Friends director James Burrows mourned the loss of actor Matthew Perry in an exclusive Today show interview this morning. “I had to have a couple of days to just let it soak in,” Burrows said on the NBC morning show. “He was part of a family and he was the first one to not be part of that family anymore.”
Burrows, who directed the first four episodes of the longrunning series, said that upon hearing the news of Perry’s death at 54 last Saturday, he reached out to some of the show’s cast – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow.
“I had texted the girls the day we found out,” Burrows said. “They were destroyed. It’s a brother dying.”
“He was incredibly inventive,” Burrows said of Perry’s star-making performance as Chandler Bing. “He was inventive with how he did a line.” The director said Perry was, in some ways, similar to the character.
“He was really funny,” Burrows said. “He was a little awkward, too. Chandler was awkward. And Matthew was awkward. So it was a perfect, perfect meld.”
Burrows recalled talking to the cast just before Friends first aired. “I took them to dinner at Spago and this is a true story. I said to the six of them, ‘Put your seatbelt on because this is your last shot at anonymity,’” Burrows said.
The director also remembered an episode he particularly liked, in which Perry’s Chandler gets stuck in an ATM vestibule with Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre.
“His facial expressions were amazing and Matthew could always cut to his face,” he said. “He was always aware that even though he wasn’t speaking, he was on camera.”
As for Perry’s lifelong struggles with addiction and alcoholism, Burrows said, “We were so proud of him these last couple of years that he was making a remarkable recovery.”
Watch the interview with Burrows above.