Earlier this week, “Friends” star Matthew Perry made the news for some confusing comments he made about Keanu Reeves in his upcoming memoir, “Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing,” out November 1. Now it appears Perry wants to retract those comments, explaining he chose Reeve’s name at random and he doesn’t have any issue with the actor.
EW reports that Perry issued a public apology about the parts of his memoir that appear to slander Reeves. “I’m actually a big fan of Keanu,” Perry said in a statement to People. “I just chose a random name, my mistake. I apologize. I should have used my own name instead.”
Perry references Reeves twice in the upcoming book, the first time when he recounts the 1993 death of actor and close friend River Phoenix. “River was a beautiful man, inside and out – too beautiful for this world, it turned out. It always seems to be the really talented guys who go down,” Perry wrote in his memoir. “Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves walks among us?” Phoenix, like Perry, also struggled with addiction before his death, but he was also one of Reeve’s closest friends, so the reference to Reeves is especially troubling.
Reeve’s name appears again when Perry references the 1997 death of comedian and “SNL” star Chris Farley. “His disease had progressed faster than mine had,” Perry wrote about Farley’s death. “I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston‘s dressing room wall when I found out. Keanu Reeves walks among us.” It’s about that Perry means to use Reeves’ name as a refrain to highlight the absurd, tragic aspects of addiction, where talented people may die suddenly from an overdose while other people unafflicted with the disease don’t. But considering Reeves’ tragic background, and his close relationship with Phoenix, Perry’s comments come off as troubling and uncouth. Why pick Reeves’ name at random at all?
EW reached out to representatives for Perry and Reeves, but no one responded immediately for comment. With any luck, Perry’s follow-up comments are correct, and the actor did pick Keanu’s name randomly for an ill-advised stylistic flourish to pad out his book. Otherwise, Perry’s choice to reference Reeves feel flagrant and vindictive for no apparent reason.
Addiction is a common theme in Perry’s memoir. The actor struggled with substance abuse his entire career, entering rehab 15 times over the years. “I didn’t know how to stop,” he wrote in his memoir. “If the police came over to my house and said, ‘If you drink tonight, we’re going to take you to jail,’ I’d start packing. I couldn’t stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older.”
So, does Matthew Perry have beef with Keanu Reeves? If Perry’s follow-up comments are true, this sounds like a case of poor judgment on his part. But given Reeves’ enormous popularity and his close friendship with Phoenix, Perry’s digs at him feel both off-base and loaded. Or perhaps this is just the misstep of a troubled individual and there’s nothing left to say about it.