It’s been almost a decade since Friends ended its run on NBC, but rarely a day goes by without someone asking Matt LeBlanc, “How you doin’?” echoing Joey Tribbiani, the horndog actor he played on the sitcom for ten years and two more on the spinoff Joey. It doesn’t piss him off. “I don’t know that I’ll ever get away from the fact that I played Joey,” he concedes. “People are always going to remember that, which is flattering and really nice and I don’t see that as a bad thing. I’m extremely proud of it. It was a really great run, a lot of fun. We all stuck together and accomplished a lot of things. It changed the course of my life forever.”
But these days, he’s having a blast playing a fictionalized version of himself as the star of a ridiculous sitcom called Pucks! on the Showtime series Episodes, which hilariously sends up the TV business. And he must be doing something right. Now in its third season (Sundays, 10:30pm ET), the show recently got renewed for a fourth go-round. We picked LeBlanc’s brain about Friends, Episodes, movie roles and practical jokes.
“They can’t fire me. I play myself.
Who are they going to get to replace me?”
How does Episodes compare to doing Friends?
This is a whole different animal. It’s a much smaller audience and a more intimate kind of a thing. I’ve been asked a lot if I think people are going to confuse it with the real Matt LeBlanc, and I’ve always been sort of loose in saying what the differences are between the two because I think that’s kind of irrelevant. If you believe it, then great, I’ve done my job. But I think people know that it’s a character and everything’s boosted up. Like the way we make fun of the network people. Everything is a little larger than life. The characters are equally challenging. Joey was a really fun guy to play, the guy that was always, in my opinion, not dumb, just incorrect. This is a guy who has achieved great success but that’s fleeting, and he’s trying to get that back. That struggle is interesting as well. I’m having a great time and I’m excited that we’re going to do another year.
You have a reputation for being a prankster on set. Spill, please.
In the first season I played a joke on Stephen Mangan. The scene was the first table read for Pucks! We got to his close-up and he went to get his makeup touched up. I put a giant piece of salami under the front cover of his script. He opened it up and there was this greasy, horrible salami. He looked across at me and I just did my best to keep a straight face.
Nah. They can’t fire me. I play myself. So who are they going to get to replace me?
Joey and Chandler in a canoe. Classic moment No. 367 on Friends.
On Episodes, you complain that you can’t get a movie role. Is that something the real Matt LeBlanc wants?
For me, four months a year of work is plenty. I get to spend time with my daughter and take trips and stuff like that. I feel really fortunate to be in a position where I don’t have to work.
May marks 10 years since Friends went off the air. Any plans to mark the occasion?
Not that I know of. If they have any, they haven’t called me.
Ever watch the old Friends reruns?
Sometimes, it depends on what I’m doing. If I’m looking for something, then I won’t, but if I’m just kind of cruising around and I see one, I’ll stop, usually to see which one it is. Sometimes I’ll say, “What is this? I don’t remember this.” We did a lot of them.
What’s your must-see TV?
I’m kind of a motor head—I have a few cars, older Porsches that I like to play with and fix up. So if there’s racing, I’ll probably watch that. I watch the news. I kind of got addicted to The Voice last year. That was kind of fun. My daughter loves to sing so we watched that together. But both of us would rather be outside.