Matthew Perry Quit ‘Don’t Look Up’ After Medical Emergency Stopped His Heart for 5 Minutes

Perry's heart stopped beating after an overdose, leading him to make the "heartbreaking" decision to leave the Oscar-nominated Adam McKay film.
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Matthew Perry attends "The Circle" premiere during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 26, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Matthew Perry
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan

Matthew Perry parted ways with Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” after a medical emergency.

Perry, who has struggled with sobriety for decades, wrote in his upcoming memoir “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” that he had to exit the 2021 satire following a medical emergency in which his heart stopped beating for five minutes.

“It wasn’t a heart attack — I didn’t flatline — but nothing had been beating,” Perry wrote (via Rolling Stone) after taking hydrocodone and propofol at a rehab center in Switzerland. “I was told that some beefy Swiss guy really didn’t want the guy from ‘Friends’ dying on his table and did CPR on me for the full five minutes, beating and pounding my chest. If I hadn’t been on ‘Friends,’ would he have stopped at three minutes? Did ‘Friends’ save my life again?”

The lifesaving tactics employed by the medical professional resulted in breaking eight of Perry’s ribs. Perry wrote that he was in too much pain to return to the “Don’t Look Up” set after having filmed a scene already opposite Jonah Hill. Perry noted that the decision was “heartbreaking” and took him out of the “biggest movie I’d gotten ever.”

Perry was set to play a Republican journalist and was slated to also appear in scenes alongside Meryl Streep. Ultimately, the one scene Perry did film was cut from the theatrical release.

“Don’t Look Up” was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture. Writer-director McKay told IndieWire that backlash to the controversial film helped fuel its success.

“Suddenly, it became like I was saying critics can’t say anything, and of course they can. It’s important to have debate and passionate critics,” McKay said. “We’re living at a time like no other and stories are part of it. People should be hating them, loving them, going back and forth. We welcome the negative reviews. I actually think it’s really good, that people should be fighting and passionate about it.”

As for the climate change message in the movie, McKay added, “I think the freakout people are feeling goes across political lines. There’s a chance to do a comedy that can relate to both people who voted for Trump and progressives and centrist democrats. The need to laugh and share is there…I think we have to remember we’re part of a giant world. Maybe we’ll get through this and somewhere else will surprise us. I’m very worried that the timeframe is so tight on the climate, but we do have some pretty remarkable science out there. When we feel a decent amount of pain, we snap awake.”

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