In the aftermath of his death, many people have looked back on Friends‘ star Matthew Perry‘s entire career to find ways to appreciate what he brought to all of his various projects.
While most people agree that Perry was never able to fully replicate the enormous success he had with Friendshe was undeniably a captivating screen presence, and there is a huge array of other TV and movie projects that highlight his skills as an actor and comedian. His death was an undeniable tragedy, but Perry left us with plenty of great examples of just how brilliant he could be on-screen.
17 Again (2009)
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Perry’s last film role, 17 Again is an underrated comedy that Perry elevates from the second the movie begins. The movie, which is almost like a reverse version of Bigis primarily a Zac Efron vehicle and imagines a middle-aged man who finds himself transformed into his teenage self once again.
The film gives its opening and closing moments to Perry, though, and it’s Perry who elevates the movie’s comedy and laces it with vulnerability. While 17 Again may not be a perfect movie, it’s got plenty of charm, and Perry is one of the movie’s assets from the second he shows up on screen.
The Odd Couple (2015-2017)
After you’ve starred in something like Friendsevery other sitcom role you take on can feel like a bit of a comedown. Even so, Perry’s run on The Odd Couple captured much of the magic that made him one of the best joke deliverers on Friends.
The show was a reboot of a classic sitcom, and this version followed Perry as Oscar Madison and Thomas Lennon as his much more uptight roommate Felix Unger. Perry also served as an executive producer on this show, and while you might think that The Odd Couple is a little conventional, it’s hard to deny that it was funny.
Go On (2012-2013)
A more unconventional dramedy, Go On follows Perry as a sports radio host who joins a support group to work through the death of his wife. Although Go On is, at least in theory, a comedy, it’s one that’s laced with meaty conversations about grief and death.
Perry didn’t often get the chance to show off his purely dramatic chops on Friendsbut when he did, he showed impressive levels of pathos and vulnerability. Go On gives him more opportunities to play the dramatic end of things, even as he maintains the wry wit that made him so popular on Friends.
Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip (2006-2007)
Perry’s first post-Friends TV project was Studio 60 on the Sunset Stripwhich also happened to be writer Aaron Sorkin’s follow-up to The West Wing. Set behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show that is similar to Saturday Night Livebut is emphatically not SNL, Studio 60 gave Perry a chance to deliver his take on some of the sharpest and most distinct writing on TV.
Studio 60 was not the kind of enormous success that The West Wing had been, but the show still has its defenders, and it’s undeniably a great opportunity for Perry to show what he was capable of.
Fools Rush In (1997)
A romantic comedy that may have felt forgettable when it was first released, Fools Rush In feels like a revelation in retrospect. The movie, which was released while Friends was still fairly early in its run, follows Perry’s character as he is forced to confront real responsibilities for the first time.
A perpetual bachelor who finds out that he got a woman (played by Black Mirror‘s Salma Hayek) pregnant during a one-night stand, he must wrestle with familial expectations and what he wants from his own life. It’s a wonderful performance from Perry, who on top of delivering solid jokes, also has wonderful chemistry with Hayek.