Matthew Perry, most famous for portraying Chandler Bing on the sensational TV sitcom Friends, has reportedly died. The actor was 54 years old.
Both TMZ and the LA Times, citing law enforcement sources, reported Saturday evening that the actor was found unresponsive in the jacuzzi at his Los Angeles home. Both outlets also claim that there were no signs of foul play and that no drugs were found at the scene. A representative for the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to PEOPLE that officers responded to a call about the death of a man in his 50s at Perry's address Saturday afternoon but would not confirm the identity of the deceased.
Warner Bros issued a statement about the star in response to the news. It reads, "We are devastated by the passing of our dear friend Matthew Perry. Matthew was an incredibly gifted actor and an indelible part of the Warner Bros Television Group family. The impact of his comedic genius was felt around the world, and his legacy will live on in the hearts of so many. This is a heartbreaking day, and we send our love to his family, his loved ones, and all of his devoted fans."
Perry, raised between Los Angeles and Montreal, first gained footing in Hollywood as a teenager with guest appearances on shows like Charles in Charge and Beverly Hills 90210. But when he landed Friends, which would debut in 1994 when Perry was 24, he was still relatively unknown. The show made him a household name—and eventually one of the highest-paid TV actors of all time. Starring alongside Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer, the program was a ratings behemoth during its decade-long reign.
In the years following Friends, Perry logged roles in movies like 17 Again, Fools Rush In, The Whole Nine Yards and Serving Sara. He appeared in TV shows like Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Mr Sunshine, which he co-created, Go On, and CBS's The Odd Couple reboot. In 2016, he debuted a stage play that he both wrote and starred in, The End of Longing, in London.
Perry spent much of his life battling addiction to both alcohol and pain medication, like Vicodin and OxyContin. He was frequently forthcoming about his struggles, and about his desire to help others who shared his disease. "I've had a lot of ups and downs in my life and a lot of wonderful accolades," he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2015, "but the best thing about me is that if an alcoholic comes up to me and says, 'Will you help me stop drinking?' I will say, 'Yes. I know how to do that.'"
His 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, recounted his challenges with substance abuse in stark detail. In an interview with the New York Times that same year, Perry said of his journey, "It’s still a day-to-day process of getting better. Every day. It doesn’t end because I did this."
In 2016, a Michigan-based priest named Gerald Johnson suffered a heart attack. He says he had a near-death experience (NDE) that sent him somewhere he never thought he’d visit: hell.
Recently, Johnson took to TikTok to share the details of his traumatic NDE—far from the kind of warm, bright-light epiphany you might expect to hear from someone who temporarily ventures into the great beyond.
“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Johnson recounts in the viral video. “I don’t care what he did to me. No one deserves that.”
Johnson says that immediately after his heart attack in February 2016, his spirit left his physical body and went down to hell, entering through “the very center of the Earth.” Though he says “the things I saw there are indescribable,” he did his best.
Johnson claims he saw a man walking on all fours like a dog and getting burned from head to toe:
“His eyes were bulging and worse than that: He was wearing chains on his neck. He was like a hellhound. There was a demon holding the chains."
Johnson also heard music in hell, including Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”—traditionally upbeat tunes. Only this time, demons were singing the songs to “torture” people.
Johnson says his hellacious NDE made him realize he needed to forgive people who had wronged him, instead of hoping for their punishment.
Maybe Johnson’s story sounds far-fetched to you. But scientists say that while many of the most publicized NDEs have a positive spin, negative NDEs certainly occur, too. The experts just aren’t entirely sure how—or why.
Researchers—especially those from the International Association for Near-Death Studies—believe NDEs most likely happen due to a change in blood flow to the brain during sudden life-threatening events, like a heart attack, blunt trauma, or even shock. As your brain starts losing blood and oxygen, the electrical activity within the brain begins to power down. “Like a town that loses power one neighborhood at a time, local regions of the brain go offline one after another,” one expert told Scientific American.
During a NDE, your mind is left to keep working, but without its normal operational parameters. Whether simply an oxygen shortage, some sort of anesthesia, or a neurochemical response to trauma, as hypothesised, the NDE leaves those who experience it with a real, sometimes traumatic memory. We may not know how that memory happened—and unlike Johnson and his trip to hell, victims may not want to recount it ever again—but it could change their life.