Hank Azaria on Matthew Perry’s intimate funeral: ‘We were alternately laughing and crying remembering him’

Hank Azaria has described the tears and laughter that were shared at Matthew Perry’s funeral last week.

Perry, who was best known for playing the sarcastic Chandler Bing on NBC’s long-running sitcom Friends, was found dead in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home on 28 October. He was 54.

His funeral was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles on Friday 3 November. All five lead actors from the Friends cast – Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer – were among the 20 people estimated to be in attendance.

Also attending the funeral was actor and comedian Azaria, who played Phoebe Buffay’s (Lisa Kudrow) boyfriend David on the sitcom. Azaria and Perry were both sports fans and would often attend games together, with Azaria previously saying that his former co-star helped him get sober.

“I was at the funeral last weekend,” Azaria, 59, toldThe Messenger, describing the environment at the event as “sad”.

“He was a hilarious man, so we would sort of [be] alternately laughing and crying remembering him,” he added. “We’ve all had people we’ve lost. The world really lost him. In a way, it’s nice to have the world sort of sharing with you.”

Following Perry’s death, Azaria shared a video describing his friendship with the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip star. Perry, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction throughout his life, helped Azaria deal with his own addiction problems.

Perry (left) and Azaria in 2002 (Getty Images)
Perry (left) and Azaria in 2002 (Getty Images)

“I really loved him,” Azaria said. “From a recovery perspective – I mean, I’m a sober guy for 17 years. I want to say that the night I went into AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Matthew brought me in.

“The whole first year I was sober, we went to meetings together... As a sober person, he was so caring and giving and wise and he totally helped me get sober. I really wish he could have found it in himself to stay with the sober life more consistently.”

Azaria added: “A lot of us who were close to him felt like we lost him to drugs and alcohol a long time ago, because, as he documented in his autobiography, there was so much suffering.”

Perry was laid to rest in Los Angeles on 3 November (Getty Images)
Perry was laid to rest in Los Angeles on 3 November (Getty Images)

In the wake of Perry’s death, a foundation was set up in his name to help people recovering from addiction. Azaria, who runs his own foundation that helps school students from low socio-economic backgrounds, said that he was working to get the two foundations to collaborate.

“I just found out he was just setting that up,” he told The Messenger. “I have my own foundation, [and] I just made some calls in that endeavor, to connect to them. Whatever I can do to continue his mission, of spreading the word of recovery, and helping folks, I’ll do whatever I can.”

On Friday (10 November), Perry’s death certificate was released. The paperwork states that the actor’s cause of death remains “deferred”, after it was deemed “inconclusive” when an initial postmortem showed no signs of meth or fentanyl in his system.

A conclusive update is not expected for “four to six months” with further tests currently underway, it has been reported.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, you can confidentially call the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or visit the NHS website here for information about the programmes available to you.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, you can seek confidential help and support 24-7 from Frank, by calling 0300 123 6600, texting 82111, sending an email or visiting their website here.

In the US, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP