The ‘Friends’ star was "incredibly happy" and starting a foundation to help others struggling with addiction, a source tells PEOPLE
Matthew Perry was enjoying a new chapter of life before his untimely death.
The actor, who died at 54 in an apparent drowning on Saturday, had just moved into his house after renovations and "was incredibly happy," a source tells PEOPLE exclusively, adding that Perry called his new home "heaven."
The star, who spoke candidly about his sobriety journey in the year leading up to his death, was also in the process of starting a foundation to help others struggling with addiction, says the source.
Best known for playing Chandler Bing on Friends, Perry grew up in Ottawa, Canada, and moved to California to live with his father as a teen, which he recounted in his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing.
The source told PEOPLE the star had been having fun with an idea for a TV series called "Mattman," and had also recently signed on to star in a drama called Unworthy, which was on hold due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.
Perry’s final Instagram post before his death — a nighttime snap of himself inside a hot tub — included a reference to "Mattman."
"Oh, so warm water swirling around makes you feel good? I'm Mattman," he captioned the snap, posted on Oct. 23.
On Sunday, Perry's family confirmed his death in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE: "We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our beloved son and brother. Matthew brought so much joy to the world, both as an actor and a friend. You all meant so much to him and we appreciate the tremendous outpouring of love."
In recent years, Perry had also found joy in the popular sport of pickleball, which he was playing hours before his death.
“He thought it was something that could help with his recovery and he was doing an awesome job,” his coach, Matt Manasse, told PEOPLE. “He loved it. He came out five times a week, would always talk about it. [He] got so much better, always made everyone laugh. He was competitive, just a genuine, good guy — caring for everybody.”
Social media tributes have been pouring in from Perry’s friends and co-stars celebrating the actor’s life and career.
Friends’ co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, along with executive producer Kevin Bright, issued a joint statement Sunday remembering the late actor, who they said “was always the funniest in the room.”
“We are shocked and deeply, deeply saddened by our beloved friend Matthew’s passing,” they wrote. “It still seems impossible. All we can say is that we feel blessed to have had him as part of our lives. He was a brilliant talent.”
They also reflected on Perry’s beloved character, adding: “It’s a cliché to say that an actor makes a role their own, but in Matthew’s case, there are no truer words. From the day we first heard him embody the role of Chandler Bing, there was no one else for us.”
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