Chandler has left us. When I first heard this news, it was shocking and it was hard for me to believe it. I read the dozen-word article again and again, and finally came to terms with it: Matthew, the actor who portrayed Chandler, has passed away at the young age of 54.
What follows is a profound sense of unreality. How could this be? We all knew that Matthew had a troubled life, but just a year ago, he published a 500-page memoir where he openly shared all his psychological and physical struggles. In his early 50s, after a lifetime of inner turmoil, he had finally begun to piece his life together from the another perspective. This is a good sign, isn’t it? After all, every fresh beginning begins with a serene reflection of one's inner self.
Starting from last year, everything is improving. Now, it appears that it all was an illusion.
Sometimes, life can be quite cruel. Whatever the creators of "Friends" gave Chandler in the show, life didn’t extend the same to Matthew.
What made "Friends" so beloved was the seamless chemistry among the six actors, which was most evident in the relationship between Chandler and Matthew.
In the series, Chandler had a troubled childhood. His parents divorced early; his mother was a promiscuous writer of erotic novels, and his father went through a gender transition. As he grew older, Chandler struggled with an intense fear of intimacy, using humor and sarcasm to hide his deep-seated insecurities and fears.
Before his relationship with Monica, Chandler had an on-again, off-again girlfriend, Janice, who provided much of the comic relief in the show. Janice had no boundaries, and her boisterous laughter always made Chandler uncomfortable. However, he couldn't resist her because Janice offered something he craved: unconditional acceptance of his peculiar quirks, much like a nurturing mother.
Chandler was known for his humor, generosity, and unwavering devotion to his friends, especially Joey. However, his inability to maintain a healthy intimate relationship stemmed from his belief that he didn't deserve a stable partner, leading to constant self-doubt.
Monica, on the other hand, excelled in making things perfect once she set her mind to it. In one memorable argument, Chandler thought their relationship was over, but Monica quickly reconciled and resolved the issue. Chandler was astonished because what he saw as a fatal flaw Monica saw as something that could be fixed.
Their love story is essentially a narrative of redemption, where one wounded soul can rescue another. It embodies an extreme idealism that, when applied in real life, frequently results in heartbreak.
Monica was like a gift from the show’s writers bestowed upon Chandler. She was once an overweight teenager, and her insecurities during her teenager years gave her the ability to empathize with those who felt vulnerable. The Geller family's strong familial bonds and determination to never back down gave her the confidence to be a constant source of support in romantic relationships.
No matter how much Chandler wanted to escape or feared the future, Monica would firmly hold his hand and provide warmth and love. Monica was an angel, but such angels are barely in existence in real life.
Matthew shared a similar troubled childhood with Chandler. His parents divorced when he was just one year old, and his father became an actor in the United States, while his mother remarried and had two more children. He couldn't shake the feeling of abandonment by his biological father, and, as a result, he turned to alcohol and drugs.
Matthew was incredibly charming when he was younger, and he was a fan favorite as Chandler on the show. Handsome, kind, with a stable and well-paying job and a terrific sense of humor, he seemed almost identical to Chandler, so even Hollywood A-lister Julia Roberts fell for him during that time. The two shared a sweet romance and spent hours talking on the phone. Julia even insisted on making a guest appearance on "Friends" so she could act alongside Matthew.
During the good times, it seemed the world was determined to make them a couple. However, when things turned sour, it felt like a quick avalanche, causing everything to fall apart in an instant. Matthew suffered a skiing accident, leading him down a path of drug addiction. He struggled through multiple cycles of sobriety and relapse, occasionally even forgetting his lines in the show.
But ultimately, his friends stood by him and saved him.
Their relationships transitioned from intimacy to occasional discord, to feeling like strangers. However, when they reunited, they could set aside their differences and laugh together, their bond stronger than ever. Even Matthew's departure, from a rational perspective, wasn't all that surprising.
We've seen many similar real-life stories in Hollywood; heartbreaking tales aren't in short supply. We should have already grown accustomed to the reality of life. But after witnessing the beauty of their lives on screen, the real world appears unbearable. The only comforting aspect of today's news is that, according to the police description, Matthew's departure was peaceful, free from drugs or trauma.
Fortunately, he left his autobiography, giving an account of his life. I haven't read the book yet, but I've heard it includes moments of prolonged pain, darkness, and recovery, as well as extremely romantic passages. For example, on New Year's Eve in 1996, Matthew and Julia hopped into a blue car, driving through falling snowflakes to reach the mountaintop. At dawn, they gazed at distant Canada, a place from Matthew's childhood.
One thing is certain: it must have been the love and kindness bestowed upon him by friends and loved ones that propelled Matthew to reach the pinnacle of his own life. Even if that love resembling sweet candies quickly turned sour, he cherished them dearly. In the end, when he unwrapped them, the sweetness endured.
In a reunion special in 2021, Matthew appeared tired and out of place amidst the nostalgia. He spoke very little, but when he did, you knew he was speaking the truth. He said that whenever two of the six of them met, they'd spend the entire evening together, regardless of their previous companions. They may no longer be as close as once, but their past closeness is deeply ingrained in them.
So, he fought through it all and wrote about his past with calmness. May Matthew enjoy this peace in heaven. Everyone who loved him and whom he loved will remember him.