Matthew Perry wanted to be remembered for more than his star-making turn as Chandler Bing.
"When I die, I know people will talk about Friends, Friends, Friends," he said on the Q With Tom Power podcast in 2022. "And I'm glad of that, happy I've done some solid work as an actor."
The actor, who died on Saturday at the age of 54, brought his comedic timing and charm to many of the roles he played. Here are some of our favorite Perry performances.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Aaron Sorkin's riff on the backstage drama behind a Saturday Night Live-style sketch comedy series remains one of the weirdest shows to ever air on primetime network television. This one-season wonder had everything: tone-deaf Gilbert and Sullivan parodies, two-parters where John Goodman threw a bunch of the cast in jail for some reason and truly demented office romances. But Perry always stood tall as the central spoke around which the increasingly unhinged storytelling revolved.
As the show-within-the-show's head writer Matt Albie, Perry's quick wit more than kept pace with Sorkin's walk-and-talk friendly wordplay and he consistently hit realistic notes in even the most implausible plot lines. Studio 60 famously premiered the same year as Tina Fey's 30 Rock, and it's tempting to imagine a timeline where Matt moved to New York City after his former show imploded to join the TGS writers room. The thought of Perry mixing it up with the likes of Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski couldn't be any funnier. — Ethan Alter
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is available to purchase on Prime Video.
The West Wing
Perry's role as Joe Quincy was brief — just three episodes — but it landed him an impressive two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2003 and 2004. And it's easy to see why. He was still on Friends, finishing up his role as Chandler Bing, when he played Joe Quincy, a Republican lawyer who joins the Democratic Bartlet administration as associate White House counsel.
As Quincy, Perry is thoughtful and understated as he uncovers a huge scandal in his very first day on the job. He rarely smiles, he doesn't crack any jokes and he keeps his arms by his side, but he still manages to stand out. — Raechal Shewfelt
The West Wing is currently streaming on Max.
Fools Rush In
One of my favorite romantic comedies of the '90s is Fools Rush In. Perry once said that was probably his best movie and I heartily agree. He played Alex Whitman, a sometimes uptight businessman, who has a one-night stand with Mexican-American photographer Isabel Fuentes (Salma Hayek). Isabel gets pregnant and they decide to try and make the relationship work as they get to know each other amid some big cultural differences. Perry brought his usual charm to the role and made the character someone you can't help but root for. It's funny, sweet and has all the trappings of a Hollywood rom-com at its best thanks to Perry and Hayek's chemistry.
Hayek paid tribute to her co-star on Instagram earlier this week. "Throughout the years, he and I found ourselves reminiscing about that meaningful time in our lives with a deep sense of nostalgia and gratitude," she wrote. "My friend, you are gone much too soon, but I will continue to cherish your silliness, your perseverance, and your lovely heart." — Taryn Ryder
Fools Rush In is available to rent or purchase on Prime Video.
Perry's performance as a grown-up Mike O'Donnell in 17 Again is another bright, heartwarming spot in his filmography. Starring opposite Leslie Mann (and double-casted with the dreamy Zac Efron), Perry plays a washed up, disconnected dad dealing with a divorce and a mid-life crisis in 17 Again.
Early on in the film, Mike meets a magical janitor who turns him back into his 17-year-old self to show that the grass isn't always greener on the younger side, so we only get to see Perry's version of Mike for a short time. Despite the brevity of his performance, Perry plays Mike perfectly, as a sad and complex character the audience can sympathize with — even though Mike is kind of the worst. — Danica Creahan
17 Again is currently streaming on Prime Video.
The Good Wife
Imagine hating Matthew Perry. It seems impossible, right?
When the actor's lanky figure and cheshire grin appear onscreen, it's an immediate signal that a lovable and, most importantly, relatable character is in our midst. Well, credit the casting team at The Good Wife for pulling off the ultimate trick on viewers by slotting Perry into four episodes in the middle of the slick CBS drama's third season as political shark Mike Kresteva.
Perry's turn as the conniving, gubernatorial candidate described as "Blagojevich dangerous" eliminated any doubts about his dramatic chops. Whether gaslighting Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) or cornering Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) in an elevator with an icy take-no-prisoners smirk, Perry waltzed into his mini-villain era seamlessly. And yet, even with diabolical greed oozing out of his pores, he allowed enough smarmy charm to break through that a win with voters seemed plausible. — Janine Schaults
The Good Wife is currently streaming on Paramount+, the Roku Channel and Freevee.
Friends: "The One with the Prom Video"
We couldn't have a Perry list without one Friends cameo. While the titular plot point of Episode 14 in Season 2 of Friends pulls focus on Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), "The One with the Prom Video" also features one of my favorite early Chandler moments.
Up until this point in the series, the character of Chandler Bing had stayed mostly on the shallow, snarky side. But when Joey (Matt LeBlanc) gives Chandler what is potentially the ugliest bracelet to ever be gifted — as a heartfelt thank you for being his "best bud" — we get to watch Perry's character struggle (and ultimately fail) to keep that snark at bay to spare his friend's feelings. This episode gives us an early hint of Chandler's tenderness towards Monica, lots of great Bing-isms, and, most importantly, a whole lot of "Bracelet Buddy" love. — D.C.
Friends is currently streaming on Max.