Online Interview - Q & A with Matthew Perry
The following interview is taken from the E! online website
A kiss-and-tell talk about Tango, Friends, Bruce Willis and drug addiction
by Jeanne Wolf and Shep Morgan
Is Chandler Bing ready for the big screen? His alter ego, Matthew Perry, certainly is. The funniest Friend is flying high with a new flick--and, at age 30, a new attitude.
You get to kiss Neve Campbell in your new movie, Three to Tango, but she's only one of many on your list of beauties kissed...
That's right. I get to kiss Courteney [Cox] on Friends. Then, there was Salma Hayek [in Fools Rush In]. And I just did this movie where I get to kiss Natasha Henstridge. It's not a bad life.
Growing up, did you ever imagine you'd get to be intimate with so many babes?
I certainly envisioned myself kissing beautiful women--but not onscreen. Actually, as a kid I wanted to be a tennis player, but I wasn't good enough, so I became an actor. Since then, I've just been lip-locking with gorgeous babes. So, let that be a lesson to all you little tennis players out there.
Your character in Three to Tango, Oscar, walks a fine line with the whole gay/not-gay hook. Were you concerned the movie would become one big gay joke?
Well, it was offered to me about four years ago, and I passed because basically it was then a one-gay-joke movie. Eventually they sent me a new script, which I thought was a very smart, adult revision. The main theme reminds me of one of the best movies ever, Tootsie.
You know the scene where Dustin Hoffman says to Jessica Lange, "I was a better man as a woman with you than I ever was as a man with a woman"? What that means is that because she thought he was something different, she really got to know him. That's the theme of Three to Tango. Neve's character is convinced I'm gay, so I'm able to drop all that stupid guy stuff like trying to get her into bed.
It becomes about two people really getting to know each other while falling in love.
Didn't Chandler go through a similar experience on Friends?
There was an episode the first season that was one of my favorites, where people were trying to deal with the fact that everybody thought Chandler was gay. We've ended up doing little jokes about that throughout the years on the series. I did see Three to Tango as sort of a movie version of that.Does making a movie about relationships make you a better boyfriend for your significant other, Rene Ashton?
Just living my life has made me a better boyfriend. I used to have the same kind of problem Oscar has in Three to Tango, where you're just not really being yourself in a relationship. You know how you go on a first date and you're the best version of yourself? It's like, "Here's how wonderful I am." Well, after the first date, weeks would go by and I would still be doing that.
I realized by the time I turned 30, which happened this year, that I would be going out with girls and they would think I was really funny, but I would know absolutely nothing about them. I decided that's just not the way to go. I have tried to listen more and get to know the person I'm with.
How did you meet Rene?
We met through the personals. I put in an ad: "Friends star, Three to Tango star, has nice house. Please help." I got a couple thousand letters. No, I'm kidding.
Okay, so what's the real story?
We actually met at a Kings hockey game four years ago. She was with a person I went to high school with, so I started talking to her. I was flirting with this cute girl, but I didn't have the courage to ask her out. I left and was standing in the parking lot. Suddenly, I thought to myself, "This is stupid. I should go in and ask this girl out." I went back in, but I couldn't find her.
Four years later, I was at a restaurant, and there she was again. She came up to me and said, "You know, we've met." I said, "Yes, you were wearing a black coat, and I wanted to ask you out. I don't want to make the same mistake twice, so let's go out." And we did, and it's been good. We've been together about nine months.
Since Rene is an actress, is there any chance she'll make an appearance on Friends?
There's a better chance she'll show up on the tennis court. I got her a membership at my club. We haven't played yet. I literally did this a few days ago. We've got rackets, though. Of course, I'll let her win.
Speaking of relationships, how's it going to work with Chandler and Monica living together on Friends?
The key to sitcom success is miserable people. If you see a happy couple, it's just gone, like when Sam and Diane got together on Cheers. So, we haven't taken that chance. There's going to be a lot of fighting between Chandler and Monica. They're such a cool couple to watch 'cause they're both so neurotic. The neat thing is that the two most neurotic people on the show are trying to have a relationship. As soon as it becomes lovey-dovey, it will change.
Is the cast in negotiations for another season?
Nope. We really don't know what's going to happen. We're not even talking about it. Even if we were talking about it, I probably wouldn't tell you. But, actually, I swear, we really aren't. We're just having a really good time doing the show. Creatively, I think Friends is in top form.
In the movie you're making with Natasha Henstridge, The Whole Nine Yards, what do you play?
I'm a dorky dentist who lives in the suburbs of Montreal. The biggest hit man in the world, played by Bruce Willis, moves in right next door to me. My character is scared of Bruce throughout the entire movie. I have to say that, as an actor, I was scared of the thought of working with him.
You were actually afraid of Bruce Willis?
The truth is, Bruce was very scared to work with me, but he calmed down. No, actually, I really was a bit intimidated. Before we started the film, he called me and left a message on my answering machine--"Hey, Matthew, it's Bruce Willis. Call me back, or I'll burn your house down."
By the end of the shoot, though, we became really tight. I learned a lot from him. Bruce is a big movie star, but not in a bad way. He's just very confident.
You have a terrific sense of humor about life. Did that help you get through the tough times?
Going through the tough times didn't really help me have a sense of humor about it. You're talking about when I had a problem with Vicodin, aren't you? I got addicted to that little pill.
The reason I don't talk about it too much in the press is because it isn't funny, and I love to be funny in interviews. If you joke about that period in your life, it doesn't seem right.
Can you address it here?
What I will say about it is, I don't necessarily know that I would go through the whole process again, but having gone through it, I feel much stronger as a person. You get out of that place and realize you're no longer there. Once you get over it, it's like, "Throw anything at me, I'll be able to get through it."
There are two ways to go when you hit that crossroads in your life: There is the bad way, when you sort of give up, and then there is the really hard way, when you fight back. I went the hard way and came out of it okay. Now, I'm sitting here and doing great.