Fans of Friends may recall the episode in which Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry, briefly dates Susie Moss, played by Julia Roberts. The actress’s guest appearance on the sitcom was memorable not only because of her episode’s hilarious storyline, but because viewers learned that Perry and Roberts were actually a couple when it filmed. The relationship lasted only a couple months, however, and in his new memoir, Perry reveals exactly why that was.
In Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry admits he was deeply infatuated with Roberts—who was, at that point, already a Hollywood icon—but couldn’t handle the pressure of dating her, despite their chemistry.
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According to an excerpt published by The Times of London, Perry writes that Roberts told Friends producers she would guest star in the show under the condition she be included in Chandler Bing’s storyline.
Hearing this, Perry sent her “three dozen red roses and the card read, ‘The only thing more exciting than the prospect of you doing the show is that I finally have an excuse to send you flowers.'”
Roberts responded by sending him “lots and lots of bagels.”
The two then embarked on what Perry calls a “three-month courtship” through daily faxes (before email and text) while she was working on a film in France, ahead of her Friends appearance.
“Three or four times a day I would sit by my fax machine and watch the piece of paper slowly revealing her next missive,” Perry writes. “I was so excited that some nights I would find myself out at some party sharing a flirtatious exchange with an attractive woman and cut the conversation short so I could race home and see if a new fax had arrived. Nine times out of ten, one had.”
By the time they shot the Super Bowl episode, they were already a couple. Perry says that he went to New Mexico with Roberts to celebrate the new year in 1996 with her and met her family. “I did let her in, both figuratively and literally, and a relationship began,” he writes.
“It was like she was placed on this planet to make the world smile, and now, in particular, me. I was grinning like some 15-year-old on his first date,” he adds.
But two months into the romance, Perry broke up with the actress. “Dating Julia Roberts had been too much for me. I had been constantly certain that she was going to break up with me. Why would she not? I was not enough; I could never be enough; I was broken, bent, unlovable,” he writes. “So instead of facing the inevitable agony of losing her, I broke up with the beautiful and brilliant Julia Roberts.”
He adds, “She might have considered herself slumming it with a TV guy, and TV guy was now breaking up with her. I can’t begin to describe the look of confusion on her face.”
In the book, which will be published on November 1, Perry also recalls the moment he watched Roberts accept her Oscar for her role in Erin Brockovich while he was “sweating and twitching” in rehab, surrounded by fellow patients.
Overcome with emotion, he made a joke. “‘I’ll take you back,’ I said. ‘I’ll take you back.’ The whole room laughed, though this was not a funny line in a sitcom. This was real life now. Those people on the TV were no longer my people. No, the people I was lying in front of, shaking, covered in blankets, were my people now,” he writes.
Perry admits in his memoir that he’s happy and lucky to be alive after a decades-long battle with opioids and alcohol, and 15 stints in rehab.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.