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Actor Who Played Janice On 'Friends' Opens Up About How It Felt To Read Matthew Perry's Memoir

Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice on the hit show for all 10 seasons, said Perry is 'very brave' for speaking about his experiences with addiction.

Maggie Wheeler; Matthew Perry
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood; Chris Polk/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Friends actress Maggie Wheeler shared her thoughts after reading Matthew Perry's memoir detailing his struggle with drug addiction during the show's heyday and afterward.

For all ten seasons of the hit TV series, Wheeler played Janice–the hopelessly devoted admirer of Perry's character Chandler Bing.

She told Page Six Perry's memoir Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing was "difficult" to digest due to:

“So many startling revelations about the ways Matthew has suffered over the years trying to wrangle his addictions.”

But she remained very proud of Perry for opening up about his troubled past.

Said Wheeler:

“I think he’s done a tremendous job, and he’s really survived the unthinkable."
"And I’m so proud of him, and I’m so happy he’s here, and I think it’s very brave that he’s written a book and he’s out talking about it, he’s really helping a lot of people.”

Wheeler also said Perry's work on Friends never suffered from his addictions.

His commitment to the character during “the process” of filming was at “100 percent, even when he was struggling.”

She added:

"He showed up for work even when he was in his darkest place, he showed up for work with all his humor and brilliance and talent.”
“There was never a day working on set with him where I felt insecure about how he was going to participate.”

In his book, Perry said he "nearly died" at 49 when his colon burst from opioid overuse and was told by doctors his rate of survival was only 2 percent.

He said at the time he experienced a "gastrointestinal perforation."

But Perry admitted he actually spent two weeks in a coma and five months in the hospital and had to use a colostomy bag for nine months.

The 53-year-old explained to People Magazine why now was the right time to release his book.

"I wanted to share when I was safe from going into the dark side of everything again."
"I had to wait until I was pretty safely sober—and away from the active disease of alcoholism and addiction—to write it all down."
"And the main thing was, I was pretty certain that it would help people."

When he was cast as Chandler, the then 24-year-old's addiction to alcohol had already taken hold.

He explained:

"I could handle it, kind of. But by the time I was 34, I was really entrenched in a lot of trouble."
"But there were years that I was sober during that time. Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through."
"And guess which season I got nominated for best actor? I was like, 'That should tell me something.'"

These days, the actor's signature wit remains intact.

With some levity, he told the magazine:

“I’m pretty healthy now. I’ve got to not go to the gym much more, because I don’t want to only be able to play superheroes."
"But no, I’m a pretty healthy guy right now.”

As a recurring character on the show, Wheeler appeared in at least one episode per season during its 10 season run from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004.

Her 19 appearances on Friends tied her with Christina Pickles for the third most frequent guest actor behind Elliott Gould's 2nd place with 20 episodes. James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther, led with 150 episodes.

After lending her voice to a number of animated projects post-Friends, Wheeler last appeared on the Disney Channel series Shake It Up as Dina's mother.

Looking back on her time on Friends, Wheeler expressed gratitude and said it's been “incredibly wonderful” to have been a part of the beloved show “that means so much to so many people.”

She added Friends:

“Keeps people calm and happy.”