Perry released a number of excerpts from “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing” — and sat down for several interviews — ahead of his book’s November 1 release. And while a number of the “Whole Nine Yards” star’s revelations were shocking — he admitted to taking upwards of 55 Vicodin per day at one point — none prompted so much backlash as his apparent digs at Reeves.
The first mention came when Perry discussed his friendship with the late actor River Phoenix — who died of a drug overdose at 23 outside Hollywood’s notorious Viper Room on October 31, 1993.
“The list of geniuses who were ahead of their time is too long to detail here — suffice to say, near the top of any such list should be my costar in ‘A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon,’ River Phoenix,” Perry wrote, later adding, “River was a beautiful man, inside and out — too beautiful for this world, it turned out.”
“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 continued.
Perry name-dropped Reeves again later when he addressed the untimely death of another costar, Chris Farley.
“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 said of the comedian. “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.”
The backlash to Perry’s comments was swift.
“In a world full of Matthew Perry’s … be a Keanu Reeves,” Billy Baldwin said.
In a world full of Matthew Perry’s… be a Keanu Reeves.
— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) October 27, 2022
“I think it’s nice that in a time of such division in our country we can at least all come together and exclaim that no one gets to f*** with Keanu Reeves,” Liz Vassey added.
“Personally thrilled that Keanu Reeves walks among us,” Rachel Zegler tweeted.
“Of all the people in Hollywood, there’s absolutely no reason to come for Keanu Reeves who even after personal tragedy has remained, by accounts, generous and kind. He just makes movies and comics, treats his cast and crew right, and minds his own business,” Richard Newby added.
“Wonder Woman” Lynda Carter wasn’t impressed either: “Come on … Keanu Reeves is like one of those frozen cakes. Nobody doesn’t like him!”
Keanu Reeves is like one of those frozen cakes. Nobody doesn’t like him!
— Lynda Carter (@RealLyndaCarter) October 26, 2022
“Keanu Reeves secretly donates millions to children’s hospitals. He gifted Matrix stuntmen Harleys as thanks. He bought ice cream just for a receipt he could autograph for a fan. He organized a road trip for fellow stranded air passengers. Walk on, Keanu,” came from former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
Conservative radio host Dana Loesch added, “Keep Keanu’s name out of your mouth, Chandler.”
Keep Keanu’s name out of your mouth, Chandler https://t.co/nRh2rGDyMr
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) October 27, 2022
“Mystery Science Theater 3000” alum Bill Corbett announced, “I’m nominating Matthew Perry for Unforced Error of the Year.”
I’m nominating Matthew Perry for Unforced Error of the Year
— Bill Corbett’s Ghost (@BillCorbett) October 26, 2022
Perry responded to the kerfuffle in a statement to People Magazine, saying that he had not actually intended it to sound as though he had a problem with Reeves.
“I’m actually a big fan of Keanu. I just chose a random name, my mistake. I apologize. I should have used my own name instead,” he said.