Friends cast bracing for ‘bittersweet’  20th anniversary of finale without Matthew Perry

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The surviving cast of Friends are bracing themselves to mark the ‘bittersweet’ 20th anniversary of the show’s finale without Matthew Perry.

A few days before Halloween last year, Matthew was found dead in his hot tub at home at the age of 54, reportedly having drowned. 

Over the years, he was open about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, and an autopsy ultimately revealed he had succumbed to ‘acute effects of ketamine.’

Now his old co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc are said to be planning a get-together for the show’s milestone anniversary on May 6 – despite the ‘huge void’ left by Matthew’s death.

They ‘know Matthew would’ve wanted them to carry on and celebrate the show. So that’s very much on their minds as they move forward,’ a source told Us Weekly

The surviving cast of Friends are bracing themselves to mark the ‘bittersweet’ 20th anniversary of the show’s finale without Matthew Perry (pictured 2016)

(from left) David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Paul Rudd and Lisa Kudrow are all pictured on the Friends finale

(from left) David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, Courteney Cox, Paul Rudd and Lisa Kudrow are all pictured on the Friends finale

After a decade on the air, the show aired an hourlong finale in May 2004 that brought the main love stories to a happy resolution

After a decade on the air, the show aired an hourlong finale in May 2004 that brought the main love stories to a happy resolution

Over the course of its wildly successful 10-season run, Friends catapulted all six of its main cast members to worldwide superstardom.

After a decade on the air, the show aired an hourlong finale in May 2004 that brought the main love stories to a happy resolution.

Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) finally wound up in each other’s arms, culminating an on-off romance that lasted throughout the series.

Meanwhile Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courteney Cox) joyfully adopted twins after undergoing a heartbreaking fertility struggle. 

Adding a touch of melancholy to the proceedings, Chandler and Monica moved with their babies out of New York City and away from their closest pals. 

With the 20th anniversary approaching, an insider has revealed how the cast will mark the occasion, saying: ‘The prospect of having a reunion or a formal get-together without Matthew is bittersweet. There will be a huge void.’

However the cast ‘will most certainly be commemorating it somehow,’ and are having ‘ongoing discussions’ about a private reunion, it is claimed.

‘Matthew’s death reminded them how precious life is and the importance of catching up with each other more frequently,’ said the source. ‘It underlined the unbreakable bond they share and the need to look out for each other.’

A few days before Halloween last year, Matthew was found dead in his hot tub at home at the age of 54, after succumbing to 'acute effects of ketamine'; pictured 2016

A few days before Halloween last year, Matthew was found dead in his hot tub at home at the age of 54, after succumbing to ‘acute effects of ketamine’; pictured 2016

The whole friends cast are pictured in a selfie they took while shooting the HBO reunion special in 2021, about two years before Matthew's death

The whole friends cast are pictured in a selfie they took while shooting the HBO reunion special in 2021, about two years before Matthew’s death

Jennifer in particular 'was in pieces for months' after losing Matthew, and 'Even now it’s something she finds difficult to reconcile'; pictured this month

Jennifer in particular ‘was in pieces for months’ after losing Matthew, and ‘Even now it’s something she finds difficult to reconcile’; pictured this month

Jennifer in particular ‘was in pieces for months’ after losing Matthew, and ‘Even now it’s something she finds difficult to reconcile.’ 

Matthew and Jennifer were especially close during the making of Friends, and he later confessed he had a ‘crush’ on her during the early days of the series.

His romantic feelings for her eventually ‘dissipated’ once he discovered Jennifer and David were sweet on each other, he revealed decades afterwards.

‘But how can you not have a crush on Jennifer Aniston, you know?’ Matthew said warmly on The Jess Cagle Show the year before his death.

During his time on the show Matthew retained a close bond with Jennifer, who confronted him when his addictions were spiraling out of control.

During his time on the show Matthew retained a close bond with Jennifer, who confronted him when his addictions were spiraling out of control

During his time on the show Matthew retained a close bond with Jennifer, who confronted him when his addictions were spiraling out of control

He was surprised, thinking he had been effectively concealing his drinking from the rest of the cast, but she told him they could smell the alcohol on his breath.

‘But I wasn’t in a position to stop, you know?’ Matthew said years later on Good Morning America. ‘And that’s what addiction is. But she was the one that reached out the most, you know. I’m really grateful to her for that.’

In 2004, the year Friends ended, Jennifer broke down in tears on TV while discussing Matthew’s struggles with drugs and alcohol.

‘We didn’t know,’ she told Diane Sawyer. ‘We, you know, we weren’t equipped, we weren’t – to deal with it. You know, nobody had ever dealt with that and, you know, the idea of even losing him or….,’ she trailed off, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

Matthew had his first drink at 14 and was drinking daily by 18, before getting hooked on Vicodin in 1997 while recovering from a jet ski accident.

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