Julia Roberts says death of ex-boyfriend Matthew Perry was 'heartbreaking'


Julia Roberts and Matthew Perry briefly dated in the 1990s after she was approached to guest star in 'Friends'. Photo: Handout

Julia Roberts has been hugging her loved ones a little tighter since the death of Friends star Matthew Perry in late October.

"The sudden passing of anybody so young is heartbreaking," the actress recently told Entertainment Tonight. "I think that, you know, it just helps all of us just appreciate what we have and to keep going in a positive way as best we can."

The Oscar winner and Perry briefly dated in the 1990s after Roberts was approached to guest star in his mega-hit sitcom. By the time she filmed her episode, The One After The Super Bowl, the two were already an item. In Perry's 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing, the actor wrote that he sent Roberts three dozen red roses with a card that read: "The only thing more exciting than the prospect of you doing the show is that I finally have an excuse to send you flowers."

"Three or four times a day I would sit by my fax machine and watch the piece of paper slowly revealing her next missive," he wrote.

"I was so excited that some nights I would find myself out at some party sharing a flirtatious exchange with an attractive woman and cut the conversation short so I could race home and see if a new fax had arrived.

"It was like she was placed on this planet to make the world smile, and now, in particular, me," he continued. "I was grinning like some 15-year-old on his first date."

During a February 1996 appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, Roberts was giddy when she confirmed the two were a couple.

"I am dating this Matthew Perry," she said. "Here's the thing. You know, I've been going out with Matthew Perry, and for some reason, maybe because I did the Super Bowl show people think it is the Matthew Perry from Friends. But in fact, it's his haberdasher that I met in Hoboken, but you know, Matthew Perry from Friends is nice, too. So I don't mind that mistake."

When Letterman asked if she was telling a little fib, she coyly replied, "yes." She said that Perry had called her up out of the blue and recalled their first date.

"I was very nervous because he's awfully clever and you know, funny and handsome and I was nervous," she said.

Perry detailed the end of their months-long fling in his memoir writing that dating a massive star like Roberts was too intense for him — and he was terrified that she'd break up with him.

"Instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts," he wrote. "She might have considered herself slumming it with a TV guy, and TV guy was now breaking up with her. I can't begin to describe the look of confusion on her face."

Perry was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home Oct 28. He was 54. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

His memoir, which included the Roberts revelations and chronicled his addiction and sobriety journey, returned to the top of Amazon's bestseller list in the days after his death. The Matthew Perry Foundation launched last month, less than a week after the actor's death, to raise money to assist people battling addiction.

Before his sudden death, the actor had been working to establish his fund. Perry was candid about his lifelong battle with addiction: He long said that when he died, he did not want Friends to be the first thing people remembered about him. Rather, he wanted them to remember his efforts to help others who also sought recovery.

"The Matthew Perry Foundation is the realisation of Matthew's enduring commitment to helping others struggling with the disease of addiction," a statement read on the fund's website. "It will honour his legacy and be guided by his own words and experiences and driven by his passion for making a difference in as many lives as possible."

Perry told The Times during the Festival of Books in April that he wanted to be remembered as "a guy who lived life, loved well, lived well and helped people. That running into me was a good thing, and not something bad."

Late last month, several of Perry's Friends co-stars broke their silence on his death with individual posts recalling what the actor meant to each of them. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service

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