Craig Bierko Matthew Perry Friendship

The world knew and loved Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing on the iconic TV show “Friends.” However, there was a time when someone else was being considered for the role that made Perry a household name, and that someone was his close friend, actor Craig Bierko. Their friendship had its highs and lows, all tied to the audition that changed both of their lives.

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Perry and Bierko’s paths crossed in 1990 on the set of the sitcom “Sydney,” a short-lived series that ran for just one season. Despite the show’s brevity, their friendship endured beyond its cancellation. Perry, in his autobiography “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” described Bierko as having “by far the fastest comic mind I have ever seen.” They, along with Hank Azaria and David Pressman, formed what Perry called their own “mini-Rat Pack” in the world of acting.

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However, the success of “Friends” strained their friendship. It all began with a pivotal decision that Bierko had to make. He turned to Perry and Hank Azaria for advice on choosing between two shows: “Best Friends” and “Friends Like Us” (the original title for “Friends”). Perry and Azaria both recommended “Friends Like Us,” where Bierko would be part of an ensemble cast. Perry went even further, assisting Bierko with the audition, as confirmed by Marta Kauffman, co-creator of “Friends.”

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When “Friends” became a cultural phenomenon, Bierko’s show, “Best Friends,” didn’t get picked up. Stricken by the success of “Friends,” Bierko stopped talking to Perry for the first two years of the show. It wasn’t until he reached out and confessed that the friendship had deteriorated because of Perry’s success. Bierko told Perry, “I could not handle that you got rich and famous doing a role that I turned down.” Perry offered reassurance that fame doesn’t fix everything, even though it can change one’s life forever.

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