Matthew Perry may not be the most successful Friends alum today, but he definitely played one of the most iconic characters in the sitcom — the ever-sarcastic, lovable loser, Chandler Bing. Without Perry’s comedic genius in the show, Friends probably won’t be as funny and loved as it is now, and Jennifer Aniston‘s post-TV career wouldn’t be as grand (we kid, she’d most definitely still be a star).
Because Matthew played the character so well, it is almost unimaginable, especially to us die-hard Friends fans, to see Chandler being played by another actor. Surprisingly, that was almost the case when Matthew Perry thought of ditching his Friends audition for another TV commitment.
In a recent interview with Seth Meyers, Matthew Perry revealed that he almost didn’t become Chandler Bing on Friends because he was already previously tied with auditioning for a pilot episode of a bizarre TV show called LAX 2194.
The show, which Matthew Perry himself described as the “worst thing we’ve seen in our lives,” was trying to snag the then-budding actor for a role playing a baggage handler at the Los Angeles Airport…in the year 2194. Could it BE any more weirder?
Just by basing it on Perry’s rough description of the script, you could already sense that the show was all kinds of wrong. According to Matthew, little people were hired to play as aliens, and to this, People Magazine commented, “You’d think that, even in 1994, casting little people to play aliens would raise a red flag prior to the pilot stage, but you’d be wrong.”
Thankfully, the script for what was then called Friends Like Us came just at the right moment, giving Perry the option to opt out of whatever alien disaster LAX 2194 would have been. Today, he’s known as the actor who played the Chandler Bing, one of television’s most well-written characters. If he didn’t choose the better project, he’d probably be remembered (if at all) as the guy who played the bag handler at that lame, alien show.
Since the show’s end in 2004, Matthew’s been sparsely involved with film projects. His most recent film was in 2009, when he played the adult version of Zac Efron’s character on the comedy movie 17 Again.
Apparently, Perry’s passion remains with TV, having written and led numerous shows like Mr. Sunshine and Go On. Unfortunately, both shows were cancelled after just one season. Despite this, Matthew Perry’s ties with television remain strong, especially now that he and Thomas Lennon are reviving a boob tube classic, The Odd Couple.
UPDATE: For those interested, we did a little digging and it turns out, Ryan Stiles of Whose Line Is It Anyway actually got to play the lead role for LAX 2194 alongside Kelly Hu. Here’s the unsold pilot of the show.
[Image from NBC/YouTube]