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The Boston Globe

Television

Perry goes on with a new set of friends

BEVERLY HILLS — Matthew Perry has some new friends.

In “Go On,” Perry plays Ryan King, a sports-radio host coping with the loss of his wife and the characters he meets in the support group he’s forced into joining by his boss. Perry recently chatted with reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour.

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Q. The show tries to balance a dark subject with humor. How will that evolve?

A. We’re still trying to figure out the exact tone. What we’re shooting for is just smart and to be able to not shy away from the stuff that’s happened to these people but also to be really funny at the same time. Right now we’re just making sure the characters are doing things that people actually would do, as opposed to just reaching for the joke.

Q. You mentioned earlier that the pilot features one of the biggest acting challenges of your career. Can you talk a little about that?

A. [It’s] the scene where I have to talk about how my wife died. I had read that scene in the script three months earlier and I would look at it and know that was coming. We shot a bunch of funny things and then the day came to shoot that scene and I was like, “All right, I’m going to show everybody how good an actor I am!” And I walked in and sat down and just started sobbing — sobbing, tears, snot, big. And [the director] Todd Holland walked up to me and said, “You can’t do that.” And I said, “What are you talking about? That’s the best acting I’ve ever done in my entire life!” And he said, “That’s way too indulgent, you just have to sort of tear up, you can’t go that far.” And I said, “OK,” and that’s what I did and he was right. I was really happy with it and that’s why there’s directors.

Q. In the pilot Ryan is very disruptive to the group. Will he continue that or fall in line?

A. I think in things like this it’s really important that it’s not linear because that’s not the way that life is. I think he’s going to get into it a little bit and then not be into it and then get into it a little bit more. But he’s not going to be the disruptive presence he was in the pilot the whole time, because he realizes that he needs these people and they need him.

Q. Are you drawn to playing darker characters having played Chandler Bing for so long?

A. No. I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with that. I relate to it in real life, this journey of a bent or broken person who’s trying to do better. I think those are the most interesting people.

Interview was edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman
@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman

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