Matthew Perry was looking forward to the future. “He was in a good state of mind,” pal Athenna Crosby, who had lunch with the actor at the Hotel Bel-Air on October 27, tells In Touch. “He said he was losing weight and getting in shape. He was talking about how he had struggles but had turned it all around and was excited to have a second act.”

Sadly, he will never get that second act: The next day, the beloved Friends star was found dead in his hot tub at 54, leaving a legion of fans reeling. And even though Matthew, who struggled with severe drug and alcohol addiction his entire adult life, said just a year ago that if he died “it would shock people but it wouldn’t surprise anybody,” his loved ones have been unpacking his tragic final hours in a desperate search for answers. “The saddest thing of all,” says a source, “is that people are saying Matthew could have been saved.”

Last Moments

His day was spent like many others lately. Matthew had developed “a healthy addiction” to pickleball, says his coach, Matt Manasse, adding that the actor hit the courts four to five days a week. On October 28, he played with his regular partner. “She said he had been fatigued [that day] and over the past week,” pal Billy Bush wrote on Instagram. “A little more than usual. He played for one hour then went home.” 

At around 4 p.m., his assistant found him unconscious in the hot tub and called 911. Help arrived to his Pacific Palisades home within minutes. “A bystander had brought [Matthew’s] head above the water and gotten him to the edge, then firefighters removed him from the water,” L.A. Fire Department spokesperson Nicholas Prange said of the apparent drowning. “A rapid medical assessment, sadly, revealed the man was deceased prior to first responder arrival.” At press time, Matthew’s cause of death remains undetermined pending toxicology reports, but officials said no illicit drugs were found in his home. Reportedly the longtime smoker had only a prescription drug to treat his COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), along with antianxiety and antidepression pills. “Those close to him can’t help but wonder just what would have happened if he’d just talked to a doctor about his fatigue,” says the source, “or if his assistant had arrived a few minutes earlier.”

Or if he’d never gotten in the hot tub. In his last Instagram shot, posted on October 23, he’s enjoying a soak alone. “Oh, so warm water swirling around makes you feel good?” Matthew wrote in his heartbreaking final message to fans. (Days earlier, he also wrote to fans, “Sleep well everybody, I’ve got the city tonight — Mattman.”) But doctors warn against using a hot tub alone or for more than 10 minutes and urge those with heart conditions and other medical issues to exercise caution.

Lifelong Battle

Matthew was open about his struggles with addiction, and once revealed that co-star Jennifer Aniston was the first to confront him about his drinking problem at the height of their Friends fame.

Matthew began abusing opioids following a 1997 jet ski accident, and at his lowest point, he was taking 55 Vicodin pills a day and weighed 128 pounds. He even confessed he was “high as a kite” when he proposed to his ex Molly Hurwitz in 2020. They split the next year, and after the literary agent, 32, said on Instagram following his death that he “caused pain like I’d never known,” she was slammed as a “con artist” in a post by Matthew’s friend Rome Shadanloo.

But there’s no denying his disease was destructive to his body. Not only did he claim to have shelled out “upwards of $7 million” on rehab — 15 stints in total — but he underwent 14 surgeries related to his addiction. In 2018, he was in a coma for two weeks after his colon burst due to his excessive drug use, and he was given a two percent chance of survival. “I had realized that my greatest fear had come true, which is that I did this to myself,” he wrote in his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing. Just two years after that near-death experience, he took hydrocodone before being treated with propofol, and his heart stopped for five minutes. “With all of those issues, he shouldn’t have been in that hot tub alone,” says the source. “It’s heartbreaking that after surviving so much and finally getting sober, he’d be lost in such a tragic accident.”

The one comfort was the success of his memoir. “He was so proud of that book,” says the source. “He revealed the ugly truth about his addiction to encourage others to get sober.” Matthew himself said he hoped the cautionary tale — not his iconic role on Friends — would be his legacy. “I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker, and his paramount thing is that he wants to help people,” he shared in 2022. “That’s what I want.”

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