Michael J. Fox on the Quietly Generous Side of Matthew Perry He 'Loved'

"He was just a funny guy, and if I was ever as funny as him — I mean, he was the funniest — I'm happy I had an impact on him," Fox said

<p>Jason Kempin/Getty; David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty</p> Michael J. Fox and Matthew Perry

Jason Kempin/Getty; David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty

Michael J. Fox and Matthew Perry

Michael J. Fox was a longtime inspiration Matthew Perry — and when beloved Friends star had a chance to return the favor, he did so with grace and discretion.

Nearly a year before the actor's apparent drowning on Oct. 28, Perry opened up about how he had been impressed by Fox’s talent and success since he was a teenager.

"I was young, I had done a couple of plays in school, and Michael J. Fox was it, man. When I was in ninth grade, Michael J. Fox had just done Back to the Future, and there was smoke coming out of my ears, I was so jealous of this guy," Perry said at a November 2022 event to promote his memoir best-selling memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.

“And he had, at the time, the No. 1 TV show and the No. 1 movie at the same time! So he was huge," Perry continued, before quipping, “And I don't know anybody else who's done that — except me."

Related: Remembering Matthew Perry's Life and Career in Photos

<p>David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty</p> Matthew Perry

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty

Matthew Perry

Reacting to Perry's praise, the 62-year-old Family Ties alum called his fellow Canadian a "funny guy."

"He was just a funny guy, and if I was ever as funny as him — I mean, he was the funniest — I'm happy I had an impact on him,” Fox told Entertainment Tonight in 2022, before sharing how their relationship transitioned from admiration from afar to friendship after he received an unexpected helping hand from Perry.

Related: Matthew Perry Was 'Looking Forward to Life' and Urged Others to Follow Their 'Dreams' (Exclusive)

<p>Evan Agostini/Getty</p> Matthew Perry and Michael J. Fox

Evan Agostini/Getty

Matthew Perry and Michael J. Fox

When Perry inked his historical $1 million per episode contract with Friends, Fox recalled how he made a significant contribution to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the actor's then-growing charitable organization for Parkinson’s disease.

"I hope this isn't indiscreet ... but when they first made their big sale and were made millionaires for the rest of their lives, He wrote a big fat check to the foundation," Fox recalled. "We were really early on and trying to find our feet. And it was such a vote of confidence."

He added, "And it wasn't accompanied by any self-aggrandizing or anything, he was just like, 'Take it and do your best.’ I loved that."

Related: John Stamos Recalls Matthew Perry's Kind Gesture on Friends Set 20 Years Ago: 'I Never Forgot That'

<p>Angela Weiss/Getty</p> Matthew Perry

Angela Weiss/Getty

Matthew Perry

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Perry's loved ones and fans continue to mourn his at unexpected death the age of 54.

On Nov. 3, his Friends costars Jennifer AnistonCourteney CoxLisa KudrowMatt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer gathered at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles for a celebration of life.

Prior to that, they issued an exclusive joint statement to PEOPLE: "We are all so utterly devastated by the loss of Matthew. We were more than just cast mates. We are a family."

The statement continued, "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. For now, our thoughts and our love are with Matty’s family, his friends, and everyone who loved him around the world."

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