Matthew died of an apparent drowning in his hot tub on Oct. 28, but his official cause of death is yet to be determined. An initial postmortem came back inconclusive, with further toxicology tests being carried out.
The star has always been incredibly open about his decades-long battle with addiction, but no drug paraphernalia or illegal substances were found in Matthew’s home when he died. The only drugs on the property were prescription medication, and TMZ has reported that fentanyl and meth have been formally ruled out.
And with Matthew’s passing being so unexpected, it’s understandable that his loved ones have been left all the more shocked and devastated by the news — with his former Friends castmates saying that they needed to take the time to “grieve and process” their “unfathomable loss” before speaking out.
In a joint statement that was issued two days after Matthew’s death, the fivesome said: “We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family. There is so much to say, but right now we’re going to take a moment to grieve and process this unfathomable loss.”
“In time we will say more, as and when we are able," they went on. "For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world."
And former Friends director James Burrows later revealed that the cast have been left “destroyed” by the news, adding that for them, it was like “a brother dying.”
“He was part of a family, and he was the first one to not be part of that family anymore,” James said during an appearance on NBC’s Today show. “I texted the girls the day we found out, and they were…they were destroyed. It’s a brother dying.”
And sources have now revealed that Jennifer is struggling tremendously with Matthew’s death, which has “completely knocked her off her feet.”
The insider added to Page Six that the situation is particularly tough for Jennifer because she is approaching the one-year anniversary of her beloved father’s death.
“Out of the remaining five, Jen and Courteney are reeling the most, and Jen is probably the one who is struggling most acutely,” they said. “It’s a second massive loss in less than a year, with the one-year anniversary of her dad’s death just around the corner.”
“She still hasn’t fully regained her footing from that, and now this has just completely knocked her off her feet,” the source went on. “She is trying to regroup and recover, but it’s been a completely devastating blow.”
And it’s perhaps unsurprising considering how close Jennifer and Matthew have been for several decades, with both stars opening up about their special bond over the years.
The two first met through mutual friends three years before they started working together on Friends, with Matthew revealing in his 2022 memoir that he instantly had a huge crush on her, but she let him down gently when he asked her out.
“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!’” he recalled in the book.
Matthew said that he still had the crush when they were both cast in the NBC sitcom in 1994, but it eventually wore off, and they instead developed an unbreakable bond.
In fact, Jennifer once confronted him on the set of Friends after his drinking habit had become apparent to the cast and crew. Matthew said that Jennifer had told him: “We know you’re drinking.”
“Imagine how scary a moment that was,” he added in the interview. “She was the one that reached out the most. You know, I’m really grateful to her for that.”
And in 2004, the year that Friends ended, Jennifer broke down in tears at the prospect of losing Matthew. Also in an interview with Diane Sawyer, Jennifer became emotional as she was asked what Matthew didn’t know about himself but needed to hear.
“That he’s alright,” she answered. “He struggled, and we didn’t know. We weren’t equipped to deal with it. Nobody had ever dealt with that.”
“And the idea of ever losing him…” she began, before trailing off.
Last year, Matthew revealed that he first started abusing alcohol when he was a teenager before moving on to prescription medicine and then illegal drugs.
This deeply affected his 10 years on Friends, and he said that he was unable to rewatch the episodes because he could tell by looking at himself which stage of his addiction he was in season by season.
“You can track the trajectory of my addiction if you gauge my weight from season to season — when I’m carrying weight, it’s alcohol; when I’m skinny, it’s pills. When I have a goatee, it’s lots of pills,” he wrote in his memoir.
“By the end of season three, I was spending most of my time figuring out how to get 55 Vicodin a day — I had to have 55 every day, otherwise I’d get so sick,” he added, also revealing that he had detoxed 65 times throughout his life.
In a 2022 interview with the New York Times, Matthew estimated that he had spent around $9 million in his efforts to get sober. But it was 2018 that marked a turning point for Matthew, after his colon burst because of his rampant drug use over the years.
The star spent two weeks in a coma and was told that he had “a 2 percent chance” of living. He needed to undergo more than a dozen stomach surgeries, and used a colostomy bag for nine months.
Matthew told People magazine that seeing the scars from his surgeries served as a reminder to stay sober, and director James Burrows said that in recent years, everybody had been “so proud” of Matthew for “making a remarkable recovery.”
And amid his own struggles, Matthew used his celebrity status to raise awareness about addiction in a bid to remove the stigma surrounding the illness. He also supported those battling addiction, and in 2013, he turned his Malibu mansion into a sober-living facility for men.
Matthew also wrote a play called The End of Longing, which he said was a “personal message to the world, an exaggerated form of me as a drunk.” He added: “I had something important to say to people like me, and to people who love people like me.”
And this is the part of his life that Matthew remained the most proud of, saying in an interview on the podcast Q with Tom Power that he hoped that the work he did to support people with addiction would be his lasting legacy after his death.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.