Late Friends actor Matthew Perry once pitched Don’t Look Up filmmaker Adam McKay on Mattman, a semi-autobiographical superhero film.
As family, friends, and fans continue to mourn the loss of Friends star Matthew Perry, more stories about the comedic actor have come to light. Six days before Perry was found unresponsive in a hot tub, the actor’s last public social media post sent a cryptic message across the information highway. On that evening, Perry wrote, “I’m Mattman,” which fans took as a nod to the actor’s obsession with the Caped Crusader. While conspiracy theorists attempt to crack the code of Perry’s mysterious message, The Hollywood Reporter thinks they’ve solved the Edward Nygma-like riddle.
The fact remains that Perry was something of a Batman obsessive. He spent $20 million on a 10,000-square-foot mansion to house a “bat cave” filled with Dark Knight memorabilia. Perry also titled the final chapter in his addiction memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, “Batman.” He even devised a nickname for himself as an homage to Bats, “Mattman” – or Matman, as he spells it in the book. Plotting a comeback into the limelight, Perry brought his ideas for a Mattman film project to Don’t Look Up filmmaker Adam McKay, who cast the actor as a smarmy cable news anchor in the apocalyptic comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jonah Hill. Ultimately, Perry’s role fell to the cutting room floor, but only after he approached McKay about his Mattman fantasy.
Casting director Francine Maisler brought Perry’s name to the table, and McKay was delighted to meet with him. Speaking about his anticipation to meet with Perry, McKay told THR the following:
“I knew he had some health issues. And so I met with him, and he was super cool. Francine and I had talked about the fact that, yeah, he’s famous for the Friends character, but he had done lots of movies and other shows, and he was always good in everything he did. He always popped in this really specific way,” said McKay.
“So I met with him and he was great. He described how he had had some sort of major surgery involving his lower intestine and almost had died, and it was really major stuff, but you could tell he had recovered. He was back, and I was super excited to do the movie with him,” McKay elaborates.
Sadly, when Perry arrived on set, McKay could tell he was still recovering from his recent ordeal. “His energy was low,” recalls McKay. “He looked not healthy. It was just the kind of thing where you’re like, ‘Are you all right?’ It was during COVID and it was before the vaccine, so it was already a very dicey shoot. I remember being a little worried — like, ‘Hey, did you take the COVID test?’ He was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m clean.’”
McKay loved the idea of Perry using Don’t Look Up as a stepping stone toward career recovery. If nothing else, the part could remind Perry of his power as a Hollywood player. While working on the film, Perry approached McKay about his Mattman film idea. When asked what the project was about, McKay says this was Perry’s pitch: “It’s about this guy,” Perry said enthusiastically. “You’d recognize him. His name is Matt and he’s very famous and about 50 years old. His life is a little bit of a mess. He’s lost. Out of the blue a distant relative dies and leaves him $2 billion — and he uses to become a superhero.”
Fascinated by the pitch and hypnotized by Perry’s passion, McKay workshopped the concept in his head. Perry said he was flexible on whether the project would become a film or series, but McKay had another idea.
“My idea was just to do a show about being this incredibly popular, well-known TV guy who’s dealing with addiction,” McKay says. “Because the world has changed. You could actually do that show now. Ten years ago, people would have said you’re crazy. But now people can be more upfront about their mental health issues, their addiction issues, and it’s kind of wonderful.”
“Why don’t we just do a show that’s a fictional version of what you’ve struggled with,” McKay offered as a counter-proposal. “The idea that everywhere you go, people yell your catchphrases a little bit of your past, the addiction, what it’s like, because everyone views you through this lens of this cheery, bright, multicolored show. And then, meanwhile, you’re a human being who’s dealing with real addiction, real pain. It could be an incredible show. It could be really funny. It could really affect people’s lives.”
Unfortunately, Perry wasn’t interested in McKay’s idea, and his part in Don’t Look Up fell apart after filming one scene. After completing the scene, McKay says the actor flew to a rehab facility in Switzerland, where he faked pain symptoms to obtain a prescription for 1,800 milligrams of OxyContin per day.
Sadly, Perry never got to bring his ideas for Mattman to the rest of the world. One can only imagine what such a bold project might have done to rekindle his career and confidence.