Matthew Perry Would 'Freak Out' If 'Friends' Audience Didn't Laugh: 'I Felt Like That Every Night'

The actor made the candid confession to his former costars during HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion special

This post contains spoilers from HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion special.

For all involved, HBO Max's Friends: The Reunion was an emotional trip down memory lane.

The long-anticipated event, which was repeatedly delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finally premiered on the streaming service overnight. The nearly two-hour special boasts several formats, including a sit-down interview with host James Corden, celebrity appearances, table reads of classic scenes and more.

It also features conversations between the core six cast members — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer — on the beloved sitcom's original soundstage in Burbank, California.

Friends the reunion.

As the cast discussed their experience taping in front of a live studio audience every week, Perry, 51, 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."

"You didn't tell us that, though," remarked Kudrow, 57. "I don't remember you ever saying that."

"Oh, yeah," Perry said. "I felt like that every single night."

Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry
Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The topic came up again later in the special, when LeBlanc, 53, remembered a time when he tripped over his mark and had to re-film a scene where he ran into the coffee shop multiple times.

As everyone on set cracked up, Perry jumped in. "Because I was like, 'Somebody's getting a laugh, I can't handle it — I need to get a laugh, too,'" he recalled.

Perry, who struggled with substance abuse, 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."

Friends. Warner Bros. Television
Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay
Friends. Jon Ragel/NBCU/Getty

But Perry wasn't alone when it came to his devotion to the studio audience — their reaction was huge for both his fellow castmates and the creators of the show.

"We would listen to the audience and if a joke didn't land, even if we loved that joke, they were telling us it's not good enough," co-creator David Crane said during the special. "So we would put our heads together and try to beat it."

Cox, too, said the crowd pushed her to give her best performance.

"When they would laugh at something, I would think to myself, 'Oh, if you think that's funny, wait until you get a load of this next line,'" said the actress, 56. "I felt this rewarding feeling, or not [if they didn't laugh]."

"I really enjoyed the energy of the live audience," agreed Schwimmer, 54. "I mean, it was like doing a one-act play every week with all of us."

Friends: The Reunion is streaming on HBO Max.

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