Fans flock to remember ‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry in New York
Matthew Perry was always their friend, too.
That was the feeling among fans of the American actor, known for his iconic role as Chandler Bing on the hit sitcom “Friends,” as they gathered Sunday outside the New York apartment building used in the show’s filming.
“I grew up watching him,” said Taylor Lanthier, 26, who was among those making the pilgrimage, where many left flowers and handwritten letters in Perry’s memory.
The 54-year-old was found dead Saturday — too soon for many fans, in a testament to the staying power of “Friends,” which aired from 1994-2004 and continues to live on for viewers across generations in reruns and on streaming services.
The light rain wasn’t enough to keep visitors from paying their respects on the instantly recognizable street corner in the trendy West Village neighborhood where the six-story building sits, adorned in classic New York style with a brick facade and metal fire escapes.
“I’m sure you could find stories of people who move to New York because of the show ‘Friends,'” said Chris Triebel, 39, who leads tours focusing on TV shows and movies filmed in the city.
And part of that would be due to Perry’s Chandler, himself a sarcastic 20-something who long resisted growing up.
“He’s had a very impactful role in my life and always has given me tons of laughs, and it’s sad to hear about his passing,” said Lanthier, who recently graduated law school in Vancouver.
“Chandler is a funny guy. He’s a loving guy. He’s someone who’s very dedicated to his friends,” she added. “And that’s what I think Matthew was as well.”
“I just wanted to pay my respects,” she said, having come with a yellow rose that she placed next to a note left by another passerby.
It read: “Thank you for all the laughs.”
- ‘Gone too soon’ –
Like much of American pop culture, the show had been reevaluated by some in recent years, criticized for its lack of diversity or the simple, sanitized reality it presented.
It was also filmed in California, with the building at 90 Bedford Street used for establishing shots.
Yet none of that stopped the West Village neighborhood from becoming a place of interest for fans across generations, who have been making the trek to the building for years — even if Central Perk, the New York coffee shop where the friends spent so much time, was also a figment of the screenwriters’ imagination.
“It’s just a lighthearted show,” said Eva, a 16-year-old high school student who lives nearby.
“It was something that I watched when I was sad or just if I wanted a nice laugh.”
Triebel, the tour guide, had already planned a stop outside the building before Perry’s death, though the news had given the visit a somber air.
“He’s one who’s definitely gone too soon,” he said. “I think there was a lot more that he could have done.”
by Andréa BAMBINO
©️ Agence France-Presse