Friends is one of the most popular and beloved shows of all time — for many people, the iconic characters really do feel like friends. Which makes the recent passing of Matthew Perry, who died on Saturday at 54, so painful for fans around the world.

The sitcom’s cast members didn’t just have chemistry on screen; they enjoyed a close bond that lasted decades after the cameras stopped rolling. Now, the cast of Friends has broken their silence and released a statement on Perry’s death.

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“We are a family”

The five surviving main cast members — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer — released a joint statement to People Magazine today, two days after the sudden death of co-star Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing on the long-running hit.

“We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family,” their statement reads. “There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.”

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“In time we will say more, as and when we are able,” the statement continues. “For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world.”

It marks the first public statement of the Friends cast since Perry died on Saturday. He was 54. A cause of death has not been officially released, but the actor was reportedly found in his hot tub.

Perry had struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction throughout his career, but was sober in recent years. No illegal drugs were found on the scene, except prescription antidepressants and anxiety meds.

Playing the cool and sarcastic Chandler Bing on Friends made Perry one of the biggest stars in the world, but at the height of his success he was abusing drugs including Vicodin, Xanax and OxyContin, as well as alcohol addiction. “I should have been the toast of the town, but I was in a dark room meeting with nothing but drug dealers and completely alone,” he said in an interview with Diane Sawyer.

David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, California (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

He got candid about his struggles in a memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, released last year, and said his Friends co-stars helped him throughout his addiction battle, during and after the show’s run.

“They were understanding, and they were patient,” Perry said. “It’s like penguins. In nature, when one is sick or very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up and walk around until that penguin can walk on its own. And that’s kind of what the cast did for me.”

“It’s a hideous disease, and he has a tough version of it,” Lisa Kudrow told the New York Times last year. “I love Matthew a lot. We’re part of a family. I’m basically ending this with ‘I’ll be there for you,’ but it’s true. I’ll always be there for him.”

Matthew Perry. (photo by Newsmakers)

Tributes from “Friends” cast and creators

Many of Perry’s friends, colleagues and co-stars have paid tribute, including many involved with the beloved NBC sitcom that made him famous

Friends co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane released a statement, alongside executive producer Kevin Bright.

“We are shocked and deeply, deeply saddened by our beloved friend Matthew’s passing,” they wrote. “It still seems impossible. All we can say is that we feel blessed to have had him as part of our lives. He was a brilliant talent.”

Morgan Fairchild, who played Chandler’s mother on Friends, also paid tribute.

“I’m heartbroken about the untimely death of my ‘son’, Matthew Perry,” she wrote on Twitter. “The loss of such a brilliant young actor is a shock. I’m sending love & condolences to his friends & family, especially his dad, John Bennett Perry, who I worked with on Flamingo Road & Falcon Crest.”

Maggie Wheeler, who had a memorable role as Chandler’s girlfriend Janice, also expressed her condolences.

“What a loss. The world will miss you Matthew Perry,” she wrote on Instagram. “The joy you brought to so many in your too short lifetime will live on. I feel so very blessed by every creative moment we shared. ♥️”

Rest in peace to the late great Matthew Perry — he will be forever remembered for his iconic performance on Friends. We know he will live on through the friends and co-stars who loved him.

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