Matthew Perry was exploring the possibility of a biopic about himself before his death — and he wanted his former 17 Again co-star Zac Efron to star as a younger version of himself.
According to Athenna Crosby, who dined with Matthew just one day before his tragic death at age 54, the Friends star ‘wanted to make a movie about his life and have a biopic made.’
The entertainment reporter and actress told People that Matthew ‘wanted Zac Efron, who’s played him already to play him again because he said he did such a good job.’
The revelation about Perry’s hopes for a film about his life come just days after he was found dead in his hot tub by his assistant.
Matthew starred in the 2009 comedy 17 Again as Mike O’Donnell, a 37-year-old man on the verge of divorce who regrets throwing away his chance to have a successful career as a basketball star in order to marry his pregnant girlfriend and future wife.
Dashed hopes: Matthew Perry, who was found dead in his hot tub at age 54 on October 28, reportedly wanted to make a biopic about himself prior to his death with Zac Efron playing him; seen in 2017
Costars: Athenna Crosby, who dined with Perry a day before his death, told People that Matthew ‘wanted Zac Efron, who’s played him already to play him again because he said he did such a good job.’ Efron played Perry’s younger character in 2009’s 17 Again (pictured)
But after an encounter with a mysterious janitor on a bridge, he finds himself transformed into his 17-year-old self (now played by Zac Efron).
After he enrolls in high school again under a fake name and resolves to redo his life for a better outcome, he realizes that he has the ability to help his two teenage children navigate their difficult personal lives at school, which also brings him closer to his estranged wife (Leslie Mann).
The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, but audiences were big fans of Matthew and Zac’s performances, and the film became a box office hit with a gross of $139.5 million against a $40 million budget, according to The Numbers.
At the time, Efron was hot off the success of the third High School Musical film and his critically acclaimed performance in Me And Orson Welles.
Perry marked the height of his post-Friends career with the film, which was tragically his final film role. In subsequent years he appeared exclusively on television, either as a series star or a guest.
He had intended to make his long-awaited return to the silver screen with a role in Adam McKay’s satirical comedy Don’t Look Up, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill, Meryl Streep and many other A-listers, but he was forced to drop out after already filming some of his scenes.
Perry later revealed in his memoir — Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing — that he had still been in the throes of addiction while filming his scenes, and he later traveled to a rehab facility in Switzerland.
While there, he lied about suffering pain in order to get his doctors to prescribe him opiates. However, when the alleged pain wouldn’t go away, his doctor recommended having a device surgically implanted in his back to help with the mostly non-existent pain.
Sad sack: Perry starred as a washed-up 37-year-old who regrets his life choices and lost chance at being a basketball star, as well as his poor relationship with his children and his failed marriage
Behind the scenes: But a magical encounter turns him back into his 17-year-old self (played by Efron), and he resolves to help his troubled children and his estranged wife now that they don’t know his true identity
The 2009 hit was the high point of Perry’s post-Friends career, and he never appeared in another film for the rest of his life.
What could have been: Perry filmed scenes for Don’t Look Up but was left out of the film after his heart stopped during surgery. He was revived after five minutes of CPR, which broke eight of his ribs; seen in November 2022 in West Hollywood
But Perry stayed up taking hydrocodone the night before his surgery, so when he was administered propofol, the drugs interacted and caused his heart to stop — for several minutes.
‘I was given the shot at 11:00 a.m.,’ he wrote. ‘I woke up eleven hours later in a different hospital. Apparently, the propofol had stopped my heart. For five minutes. It wasn’t a heart attack — I didn’t flatline — but nothing had been beating. 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?’ he pondered with morbid humor.
Perry added that the life-saving CPR also broke eight of his ribs.