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‘All Matthew Perry knew was how to cause pain and play the victim’: Not content with being cruel and physically abusive to women in his life, how the drug-addled Friends star turned to dating apps to manipulate 21-year-old females before he died

Lunchtime at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, the day before he died in October last year, and Friends star Matthew Perry was dining with model and former beauty queen Athenna Crosby.

Her take on how he seemed, just a day before he was found face down in his Jacuzzi with the same amount of ketamine in his system as a hospital patient under general anaesthetic? ‘He was talking about how excited he was to have a second act. He was in a positive place and being extra healthy,’ she said.

One can’t help but wonder how Crosby could have believed this. The 25-year-old brunette, who had known Perry for a matter of weeks, later shared on her Instagram page a dedication he had written to her on the title page of his book.

It ran, in a wobbly hand, as follows: ‘A NumBer Oone New YorK Times Best Seller for the NumBer 1 Girl.’

Not what you might expect from a man in control of his faculties — although that clearly wasn’t deterring him from a little flirtation.

Matthew Perry, top left, pictured with his Friends co-stars Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Anniston and Lisa Kudrow

Perry's two-day bender was perhaps fuelled by heartbreak as his troubled romance with fiancée Molly Hurwitz had recently disintegrated

Perry’s two-day bender was perhaps fuelled by heartbreak as his troubled romance with fiancée Molly Hurwitz had recently disintegrated 

The Friends actor was adored by many and had made millions of people laugh but was himself alone and filled with sadness

The Friends actor was adored by many and had made millions of people laugh but was himself alone and filled with sadness

Indeed, when you look back on the sad final months of Perry’s life, it seems that only the people who didn’t know him well accepted his account that he was clean — or people who were for some reason choosing to ignore the increasingly obvious signs.

For behind the scenes, rumbles of concern for Perry had, for some time, seemingly been expressed among those who knew him best.

Take Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of Friends. After his death, she spoke of her deep sadness, but also said that when he turned up to film the hugely hyped Friends reunion in April 2021, it was evident something was awry, in a way that suggested a drug relapse.

‘I was concerned about him, knowing that he’d been through everything he’d been through,’ she said. ‘Every time he had surgery, they’re giving him opioids for pain and the cycle starts over again,’ she said.

His slurring voice, slow reactions and puffy face on that show — a contrast to his five well-preserved, beautifully dressed peers — were explained away by sources as being the result of ‘emergency dental surgery’.

Perry, his PR spinners said, couldn’t let the show down by not showing up. It was simply a question of unfortunate timing.

A source said: ‘Obviously no one wants to film after a procedure, but it happened. Matthew has told those around him that he is sober, and there is no need to worry.’

The truth was very different, as one of his associates revealed to me this week: in fact, in the run-up to the TV reunion Perry had been on a two-day bender. They suggest it was perhaps fuelled by heartbreak as his troubled romance with fiancée Molly Hurwitz had recently disintegrated.

Indeed, as I revealed this week, Perry was once so enraged with Hurwitz that he physically assaulted her and ‘threw a coffee table’ at her as their relationship imploded in early 2021.

Yet again, the actor who had made millions laugh and was adored by so many was alone and filled with sadness. ‘I’m lonely but there’s a couple of people on the payroll to keep me safe,’ he told an interviewer.

Perry's one-time sober coach Morgan Moses was another woman physically assaulted by him but who, he said in his book, saved his life many times

Perry’s one-time sober coach Morgan Moses was another woman physically assaulted by him but who, he said in his book, saved his life many times

It is suggested that Perry sometimes resented his Friends co-stars for not having to face the same battles he did

It is suggested that Perry sometimes resented his Friends co-stars for not having to face the same battles he did

There are further signs his drug use extended far beyond this particular crisis. Fast forward 18 months on from the TV reunion, to when Perry was recording the audiobook for his memoir Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing.

In this he talked about his battle to gain sobriety and charted his medical odyssey, spending $9 million attempting to get clean.

Many who listened to the actor talking about having finally overcome his addictions were alarmed. Once more there were slurs and elisions throughout. Even on his press tour for the book he appeared rambling, shambling . . . and high.

A close friend of his told me recently that he never stopped fighting his battles. ‘Matthew was never able to maintain any type of long term sobriety so everything you have read in the book is wrong. He was not sober and was not able to maintain it.

‘He would have bouts of getting it together and being OK, but they would be followed by moments of weakness and of using [drugs].’

‘He had demons like I have never seen. He tortured himself. He was unable to tap into that place of happiness that the rest of us are able to experience.’

The friend added: ‘There wasn’t any malice or intended deception in what he was doing [with the book]. From his perspective what he was doing in his mind was writing about what he was hoping to be the situation as if he was already there. He was writing the script he wanted.’

Yet Perry’s addiction certainly caused him to behave in ways that were troubling at best, malign at worst. As well as being cruel and physically abusive to women in his life, he consistently manipulated other young females he had approached on online dating apps in order to get his hands on the drugs he so desperately desired.

Indeed, Athenna Crosby was in some ways typical of the young women with whom Perry would try to match on the dating app Raya (although it is not known how he and Crosby met). They were all twenty-somethings, as that was the age range he had chosen on the app.

Sources close to the 54-year-old actor say he would then flirt with possible matches over FaceTime, often playing ‘20 Questions’.

Perry¿s final social media post, made just five days before his reported death was an image of the actor in a Jacuzzi

Perry’s final social media post, made just five days before his reported death was an image of the actor in a Jacuzzi

Perry stunned fans with his slurred speech in the Friends reunion

Perry stunned fans with his slurred speech in the Friends reunion

Typically, he would then ask the girls to come over to his home in Pacific Palisades and, at some point, would ask if they could score some drugs for him.

There is no suggestion Crosby ever supplied Perry with drugs.

A friend told me: ‘He would meet girls on dating apps and have them come over. There was a slew of 21- to 25-year-olds who he would meet on Raya. They would bring drugs with them. It was mostly OxyContin. He would also get illicit drugs from old girlfriends, there was a kind of network.’

In the final years he had a 24/7 nursing team and a live-in assistant, Kenny Iwamasa. But it still didn’t stop him getting drugs.

A source explains: ‘When nurses or companions are in someone’s home doing a detox or watching for sobriety they don’t have the same permissions as in an institution. They cannot frisk visitors for drugs.’

Perry had started out with an addiction to alcohol in the early days of Friends, which was tempered after co-star Jennifer Aniston told him that he had been drinking too much and added: ‘We can smell it.’

A jetski accident in 1997 then sparked an addiction to painkillers and within 18 months he was skeletally thin and taking 55 pills a day.

Perry himself admitted in his book that ‘by the end of season three [of Friends], I was spending most of my time figuring out how to get 55 Vicodin a day. I had to have 55 every day, otherwise I’d get so sick. It was a full-time job: making calls, seeing doctors, faking migraines, finding crooked nurses who would give me what I needed.’

The ‘reward’ for this tormented web of manipulation and lies turned out to be numerous rehabs, an exploded colon, two weeks in a coma and nine horrendous months with a colostomy bag.

In his final years I am told Perry would ‘burn’ through girlfriends in record time — maybe over a month or so — and then move onto the next person after using them for affirmation and often as a source of drugs, too.

A source told the magazine US Weekly: ‘Addicts are smart, and Matthew was brilliant. He would do the FaceTime thing and get to know them. Then it would be like, “Let’s hang out,” and he would say to come to his house. He wasn’t out in public anymore. That’s how he snuck things past people.’

The source added: ‘He was living locked up and not reaching out to people. That was his pattern when he used. He would cut himself off from everyone.’

Even those who dedicated themselves to his wellbeing were eventually rejected. Another woman physically assaulted by him was his one-time sober coach Morgan Moses, who, he said in his book, saved his life many times.

Yet she quit working for him in March 2022 after an ugly incident in which he shoved her into a wall and then threw her onto a bed. The row was over his continued abuse of prescription drugs.

He tried to make it up to Moses, his best friend for more than five years, but sources say she felt a line had been crossed and the mutual respect which underpinned their relationship was destroyed.

‘Morgan was devastated by what happened,’ a source told me. ‘She believes it was a panic response to a fear of being abandoned but it has been hugely distressing for her. She loved him and lost him twice over.’

Moses, 37, declined to comment on the allegations this week. Fascinatingly, some believe she fears fall-out from his well-connected group of Hollywood supporters if she does speak out.

Such was the apparent depth of Perry’s manipulation that, one source claimed to US Weekly, he told Moses after assaulting her: ‘If I wanted to hurt you, I would have.’

Perry was at times ‘verbally, emotionally and physically abusive’ says this same source. He ‘wasn’t a horrible human being but he was so warped in his addiction that he wasn’t himself.’

The source adds: ‘All he knew how to do was cause pain and play the victim. He put people on a ride from hell.’

That account is borne out by his former fiancee Molly Hurwitz, who reacted to his death, by first expressing love and sorrow but also writing: ‘While I loved him deeper than I could comprehend, he was complicated, and he caused pain like I’d never known.

‘No one in my adult life has had a more profound impact on me than Matthew Langford Perry. I have tremendous gratitude for that, for everything I learned from our relationship.’

For all her ‘gratitude’, sources tell me that Hurwitz also found Perry ultimately to be untrustworthy and manipulative. Hurwitz did not respond to requests for comment this week — and nor did representatives for Perry.

There may be other women whom he terrorised. US Weekly says it has spoken to an ex girlfriend of the actor who was in her early 20s at the time of their relationship, and who threatened to sue him in 2020 for emotional and psychological abuse.

It’s said he got her addicted to drugs, including oxycodone and painkillers, but the matter ended up being settled out of court with the young woman in question signing a non disclosure agreement. They had first met in rehab.

A source said: ‘The age difference of someone in their early 20s and someone in their late 40s and early 50s — there’s a power play in that. I think he took a lot of advantage of her.’

There are even claims one of his nurses quit the profession after a spell in his employ. ‘He was cruel . . . he had to pay for a lot of women to go to therapy. He left a lot of destruction,’ another source told US Weekly.

How different all that sounds to the Perry we fell in love with on screen — sarcastic, wise-cracking but always the charming Chandler Bing.

We know — because they have spoken about it — that his co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer tried to help when he descended into his various addictions.

Le Blanc confessed they had to wait for him to ‘bottom out’, while Kudrow said people would always ask her how Perry was doing, and she wouldn’t know how to reply.

It’s suggested he sometimes resented his co-stars for not having to face the same battles he did.

He had famously thought becoming famous would solve all his problems but in the end, the man who won the lottery of fame and fortune never managed to conquer either his addiction or the low self-esteem which seems to have driven him to seek oblivion.

He wrote in his memoir how he believed a fear of abandonment and his own psychological scars prevented him from finding happiness — even with one-time girlfriend Julia Roberts — or starting a family.

Long ago his friend Jennifer Aniston summed him up: ‘Matty’s one of the most sensitive people I’ve ever met. His feelings get hurt. He cares what people think. He even bruises easily.’

How sad that his legacy may now turn out to be how easily he bruised others too.