Matthew Perry's battle with gastrointestinal perforation brought his ''whole family'' closer together.

The 'Friends' actor was hospitalised for three months in 2018 after undergoing an emergency operation to address the condition - which causes severe abdominal pain and tenderness and can be fatal - and his stepfather Keith Morrison has now opened up on the way his loved ones rallied round him.

He told PEOPLE: ''We were able to be with him a lot of the time through that, which was I think good for everybody.

''It's awful when people have a serious [illness] and have to have operations and worry about whether or not they're going to make it through.

''It brings the whole family closer. We all get to be there to pull for him. He's coming through it.''

Keith - who has son Michael, 46, from a previous marriage - tied the knot with Matthew's mother Suzanne Perry, 72, in 1981, and the couple have adult children Caitlin, 39, Emily, 35, Will, 34 and Madeline, 31, together.

Reflecting on the 51-year-old actor's childhood, the proud 'Dateline' journalist described him as ''an intense, talented, focused character''.

Keith, 73, said: ''He's one of those people who always is the centre of the room for a reason and it was so as a kid.

''On the hockey team, I used to take him off to his hockey games on Saturday mornings. It was like Matthew and the hockey team. He was the one who scored all the goals. He was the guy. The same on the tennis court.

''He was extremely, extremely good on the tennis court and very intense. He's an intense, talented, focused character. He's very bright. That was always the case as he was growing up.''

Keith also commented on Matthew's success on 'Friends' after landing the party of Chandler Bing at a time he was unsure whether his acting career would work out.

He added: ''He was at a stage where [he was questioning] if this acting thing was going to work or not. Then suddenly, boy did it ever.

''A million things have sprung from that, but him being selected for a role like that does not surprise me one bit.

''It matched his particular sense of humour precisely, whether they wrote that for him knowing what he was like or whether he adapted it more for himself, probably a combination of the two.''