Matthew Perry on the Legacy of ‘Friends’ and the “Valuable Lesson” He Learned on His Cancelled Series ‘Mr. Sunshine’

It isn’t easy to follow up starring in one of the most successful and beloved television sitcoms of all time.  We’ve all heard about the “Seinfeld Curse” (though Julia Louis-Dreyfus seems to be handling herself well these days), but most of the cast of Friends have had trouble finding a project that had a fraction of the success of the “Must See TV” hit NBC sitcom. 

In particular, Matthew Perry has had several ups and downs, both personally and professionally, since Friends ended in 2004.  With his new comedy, Go On, set to debut on a familiar network (NBC), Perry talks to the Los Angeles Times about his new series and problems with his previous one.

Perry admits that the legacy of Friends is both a wonderful blessing and a source of frustration creatively.  He points out, “I don’t need to be reminded that I was on Friends,” Perry says, then jokes about his publicized issues with substance abuse by adding, “I remember — some of it, anyway.  No, it’s fine that it follows me. I get it.” He also references a quirk that his character, Chandler, on the hit series had: loudly emphasizing the word “be.”  He says, “But I can do other things, and I like the challenge of proving to people that my talent extends beyond putting emphasis on ‘be’.”

This isn’t Perry’s first attempt at doing a post-Friends comedy television show.  Perry created, starred, wrote and was executive producer  of Mr. Sunshine, a 2011 midseason replacement show on ABC that was canceled after nine episodes aired.  But taking on so many aspects of the production took its toll on Perry.  He reveals, “I was worn out.  I learned a valuable lesson doing Mr. Sunshine, which is that I didn’t want to be in charge because it’s too much. Being in charge and acting in every scene was just too difficult. It’s like eating dinner in a moving golf cart every night. It could never be a stagnant golf cart, it had to be moving somewhere at all times.”

Go On airs Tuesday nights on NBC.  You can check out the first episode on NBC.com here.

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