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Matthew Perry Apologizes for Keanu Reeves Insult in Memoir: ‘I Just Chose a Random Name’

In his forthcoming memoir, Perry said, "Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?"

Matthew Perry, Keanu Reeves

Matthew Perry, Keanu Reeves

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After passages from his upcoming memoir referencing Keanu Reeves went viral for all the wrong reasons, Matthew Perry issued an apology to the actor.

On Wednesday, Variety and The New York Post shared excerpts from “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” Perry’s upcoming memoir about his career and struggles with addiction. In the passages, Perry discusses his friendship with the late River Phoenix, with whom he worked on the 1988 film “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon,” and his reaction to Phoenix’s death in 1993 from an overdose.

“River was a beautiful man, inside and out — too beautiful for this world, it turned out,” Perry wrote in the book. “It always seems to be the really talented guys who go down. Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us? River was a better actor than me; I was funnier. But I certainly held my own in our scenes — no small feat, when I look back decades later.”

Perry references Reeves again in a later passage when he recounts his reaction to the news that Chris Farley, with whom he worked on the film “Almost Heroes,” died in 1997, also from an overdose: “His disease had progressed faster than mine had. (Plus, I had a healthy fear of the word ‘heroin,’ a fear we did not share),” Perry writes. “I punched a hole through Jennifer Aniston’s dressing room wall when I found out. Keanu Reeves walks among us. I had to promote ‘Almost Heroes’ two weeks after he died; I found myself publicly discussing his death from drugs and alcohol. I was high the entire time.”

“I’m actually a big fan of Keanu,” Perry said in a statement to People Magazine. “I just chose a random name, my mistake. I apologize. I should have used my own name instead.”

Representatives for Perry and his publisher, Flatiron Books, did not respond to IndieWire’s requests for comment.

On social media, many users took offense to Perry’s remarks, particularly given that Reeves and Phoenix, who co-starred in 1991’s “My Own Private Idaho,” were close friends. Actors such as Rachel Zegler, Lynda Carter, and Rahul Kohli shared their support for Reeves on Twitter.

Elsewhere in his memoir, Perry shared numerous other stories about his struggles with addiction, such as a 2018 opioid overdose that nearly killed him, and a medical emergency that forced him to drop out of Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up.”

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