Nobody told him life was gonna be this way.

When the smash hit Friends hit the airwaves back in 1994 no one could have predicted the iconic cultural phenomenon it would become.

Arguably two of the best characters were America’s sweetheart, Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), and sarcastic goofball, Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry).

On-screen they never ventured past the “friend zone.” But off-screen, Perry was falling hard for his co-star.

The One Where Matthew Perry Wanted To Be More Than Just Friends

For years, Matthew Perry had been nursing strong feelings for Jennifer Aniston. In his memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, he shares that it started long before the duo starred together on the hit tv show. It began when they were introduced by mutual acquaintances.

“I was immediately taken by her (how could I not be?) and I liked her, and I got the sense she was intrigued too — maybe it was going to be something,” he wrote.

She meant so much to him that she was the first person he called when he got an acting gig. “Bad idea,” he wrote. “I could feel ice forming through the phone. Looking back, it was clear that this made her think I liked her too much or in the wrong kind of way.”

And yet, he persevered and asked her out.

She rejected him.

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Three years later the two would awkwardly reunite on the set of Friends. Aniston was happy to be working with her old friend but Perry struggled with having to see her every day. In their years apart, his feelings for her hadn’t diminished. If anything, they had just grown stronger.

“Fairly early in the making of Friends I realized that I was still crushing badly on Jennifer Aniston,” he explained. “Our hellos and goodbyes became awkward. And then I’d ask myself, ‘How long can I look at her? Is three seconds too long?'”

However, at the same time that he was hiding his true feelings for Aniston, he was also hiding something much more sinister.

Matthew Perry Struggled With Addiction For Decades

When Perry was just 30 days old, his doctor put him on highly-addictive phenobarbital pills to calm his colic. It would be a grim foreshadowing of the path his life would take.

Plagued by crippling insecurity and a desperate need for approval, he turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain when he was just 14 years old.

However, it wasn’t until many years later that his life really began spiraling out of control. Being on Friends was a dream come true, but it came at a cost. “I felt like I was gonna die if they didn’t laugh…I felt like that every single night,” he shared during Friends: The Reunion.

At the height of his addiction, Perry was consuming 55 Vicodin a day, even stooping so low as to stealing pills at open houses.

What Did Jennifer Aniston Do To Help Save Matthew Perry’s Life?

Perry thought he was hiding his pain, but there was one person who saw through it — Jenny.

In a moment he describes in his memoir as “devastating,” Aniston confronted Perry in his trailer about his drinking, saying: “We know you’re drinking.”

Shocked because he never drank on set and thought he was hiding it so well, Perry asked her how she knew. “We can smell it.”

It was a wake-up call and one that he never forgot. To this day, Perry said, Aniston’s words stuck with him.

But she had no idea how much worse it would get for her friend.

Finally, one night it all came crashing down. “I was rushed to the hospital. They told my family that I had a 2% chance to live.” Perry’s heart literally stopped for 5 minutes. Yet, somehow he survived.

When Perry finally hit rock bottom, having to nearly die to live, it’s Aniston who was there for him.

While she didn’t end up becoming the love of his life, Perry credits her love for him with playing a pivotal role in helping to save his life.

“She was the one to reach out the most, I’m really grateful to her for that,” Perry said.

Today, Matthew Perry Has Found His Happy Ending

Aftering spending decades battling his demons with addiction, Perry is finally free.

“It was a combination of feeling like I wasn’t enough, feeling like I was needy, feeling like I didn’t matter. I know what that is now, and I don’t suffer from it anymore,” he said.

And now, he’s doing for others what Aniston did for him. “I’ll Be There For You,” wasn’t just a theme song, it became THEIR SONG. And today, Perry is acting that out in the lives of those who are fighting their own battles.

“The best thing about me, bar none, is if somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I can’t stop drinking, can you help me?’ I can say ‘Yes’ and follow up and do that.”

Because sometimes, the greatest gift you can give someone, is the knowledge that they are not alone.