EXCLUSIVE: How Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston’s love for each other on

It was the romance that almost was.

But the couple who loved each other so much knew that if ever they tumbled into bed together it would spoil everything.

That may sound like a storyline from Friends but it wasn’t. It actually played out offscreen.

Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston were that couple. And just as Chandler and Rachel were never lovers despite both having plenty of other partners, nor were the actors who played them.

But now, following Perry’s tragic weekend death aged just 54, Aniston is left wondering what might have been had she fallen for him.

‘Nobody shed more tears for Matthew during the darkest points of his struggles with addiction than Jennifer,’ one close friend of the actress told DailyMail.com.

Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston had remained close friends years after Friends ended and up until his death last weekend

The cast of the hit show got together for their long-awaited reunion in 2021 ¿ 17 years after the series ended

Perry was consoled by his co-star during the tearful reunion with the cast
‘There was speculation at the time of the 2021 Friends reunion that Matthew wouldn’t be a part of it because his demons had gotten the better of him. But Jennifer absolutely wouldn’t have done it without him.

‘He put in the work and made it a success even though he seemed frail.

‘But Jennifer genuinely thought his worst days were behind him. So his death just two years later has come as a bitter body blow to her.

‘It doesn’t matter whether he died as a result of a freak accident or whether it was directly connected to his drug issues, this was a day that Jennifer has dreaded coming for 20 years,’ added the friend.

‘She always wanted to help Matthew any way she could – that was a constant for her.’

Perry died last Saturday after cutting short a game of pickleball. He was found underwater in the hot tub at his home in Pacific Palisades, California.

The cause of death has been deferred while waiting for toxicology reports which typically take six to eight weeks. Police say they found prescription pills at his house but no illegal drugs.

Aniston and Perry – born just six months apart – were the youngest of the six Friends and as such stuck up an immediate camaraderie when the show first started shooting in 1994.

He wrote in his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing that they had first met three years before Friends started and he tried to date her but she turned him down.

Aniston and Perry's bond never went beyond friendship, with insiders describing it as 'a typical brother-sister type relationship where they really watched out for each other'

The deep love and closeness between the pair was evident over the years, though the two never took a shot at romance

Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston

A clip of Jennifer breaking down in tears as she discussed the 'idea of losing' her co-star and friend, Matthew, due to addiction has resurfaced ¿ two days after the actor was found dead
‘I was immediately taken by her (how could I not be?) and liked her, and I got the sense she was intrigued too – maybe it was going to be something,’ he wrote.

When he landed the Friends role, Jennifer was the first person he called, but he soon realized he had made a mistake.

‘Bad idea,’ he wrote. ‘I could feel ice forming through the phone.

‘Looking back, it was clear that this made her think I liked her too much or in the wrong kind of way.

‘I only compounded the error by then asking her out,’ he continued. ‘She declined (which made it very difficult to actually go out with her) but said that she’d love to be friends with me, and I compounded the compound by blurting, ‘We can’t be friends!’

But despite making that bad first impression he said things got much better once they showed up on set for the biggest hit sitcom of the 1990s.

‘Fortunately, even though I was still attracted to her and thought she was so great, that first day we were able to sail right past the past and focus on the fact that we had both gotten the best job Hollywood had to offer.’

And that closeness continued once the show went off the air 10 years later.

‘Right up until Matthew’s first extended stay in rehab around 2001, Jen and he partied and drank and just blew off steam together,’ said Aniston’s friend.

‘I think they were reluctant to take it further for fear it would impact their close friendship.

Aniston and Perry ¿ born just six months apart ¿ were the youngest of the six Friends. They walked the red carpet hand-in-hand at the 1995 Emmys

Heartbroken Friends fans have flooded the internet with tributes to Matthew Perry 's close bond with co-star Jennifer Aniston following his untimely death at the weekend

Just as Chandler and Rachel were never lovers despite both having plenty of other partners, neither were the actors who played them
‘So it was a typical brother-sister type relationship where they really watched out for each other.’

But once Perry’s addictions kicked in it was clear to Jennifer that she did not want to enable him.

Her parties, especially before Brad Pitt left her for Angelina Jolie, involved beer and wine and she knew that was not the type of event an alcoholic should be attending.

‘But she was always checking in on him. She had a direct line to him that the other Friends cast simply didn’t have.

In his 2022 memoir, Perry admitted he harbored a huge crush on his co-star and even asked her out on a date when Friends first started filming in 1994
‘She was the one who would update the rest of the group on what Matt told her about his serious health problems during the 2010s.’

Jennifer broke down in tears during a 2004 interview with Diane Sawyer. ‘We didn’t know,’ she said.

‘We weren’t equipped to deal with it and the idea of losing him…’. she said before trailing off.

And in a 2022 interview while promoting his book – again with Sawyer – Perry said about Aniston: ‘She was the one that reached out the most,

‘You know, I’m really grateful to her for that.’

When they moved in their different directions – Aniston becoming an international sensation, Perry falling into addiction – Jennifer ‘kind of replaced him’ with Jason Bateman, the friend said.

‘Jason has a very similar vibe to Matthew,’ he added. ‘But without all the baggage of a chronic drug problem.

‘However, she would drop everything to catch up with Matthew, even though he didn’t want to be a burden.

‘He carried a lot more on his shoulders than he had to, and that broke Jen’s heart,’ the friend said.

‘She would have done anything for that guy, and their friendship had matured into something really enduring and respectful. ‘She always wanted to spend more time with Matthew, not less, no matter what he was going through.’

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