Friends Reunion director Ben Winston defends Matthew Perry after fans worry about slurred speech


Another major Friends figure has stepped in to vouch for Matthew Perry after fans noticed that he seemed to be slurring his speech during the show’s reunion episode.

Ben Winston, who directed the reunion, had nothing but kind things to say about the the 51-year-old comic actor.

‘He was great,’ he said of Matthew during an appearance on The Hollywood Reporter‘s TV’s Top 5 podcast, released Saturday. 

Nothing to see here: Ben Winston, director of the Friends reunion, defended star Matthew Perry, 51, against fan worries that his speech was slurred during the special on The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top 5 podcast on Saturday; still from the Friends reunion

Ben, who is also a television producer, seemed to attribute the worried chatter among friends to a desire to be nasty.

‘People can sometimes just be unkind,’ he continued. ‘I wish they weren’t.’

Whatever issues Matthew may have been dealing with, it didn’t affect the director’s experience on the special.

‘I loved working with him. He’s a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show,’ he gushed. ‘I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this.’

Thoughtless:'People can sometimes just be unkind,' said Ben, who's also a TV producer. 'I wish they weren’t'; pictured in January 2020 at the Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica

Thoughtless:’People can sometimes just be unkind,’ said Ben, who’s also a TV producer. ‘I wish they weren’t’; pictured in January 2020 at the Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica

It was a pleasure: 'I loved working with him. He’s a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show,' he gushed about Matthew. 'I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this'

It was a pleasure: ‘I loved working with him. He’s a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show,’ he gushed about Matthew. ‘I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this’ 

Ben also revealed that this would likely be the last time fans would see Matthew and the rest of the Friends cast assembled.

Asked about the possibility of a future scripted movie or special, he said, ‘Absolutely, categorically never.’

He quoted co-creator Marta Kauffman to explain why the Friends gang would never do another scripted event. 

‘Marta always says, “This show is about when you’re friends or you’re family. And as soon as you have your own family, it’s not about that anymore. It’s a different show.” And they don’t want to make a different show,’ he explained. 

‘And we wouldn’t want to see them making that different show. And they all love the happy endings their characters got. The finale gave us what we wanted to.’

He added, ‘I hope that the six characters taking part in this show that we’ve created, paying tribute to something that was such a big part of all of our lives and somehow still is, is actually what we wanted, even if it isn’t necessarily what we thought we want.’

That's all, folks! The director (R) claimed the cast would never do a scripted movie or special, though he left the door open for a later reunion; seen in March 2021 at the Grammy Awards

That’s all, folks! The director (R) claimed the cast would never do a scripted movie or special, though he left the door open for a later reunion; seen in March 2021 at the Grammy Awards

Kevin S. Bright, an original executive producer on Friends, also shared positive words about Matthew’s presence at the reunion in an earlier Hollywood Reporter interview.  

He said he spoke to the actor during the taping and reported that ‘[Matthew] seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward.’

Kevin, who himself was also featured prominently on the HBO Max special, said: ‘I talked to him. It was great seeing him again.’ 

There's Kevin: But Kevin told The Hollywood Reporter they spoke at the reunion and 'He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward

At the special: Friends executive producer Kevin S. Bright also held forth about seeing Matthew Perry at the taping of the new reunion special and had positive words

‘And what people say is what people say. I don’t have any to say about that, except it was great to see him,’ he added.

Kevin, who also directed multiple episodes of Friends during its run, said: ‘And I think he’s very funny on the show. But yes, I think he’s OK.’

When Matthew appeared in the promotional interviews for the special some fans thought that at one point he was slurring his speech, pronouncing an ‘s’ as a ‘sh.’

Good news: He told The Hollywood Reporter that he spoke to Matthew at the reunion and 'He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward'

Good news: He told The Hollywood Reporter that he spoke to Matthew at the reunion and ‘He seems stronger and better since the last time I saw him, and excited about going forward’

He also appeared somewhat downcast during People‘s inside look at the special, with fans taking to social media to express their sympathy.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Just saw People interview and can’t believe how Matthew Perry looks like… seriously it breaks my heart.’ 

Another shared: ‘It pains me to see Matthew Perry like this, he just seems off, gazing at the void, speaking slowly.’

‘Hate to say it, but I’m sad and scared like hell for Matthew Perry,’ wrote a third. ‘D*mn, Matthew Perry in those PEOPLE Friends interviews.’

As seen in the People interview: After promo interviews dropped earlier this month for the reunion show fans began expressing worries online regarding Matthew's health

As seen in the People interview: After promo interviews dropped earlier this month for the reunion show fans began expressing worries online regarding Matthew’s health 

Matthew has been open about his past addictions and once told the BBC he cannot ‘remember three years of’ shooting Friends, but has since gotten sober.

He became hooked on Vicodin after a jet-skiing accident in 1997 and has told People his habit became ‘out of control and very unhealthy’ afterwards.

This past December his ex Kayti Edwards alleged in The Sun that when he was in the depths of his addiction he would take 80 Vicodin in one day.

'But yes, I think he's OK': Kevin, who also directed multiple episodes of Friends during its run, said: 'And I think he’s very funny on the show'

‘But yes, I think he’s OK’: Kevin, who also directed multiple episodes of Friends during its run, said: ‘And I think he’s very funny on the show’

The reunion special aired this Thursday and was controversially hosted by James Corden whose late-night executive producer Ben Winston was directing.

All six of the cast – Matthew, Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc – got together for the reunion.

They reminisced about old times, met up with old guest stars and even revisited their old sets and table-read some old scenes from the program. 

Spot him: Kevin (fourth from right) is pictured in 2000 at the 150th episode celebration of Friends with the cast and the creators Marta Kauffman and David Cran

Spot him: Kevin (fourth from right) is pictured in 2000 at the 150th episode celebration of Friends with the cast and the creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane



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