'Friends' EP and Reunion Director Support Matthew Perry: 'He Seems Stronger and Better'

"He was great. People can sometimes just be unkind," said Friends: The Reunion director Ben Winston about Matthew Perry's health following the special's release

Friends Reunion Special Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Matthew Perry. Photo: Photography by Terence Patrick

The creative minds behind Friends and the beloved sitcom's new HBO Max reunion special are defending star Matthew Perry, whose health status recently became a topic of concern for fans of the show.

In recent interviews with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creators Marta Kauffman, David Crane and Kevin Bright and reunion director Ben Winston spoke about Perry, who appeared in the special alongside costars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer after having previously struggled with substance abuse.

"He was great. People can sometimes just be unkind. I wish they weren't," Winston told THR, referencing questions about Perry's health from clips of him in the reunion.

"I loved working with him," added Winston. "He's a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show. I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this."

"I talked to him. It was great seeing him again," Bright said in a separate interview with the outlet. "And what people say is what people say. I don't have any to say about that, except it was great to see him. And I think he's very funny on the show."

Bright added of Perry, "But yes, I think he's OK. He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward."

Perry, 51, has previously opened up about some of the challenges he faced while filming the hit NBC sitcom, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004. During a radio show appearance in 2016, he said his memories of the time between season 3 and season 6 were foggy, admitting, "I was a little out of it."

Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry. Michael Kovac/FilmMagic

During the special, Perry reunited with his former castmates on the beloved sitcom's original sound stage in Burbank, California, to look back on the show that made them worldwide stars.

As the cast discussed their experience taping in front of a live studio audience every week, Perry made a candid confession to his former costars.

"To me, I felt like I was going to die if they didn't laugh," he said. "And it's not healthy, for sure. But I would sometimes say a line and they wouldn't laugh and I would sweat and just go into convulsions. If I didn't get the laugh I was supposed to get, I would freak out."

Friends: The Reunion is streaming on HBO Max.

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