Perry was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts. His mother, Suzanne Jane Louise Morrison (née Langford), is a Canadian journalist and former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his father, John Bennett Perry, is an American actor and former model. Perry holds dual US/Canadian citizenship. His parents divorced before his first birthday and his mother is re-married to Keith Morrison, a broadcast journalist. Perry was raised by his mother in Ottawa. While growing up in Ontario, Perry took a keen interest in tennis and soon became a top-ranked junior player. He was enrolled at Rockcliffe Park Public School, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, and Ashbury College.
Perry moved from Ottawa to Los Angeles to pursue acting. For high school, he attended The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. While at Buckley, Perry was featured as George Gibbs in Our Town and appeared as a junior in a production of The Miracle Worker. Patty Duke attended and praised the young Perry's convincing role as Helen's brother Jimmy. He was also featured in The Sound of Music as a junior. In his senior year, director Tim Hillman had planned a production of "The Elephant Man" specifically to feature Perry as John Merrick along with Vanessa Smith, and future Les Misérables star Lisa Capps. He then got his professional break at age 18. On being cast in A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon with River Phoenix, Perry withdrew from Elephant Man and ended his high school acting career. Perry also pursued improv comedy at the LA Connection in Sherman Oaks while still in high school, quickly becoming a featured performer.
After some guest appearances in late 1980s television, it was his intention to enroll at the University of Southern California, but when he was offered the lead role of Chazz Russell in Second Chance he became noticed on the acting scene. Perry originally starred alongside Kiel Martin when the series premiered in 1987, but after 13 episodes the format changed: Second Chance became Boys Will Be Boys, Perry was elevated to top-billing status, and the plots re-focused on the adventures of Chazz and his teenage friends. Despite the shift, the show ran for only one season. When it concluded, Perry stayed in Los Angeles and made guest appearances on television programs, such as Growing Pains,Who's the Boss?,and Beverly Hills 90210 in which he portrayed a suicidal teenager.
In the midst of his many continuing guest roles on TV, Perry was a regular on the 1990 CBS farcial sitcom Sydney, playing the younger brother of Valerie Bertinelli's title character. Three years later, he landed his second TV starring role on the ABC sitcom Home Free, which only lasted 13 episodes in the spring of 1993. By then, Perry was making his mark, and was instantly cast in a new dramatic pilot titled LAX 2194. The project was slow to take off, so as a backup option, he attempted to secure an audition for the pilot Six of One, later to be known as Friends, by Marta Kauffman and David Crane, both of whom he had worked with on Dream On. However, due to previous commitments to the pilot LAX 2194, he was not initially considered for an audition. When he did eventually get a reading, he landed the part he is best known for, the role of Chandler Bing.
The program was hugely successful and Perry, along with his co-stars, gained wide renown among television viewers. The program also earned him Emmy nominations in 2002 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series along with Matt LeBlanc. But lost to Ray Romano.
As well as his successful career on Friends, Perry has appeared in films such as Fools Rush In (alongside father, John Bennett Perry and Salma Hayek), Almost Heroes, Three to Tango, The Whole Nine Yards (alongside Bruce Willis) and its sequel The Whole Ten Yards, and Serving Sara.
While known primarily for his comedic roles, Perry has carved out a career in drama as well, particularly in his portrayal of Associate White House Counsel Joe Quincy in Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing. His three appearances in that series (twice in the fourth season and once in the fifth) earned him two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2003 and 2004. Perry is referred to in the show prior to his guest appearance--Donna Moss seeks him out (off screen) in the episode "20 Hours in LA." He also appeared as attorney Todd Merrick in two episodes near the end of Ally McBeal's 5-season run, including a 2-hour special intended to revive the legal comedy-drama.
After Friends wrapped up, Perry made his directorial debut in an episode of the 4th season of Bill Lawrence's sitcom Scrubs (which he also guest starred in, as "Murray Marks" an operator of a small airport's traffic control team. Murray is asked to donate a kidney to his father Gregory, played by Perry's real father).
He starred in the TNT movie, The Ron Clark Story, which premiered on August 13, 2006. Perry played Ron Clark, a small town teacher who relocates to the toughest class in the country. He received a Golden Globe nomination as well as an Emmy nomination for the performance.
In 2006–2007, Perry appeared in Aaron Sorkin's hour-long drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Perry played Matt Albie alongside Bradley Whitford's Danny Tripp, a writer-director duo brought in to help save a failing sketch show. Perry's character was considered to be substantially based on Sorkin's own personal experiences, particularly in television.
In 2006 he began filming Numb, a comedy drama about a chronically depressed writer. The film's tentative release date has been pushed back several times, but was finally released to DVD on May 13, 2008. He also appeared in David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago in London. In Q1 of 2009, he will appear in the film 17 Again. He is set to co-write, executive produce, and star in a new Showtime series called "The End of Steve."
Perry developed an addiction to alcohol and to ease this he then became addicted to Vicodin. He first started taking prescription drugs after a jet ski accident in 1997 and checked himself into Hazelden. In 2000 he was hospitalized with pancreatitis as a result of his addictions. During that summer he lost 20 pounds, appearing noticeably thinner during the seventh season premiere of Friends, in a scene that continued directly from the sixth season finale. He has been to numerous rehabilitation centers, including Hazelden in Minnesota, Promises in Malibu, and a hospital outpatient clinic in Marina del Rey.
During the filming of Serving Sara, Perry checked into rehab. The last 13 days of filming were held up until he was well enough to return. The filming schedule on Friends was altered so scenes not featuring his character Chandler were shot first. His recovery once again caused weight fluctuations, which are particularly noticeable in Serving Sara.
He is also an enthusiastic Ottawa Senators fan, sporting a shirt with the Senators logo in the film The Whole Nine Yards and often attending playoff games in Ottawa. He is also a fan of other teams such as; New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays.
|1988||Dance 'Til Dawn||Roger|
|1989||She's Out of Control||Timothy|
|1997||Fools Rush In||Alex Whitman|
|1998||Almost Heroes||Leslie Edwards|
|1999||Three to Tango||Oscar Novak|
|2000||The Whole Nine Yards||Nicholas 'Oz' Oseransky|
|2002||Serving Sara||Joe Tyler|
|2004||The Whole Ten Yards||Nicholas 'Oz' Oseransky|
|2006||The Ron Clark Story||Ron Clark||telemovie|
|2008||Birds of America||Morrie Tanager|
|2009||17 Again||Mike O' Donnell (adult)
- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie The Ron Clark Story (2007) - Nominated
- Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series The West Wing (2003, 2004) - Nominated
- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Friends (2002) - Nominated
- Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television The Ron Clark Story (2007) - Nominated
American Comedy Awards
Kids' Choice Awards
- Favorite Television Actor Friends (2002) - Nominated
- Best Actor in a Series, Drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006) - Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards
- Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries The Ron Clark Story (2007) - Nominated
- Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series]] [[Friends (1999-2004) - Nominated for all 6 years (Whole cast)
TV Guide Awards
- Editor's Choice Friends (2000) - Won (Whole cast along with Jane Sibbett and John Christopher Allen)
TV Land Awards
Teen Choice Awards
- Choice TV Actor - Comedy Friends (2004)
Matthew Perry's real life jokes were put in the scripts of Friends