haven't even met, and what's better than that?
KING: It's a nice feeling.
KING: Do you attend meetings of any kind? Do you have to work at it every day?
PERRY: Well, the first part I won't answer because...
KING: It's anonymous.
PERRY: There you go.
KING: But is it something that -- do you accept that theme, I am an alcoholic and will die an alcoholic?
KING: I just didn't have a drink today.
PERRY: Absolutely. It wouldn't be working for me if didn't, if there was any kind of gray area or any kind of question, that I had another kind of run in me, then it wouldn't work.
KING: You believe you are addicted? Is this a disease?
PERRY: Yes. KING: You were born with this?
PERRY: Yes. It's a genetic disease, passed down from generation to generation...
KING: Your father or grandfather...
PERRY: Yes, people in my family, not my father, not my mother. But some people in my family have had it. And you know, that's absolutely part of recovery, one of the first things is to finally realize that you indeed, you know, have it, and it's not going to go away. And it's a progressive disease, so if you're out there and you're drinking and worried about it, it's going to get nothing but worse. It never gets better.
KING: Could you work while you were drinking?
PERRY: I never drank while working. I had a rule about that.
KING: So you were able, even though addicted...
KING: To live by a rule?
PERRY: Well, yes, but it of course affected my work and of course affected my life. Early on, I was OK. But the progressive nature of the disease is, you must, to get the required feeling, you have to drink more, because of the progressive nature. So eventually I did show up to work in states of just insane hangover.
And so it's basically, I might as well have been drinking. I wasn't fully there, but I did have this rule. I never -- work was always a huge priority to the point that it was actually probably a hindrance in how fast I recovered. Because if I had had that moment that were talking about earlier, earlier in my life, and wasn't concerned about work and about public appearance and about what other people would think, may have been able to take care of this a little sooner, but I'm so grateful for the timing, so I don't want to look back.
KING: Do you think it's a personality thing, like your weight would fluctuate a lot, right? Is that part of some sort of disorder, for want of a better word?
PERRY: I think that mostly had to do with the...
PERRY: With the drinking. I got very thin, deathly thin. There is me at a darker time while taking these -- that's me the other night, though I've taken a better picture. I got very thin on this pain medication I was taking, Vicodin.
KING: That curb your appetite?
PERRY: Curbs your appetite, you know, and you would rather take that drug than eat.
KING: Vicodin and liquor don't mix, do they?
PERRY: I also had a strange rule about that. I never mixed them, either. One thing at a time for me. One deathly dangerous thing at a time.
KING: You were a disciplined drunk?
PERRY: I did my best, and finally giving it up, I'm winning.
KING: Are you confident that you have beaten it?
PERRY: I don't think you ever -- I know that you don't ever beat it. It's a dangerous thing to say that you're confident you have beaten it.
KING: So it is day to day?
PERRY: It's those sayings that ultimately seem corny but they become life lines. One day at a time is a major saying, and the reason for that is, if you -- if I were to sit here and look at the rest of my life and say I'll never drink for the rest of my life that's quite a daunting task, but I can certainly make it until tonight when I go to sleep.
KING: Car crashes you've had. Were that related to alcohol?
PERRY: No, believe it or not.
KING: Just bad luck?
PERRY: Those were sober -- one pretty famous car accident I had was just in the middle of the road and a courier van came around and I swerved to get out of the way and last control of the car and ended up in a house. So that's probably why it was famous, and the other one is someone hit me.
KING: You ran into someone's house?
PERRY: Yes. You never saw that picture?
PERRY: There you go.
KING: That's the house.
PERRY: That's the house.
KING: Were you injured?
PERRY: No. No, I wasn't. And it looks a lot -- it wasn't a very well-made house.
KING: What did the guy in the house say? PERRY: Nobody lived there at the time, thank God.
KING: Perry luck.
KING: Did the bank sue?
PERRY: No, no lawsuits.
KING: Nobody owned it or anything?
KING: How important in recovery in all this were friends -- I don't mean the cast of "Friends," but all your friends.
PERRY: Well, they were very important. At that time you kind of -- you kind of see who really cares about you. And the most important people during that time were other people that have this, and people that have recovered from this.
KING: Bonding with fellow...
PERRY: That's where you really (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Even some of my closest friends, people that I'd take a bullet for, I didn't see much of in the first year of recovery.
KING: by the way, I've heard this, do you find out other people you had no idea were drinkers were drinkers?
PERRY: Sure. Yes. You do.
KING: A guy would come over to you that you know for years?
PERRY: Yes, absolutely. And it's a wonderful -- that's why it works.
KING: Matthew Perry is our guest. "Serving Sara" opens tomorrow. You're going to love it. I really liked this movie. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FRIENDS")
MATT LEBLANC, ACTOR: Oh, man! you are so wearing that bracelet.
PERRY: I so am.
LEBLANC: You have any idea what this will do for your sex life?
PERRY: Well, it would probably slow it down at first, but once I get used to the extra weight, I'll be back on track.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with Matthew Perry. Going to your phone calls as well. He stars in "Serving Sara." It opens this weekend. Why do you think you're such a tabloid target?
KING: They even have you falling off the wagon, right?
KING: Wrong, right?
PERRY: Well, that's wrong.
KING: Doesn't that tick you off?
PERRY: Yeah. Of the stories that have written about me ever, that's the one that really made me angry. I become fascinated with -- I mean, let's think about this for a second. I become fascinated with the moment that the writer, I use the term loosely, the -- is coming up with the story, like the actual moment where they're just absolutely fabricating. It's fiction. It's fascinating to me. I laugh at it for the most part.
There's been amazingly crazy things written about me. But when a guy for money writes that I have been drinking when I have not and possibly hinders that wonderful thing that I was talking about earlier of me being able to help people and show them that it's possible, and not only is it possible, it's possible to do in the public eye and possible to do and be happier than you ever been, you want to wring that guy's neck because he doesn't understand. He's so stupid. He doesn't understand what he's doing.
KING: Because that counts more than people, right, they don't care.
PERRY: Yes, and they don't care. And it's all based on somewhere, at some point, people realize that if you write a story about me, people are going to buy your tabloid. And that's what it is.
KING: how about links with women?
PERRY: Links with women, you know, that's been a fascinating thing to watch. Some of the women that I've been linked to I've gone out with on a couple of dates. Some of them are friends, some of them I've never met. So, this whole -- I think it is because of a lack of a story. I think there was a lot written about my problems that we've gone over. And then when there isn't that to write about any more, let's go on and find the next thing. I'm a single guy.
KING: Are they bothersome to you, like, if it says you're going with whatever or is it just puff?
PERRY: For the most part, really nothing can bother me any more. I mean, look, I'm a 33-year-old man and everything that is possible has been said about me, some true, some not true.
KING: What's left?
PERRY: You know, what's left. And also, to tell you the truth, when I've been fortunate enough to try to face my fear and conquer alcoholism and addiction and be in success in it, so, you know, nothing is going to scare me more than that, and the tabloids writing these things other than addressing that nature, which gets the hair on my back up.
KING: Have you been in love? I mean, have you been close to...
PERRY: Yes, of course, I've been in love. Yes, I've been in love. I've met some amazing people. And I haven't...
KING: Do you want to marry?
PERRY: I do, but I think in the last maybe six or seven months of my life, I've become a person that deserves somebody wonderful and isn't scared of that any more.
KING: You didn't before?
PERRY: No, you know, I had this rather big dark cloud hanging over me for most of my life, so...
KING: Are you in love with anyone now?
PERRY: Just you, my friend.
KING: That's a given.
PERRY: Yes, just you.
KING: Marlton, New Jersey, as we take some calls for Matthew Perry. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, how have you?
PERRY: I'm well, thanks.
CALLER: Listen, I just want to say, first of all, that I admire you and I think it's a great thing that you are doing. You're being so honest and forthright about your problem.
PERRY: Thank you.
CALLER: You're welcome. And so many others have these problems, so it's nothing to be embarrassed about. And I just want to ask you, how do you, if you do, identify with other celebrities that have the same problem?
PERRY: Well, you know, I mean, this certain problem is -- when people deal with alcoholism and addiction, your lives can be completely different. You know, it's kind of like -- it's a very bizarre thing. It's like a funnel. You know, everybody is different on the top of the funnel, but when they have their bottom and they go down to, you know, the depths of this disease, everybody is the same.
KING: But we do -- Jennifer Capriati is a friend of yours, right?
KING: Is that romance, by the way?
PERRY: No, that's a friendship.
KING: She's battled back, hasn't she? Do you form a common bond, those of you who have made it back from things?
PERRY: Sort of. You know, with Jennifer, our common bond was mostly the love of sports and kind of...
KING: Because she's a fighter and down and up...
PERRY: She has come back in her career. I don't really know anything about any of the other stuff.
KING: No, just back in her career.
PERRY: We've both been targets of the tabloids too. So, there is that bonding. And there is also, very bizarre, kind of we're in the public eye, so we know each other thing that happens at parties and (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
KING: By the way, people think that you have to know everybody else who is an actor.
PERRY: Well, you and I, you know, we bumped into each other in some elevator and...
So, there's that happening.
KING: We do. Vallejo, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, Matthew.
CALLER: My question is, Matthew, with the Vicodin, did you find after taking it that you had to increase your dose in order to get the same effect?
PERRY: Yeah, I'm glad you asked that question.
KING: By the way, Vicodin is a very good painkiller when used for the purpose of...
PERRY: Yes, absolutely. But if you have addictive qualities, that's a no-no. You have got to stay away from that. But 90 percent of the country does not have that, so it's -- I'm not attacking Vicodin at all.
KING: But you needed more?
PERRY: Yes. Alcoholism and addiction is based on -- it's a progressive disease. If you take one for fun at a party and you decide the next week to take one for fun at the party and then it's going to be one every four days. Then it's going to be one every three days, and it's going to eventually escalate.
My intention was never to have a problem with these things. I had kind of this nice, like kind of warm feeling when I took it and that was nice. However, within about eight months, I was up to insane numbers of it, because you need more to get that feeling that you had. And then, eventually, you don't have the feeling at all. And then you...
KING: Insane numbers like 10, 12?
PERRY: Well, more than that. You know, 20, 30 a day. You know, I know people have that have taken -- actually, I don't want to say too much...
KING: Jamie Lee Curtis, she said it on this show she was a Vicodin addict, took more than that.
PERRY: Yes. But the only problem about saying how many is people who are -- if you say 100, then the people who are at 30 think, oh, I'm OK. So, I don't want to say that.
KING: Ever tempted by cocaine, heroin, any of those?
PERRY: No, those, actually just, for some reason, I think the word scared me. I don't know. And that fear probably saved my life, because I would have loved those drug probably.
KING: We'll be right back with Matthew Perry. Here's another -- what are we seeing a scene from?
PERRY: I don't know, this is your show, man.
KING: They had to tell me -- I don't know everything that's happening. I sit here.
PERRY: All right, I thought you did. I'm disappointed.
KING: Elevator meetings.
Here's another seen from "Serving Sara."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Serving Sara")
CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER, ACTOR: It took you six days to serve this guy. Six freaking days.
PERRY: Hey, he disappeared on me.
CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: a guy named Fat Charlie disappeared on you? Poof, Puff the Magic Dragon, just gone, poof, bye-bye.
Let me guess you mean to tell me you ain't seen the Chrysler Building on your way over here either? If you want to spend your life chasing nickel-and-dime papers, you go right ahead.
PERRY: Ray, the guy was a difficult mark, and I served him clean. What else do you want?
CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: You know what I want? I want you to be more like Tony here.
PERRY: That's impossible, I walk upright.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hey, ladies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What you're watching is scenes from last night's premiere of "Serving Sara." The co-stars are, of course, Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley.
There've been rumors about you two. Anything between you two?
PERRY: No, there's nothing going on. There were rumors that I was the father of that baby, which was interesting.
PERRY: Yes, that's somebody else.
KING: Would you have enjoyed being the father?
PERRY: No. You know, I like the way it makes me sound, impregnating people by not having sex with them, that's a powerful thing.
KING: But you had good chemistry with her in that movie.
PERRY: Yes, it was -- but mostly on-screen.
KING: Are love scenes, by the way, not all they're cracked up to be? It's not a turn-on to do a love scene?
PERRY: Well, I know everybody says that, but for me, every one has been right on the money.
KING: Well done.
Visalia, California with Matthew Perry, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Hi Matthew. Happy belated birthday, Matthew.
PERRY: Well thank you.
CALLER: What would you be doing if you were not acting?
PERRY: Oh, you know, I always had aspirations of being a tennis player, being a professional tennis player.
KING: Were you good?
PERRY: You know, I'm pretty good. I was better when I was 10.
KING: You play Jennifer?
PERRY: I -- Jennifer and I have played. She, you know, obviously kills me. But I get to play in these charity events from time to time, so I get to kind of pretend like I made it pro.
KING: Why did you become an actor?
PERRY: My father is an actor and...
KING: In fact, you did a scene with him, right?
PERRY: Yes, well, we did -- he played my father in a movie called "Fools Rush In" that I did.
KING: We've got a scene from that.
PERRY: Oh, you do?
PERRY: Wow, that's...
KING: So was that -- want to run that?
Is that what attracted you to it?
PERRY: I think that's initially how I generated respect for the business. And I just -- you know, you kind of always want to follow in -- there he is -- always want to follow in your father's footsteps, sort of, and I was lucky enough to be able to kind of do that.
And he was so funny in this movie.
KING: Do you -- did you do it in school, college?
PERRY: Yes, I did. You know, initially it was just something -- it was like the easiest course in school for me, you know, I just had this kind of -- I just had this love for it.
KING: Where did you grow up?
PERRY: I grew up in Canada. I grew up in Ottawa, Canada, the nation's capital. KING: Hockey fan?
PERRY: Big hockey fan. Big hockey fan. Ottawa Senators, very frustrating around playoff time.
KING: What is it with them?
PERRY: I don't know. I really don't know.
KING: Good goaltending...
PERRY: Good goaltending, and you know, they play -- you know, last season they were number two...
PERRY: Number two team out of the East. And just boom, the playoffs.
KING: Brantford, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: How are you, Matthew?
PERRY: I'm doing all right. How are you?
CALLER: I'm good. I'm really impressed with all of the work you've done.
I would like to know if loneliness was one of the root emotions that you had that made you start to use, or kept you using?
PERRY: Well, it's a really good question. It's kind of a chicken before the egg thing, because I suppose it starts off, you know -- I don't think alcoholics corner the market on loneliness, but I think there's kind of a...
KING: You were lonely?
PERRY: I think there's kind of a special kind of area that we...
KING: You were lonely?
PERRY: Well, then what happens is it's a very isolating disease, so you -- when you're drinking to the levels that I was, you don't want to be doing that around too many people, so you want to be doing it alone so nobody sees you doing it. So you have this secret.
So it kind of breeds loneliness. And just trust me, it's not the way to go.
KING: Now, I know some people who can't drink alone. They have to be with people to drink. PERRY: Well, you know, you don't want to -- if you're drinking alone, that's a bad sign.
KING: Yes. It's a sign of -- and would you drink anything? We're talking wine, beer?
PERRY: I was mostly a vodka man, you know. I liked to, you know, drink very expensive vodkas. And -- but, you know, by the end of the evening you're mixing that with Mountain Dew.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Matthew Perry, who stars in "Serving Sara."
Don't go away.
KING: Emmy nominated again, of course. You got nominated again for Chandler Bing.
PERRY: That's first nomination, actually, for me.
KING: How many has the show won?
PERRY: The show has never won.
KING: The show has never won an Emmy?
PERRY: No. Hopefully...
KING: Who is voting?
PERRY: I don't know. Maybe the people,,,
KING: Who do you lose to?
PERRY: We've lost to -- well, you know, some really good shows get nominated. "Sex and the City" and some other shows. But yes, we haven't taken home the big prize yet.
KING: This year.
KING: Salem Springs, Arkansas, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Matthew. I was wondering if you feel your weight fluctuations have affected your career at all?
PERRY: Well, I suppose it's been rather an interesting part of my life. You know, in terms of any kind of regret or looking back and wishing I had done something differently so that wouldn't have been the case, I really don't have any anymore.
KING: You want a movie career now, by the way? I mean, when "Friends" ends? PERRY: I would love to...
KING: Just do movies?
PERRY: I love movies...
KING: You don't have to do comedy...
PERRY: Well, I wouldn't turn my back on television. I love that medium as well, but right now the movie thing is going pretty well for me.
KING: Where were you on 9/11?
PERRY: I was asleep in L.A. and then woke up to that.
KING: How soon after did you have to work?
PERRY: We took about a week, a week off.
KING: Tough coming back?
PERRY: Yes, well, it was tough for everybody. You know, obviously, I was so moved by everybody's patriotism. There was a question of when is it OK to be funny again, December? I mean, when can you be funny? And I think Mr. Letterman took care of that for all of us...
KING: Were you drinking then?
KING: You had stopped?
KING: Would that have set you off, do you think?
PERRY: Well, it's such an ego -- such an ego driven disease, so an alcoholic in the thrust of his disease can make just about anything about himself, so possibly. But it was a healthy time for me.
KING: I'm going to give you something for you. were 33 years old, right?
PERRY: Thirty-three, that's right.
KING: I'm going to give you -- we never give this. I'm going to give you a pair of braces.
PERRY: Really? The ones off your back.
KING: From the show.
PERRY: Great. I will wear them when I'm sleeping tonight?
KING: Matthew. Wear them in an elevator, wear them on an episode. Wear it in a movie.
PERRY: Wow, look at that! The suspenders! All right.
KING: OK. You ever have a crop circle done for you?
KING: Well, here's what happened with me. Something amazing I want to show you. I've gotten many tributes over the years. This could be the biggest yet, literally. Take a look at this. It's a 300 foot by 200 foot crop circle design of me in a field of hay in East Madison, Maine. It's actually a work by Daniel Bushkoff (ph).
He used plywood to flatten down the hay, and he calls this thing "Learn How to Fly Over a Very Large Larry." I am humbled and I wish to thank Daniel Bushkoff, and I know that Matthew, you are raging with envy, because you do not have a crop circle.
PERRY: Daniel, you might want to do something better with your free time, my friend. OK? Call up, we'll figure something out.
KING: That is a little weird, isn't it?
PERRY: I'm uncomfortable. But I'm glad you enjoy it.
KING: You told me tonight you're going to go watch "Serving Sara."
KING: Not -- sit in the back of a regular movie and just watch people watch it.
PERRY: Yes, there's a radio contest tonight for the movie, and I'm going to -- I'm kind of excited to see it with a normal group of people.
KING: Do you learn from that?
KING: Is it nervous? Premieres are all fans, right?
PERRY: Premieres are all fans and their agents and there are people who...
KING: They cheer the credits.
PERRY: Yes, they tell that you're great and they got that good fake laugh...
KING: And this one is going to do $10 billion.
PERRY: Oh, yes, absolutely. That would be a nice opening weekend, $10 billion.
KING: You're going to have a big opening.
PERRY: Thanks, man. Thanks.
KING: You are. But when you watch yourself and there is an audience also watching, what that is like?
PERRY: It's a very surreal experience. You know, you kind of -- the first time you watch, you're certainly watching to see if it's working. You're looking at the audience more than you're looking at the screen, especially for somebody like me who, as I said earlier, I'm more, I'm used to a television audience, where -- that joke obviously worked, look at the 300 people laughing, but in the movie you're -- ooh, now I can finally see some people laughing, and that joke worked.
I'm glad we spent four hours trying to figure out that I should fall behind the couch instead of in front of the couch because it worked.
KING: What are they going to call the "Whole Nine Yards II?"
PERRY: Right now it's called that.
KING: The "Whole Nine Yards II?"
PERRY: Yes. If you come up with something better, we're open.
KING: That's a great title. It's hard to...
PERRY: Yes, I don't know. Right now it's called that. The good thing about this -- one of the good things about doing this movie is we have a little bit more lead time to develop a script than we had before. So I guess the goal with any sequel -- I don't know, it's my first one, but the goal is to obviously make it funnier and bigger and better than the first one.
KING: Can we agree that Bruce Willis is a terrific talent?
PERRY: Oh, he sure is.
KING: Maybe he doesn't get enough credit, when we talk about great actors.
PERRY: He sure is. Yes, he's got a lot of credit as big A-list, huge freakish movie star, but I don't think he's mentioned enough in the critical world.
KING: My late friend Jackie Gleason made a movie once with a fellow named Tom Hanks, and he told me, this kid, big. You going to be the next Tom Hanks.
PERRY: Thank you very much.
KING: I'm predicting it, Perry. You're a lot like him, you have that air about you, you look the type, and I think you're going to get major roles and this one, "Serving Sara," is just another springboard on a great career.
PERRY: Oh, thank you. I thought the suspenders was a nice gift. That's a great gift.
KING: I mean it.
PERRY: Thank you very much.
KING: Matthew Perry.
Quite a guy. "Serving Sara" opens this weekend wide, as they say, and this is "Friends" last season. Unless they go a million-and- a-half.
A little joke there, folks.
We'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night Lisa Beamer join us. Fascinating lady who's written a terrific new book, "Let's Roll."
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