Keith Morrison, the veteran “Dateline” correspondent and stepfather of the late actor Matthew Perry, says in a new interview that the “Friends” star felt he was overcoming his yearslong struggles with addiction before he was found unresponsive in his hot tub in late October.

“He felt like he was beating it,” Morrison told “TODAY” show co-anchor Hoda Kotb on an episode of her “Making Spaces” podcast. “But you never beat it, and he knew that, too.”

Morrison said his grief is still raw. “It’s with you every day. It’s with you all the time, and there’s some new aspect of it that assaults your brain,” he said. “It’s not easy.”

Perry, who was open about his experiences with alcoholism and substance misuse, died Oct. 28 at age 54 from the “acute effects” of ketamine, the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office said in an autopsy report released in December. The report said drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine, a synthetic opioid, contributed to his death.

The autopsy report said Perry had been “reportedly clean for 19 months.” He was reported to have been using ketamine infusion therapy to help deal with depression and anxiety, according to the findings, and his last treatment was a week and a half before he died.

Morrison, who has been married to Perry’s mother, Suzanne Perry Morrison, since 1981, told Kotb that his stepson “didn’t get to have his third act, and that’s not fair.”

Perry was beloved by generations of television viewers for his role as the smart-aleck accountant Chandler Bing on the NBC sitcom “Friends.” In late 2022, Perry published a memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” which chronicled his upbringing in Canada, as well as his rise to fame, addiction challenges and recovery.

Morrison said Perry and his mother were closer than they had been in decades when he died. They were “texting each other constantly,” and he shared “things with her that most middle-aged men don’t share with their mothers.” (Perry’s mother, who was a press secretary for the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, divorced his biological father when Perry was young.)

Morrison said he can still feel “the echo” of Perry’s presence in his day-to-day life, remembering his stepson as a “larger-than-life person” who always “lit up a room.”

“He was goofy. He was funny. He was acerbic,” Morrison said. “But even if he didn’t say a word, he was the center of attention.”

In describing their relationship, Morrison said he and Perry were, “as they say, chalk and cheese. He was loud and out there and funny and aggressive.”

Morrison recalled taking a young Perry to hockey games on Saturday mornings, remembering that “if he didn’t score all the goals, he was so angry all the way home and he wouldn’t talk to anybody; he was really mad.” Perry would behave much the same way if he missed a shot during a tennis match.

“He had that kind of very fiery personality, and mine is not like that, as you can imagine,” said Morrison, who is widely known for his wry baritone voice. “But we got along fine. … I never tried to replace his dad … but I was there for him, and he knew it.” (Perry’s biological father was the character actor John Bennett Perry, who has appeared in various films and television shows.)

Morrison said he tried to support Perry “as much as possible” over the years.

“That’s a whirlwind of a life, to get involved in a program that became as wildly successful as it was, to be fighting an addiction that was so virulent, that went after him so hard,” Morrison said, adding that Perry would get to a “certain point” when he knew he needed to get treatment and “accept help when he needed it.”


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