Simpsons star Hank Azaria has opened up about how his old friend Matthew Perry helped him get sober – and revealed a vulgar prank the late Friends star liked to play in public toilets.
Azaria, 59, moved to Los Angeles when he was 21, and he met then-16-year-old Perry while doing a pilot together called Morning Maggie, which never saw the light of day.
The duo went on to have a lifelong friendship – and Azaria even played David, Phoebe’s love interest on Perry’s groundbreaking hit series Friends.
Perry, who died last month after being found in the hot tub of his Los Angeles home, was buried Friday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Azaria recalls fond memories of one of his oldest friends, who also helped him get sober.
Simpsons star Hank Azaria has opened up about how his old friend Matthew Perry helped him get sober – and revealed a vulgar prank the late Friends star liked to play in public toilets
David: Azaria played David, Phoebe’s (Lisa Kudrow) love interest in Perry’s groundbreaking hit series Friends
He had been open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol – and it was a journey that also helped his girlfriend Azaria, who voiced several characters on The Simpsons.
In an op-ed written for the New York times, Azaria wrote, “Matthew Perry said he wanted to be remembered as someone who helped people get sober, even more than he wanted to be remembered as a very funny, famous friend. I think he will be remembered as both.
“I know I’ll always think of him like that. We met almost forty years ago and he was by far the funniest friend I ever had. He was also the person who helped me get sober.
“He took me to my first AA meeting in 2005. Matthew had stopped drinking a few years earlier. He had a hard time with it, that’s for sure. I didn’t need any rehabilitation, but I knew I had a very serious problem, so I called Matthew and asked him to take me to a meeting.’
As they walked into the room in Brentwood, California, Azaria said, “He looked at me and said in his Matthew, half-joking, very loving way, ‘It’s something, isn’t it? God is a bunch of drunks in a room together.”’
The actor continued, “What we become certain of over time is that the most unfortunate and terrible things we face are actually our greatest strength, because they connect us to others.
Azaria also took to his social media to pay tribute to Perry, the first friend he made in LA
‘In AA I heard stories that were worse than mine, much worse. And yet these people were smiling and calm, connected and happy. I wanted that.
‘God was a bunch of drunks in a room together. I think about that sentence every day.’
He remembered Matthew’s jokes at the McDonald’s drive-thru, and how he would make a high-pitched screeching noise in the bathroom to make people laugh.
Retelling the hilarious moments, Azaria said: “Every time we went to a public toilet together, I begged him – I said, ‘Please don’t do it, Matthew.’ He’d say, “Okay.” He then went to a stable and started making small, high, straining ‘ow’ sounds, which would build to a crescendo of a man screaming at full volume as if he was giving birth to whatever was coming out of him in there. .’
The actor added: “What I was surprised by was the depths to which he could go in his profound understanding of human nature and human shortcomings – his own shortcomings and those of others. It gave him a lot of compassion for other people.
‘Tragically, I think he had much more compassion for me and for everyone else than he did for himself.
‘I was unlucky enough to need his help – or lucky, depending on how you look at it. And certainly happy that he received that help and friendship directly from him.
“I was also a big fan of his and felt the friendship we all feel through ‘Friends.’ I consider myself blessed to have experienced both.
“And I do want to say that when you go into recovery, while for me there will only be one of the real ones, you will find your own Matthew Perry. You will find someone to laugh with and connect with. You will find someone who understands your story.
“You’ll find someone who seems to care more about you than themselves. I think Matthew especially wants people to know that.”
Perry’s Friends co-stars gathered together on Friday and were seen comforting each other outside the church where the 54-year-old was buried.
Jennifer Aniston, 54; Lisa Kudrow, 60; Courteney Cox, 59; and David Schwimmer, 57, arrived as a quartet — all dressed in black suits and looking somber as they prepared to say their final goodbyes to their beloved co-star.
After the simple hour-long ceremony, they were joined outside the church by Matt LeBlanc, 56, and were pictured chatting with other well-wishers.
His tearful mother Suzanne Morrison, 84, and Dateline journalist stepfather Keith, 76, were both at the private event, as was his father John Perry, 82. Morrison was one of the pallbearers.
After the service, Perry was buried in a dark wooden casket in a family-only ceremony.