For an entire decade, Matt LeBlanc played the role of Joey Tribbiani on Friends. The cast played the roles for a long time, and each ended up earning one of the highest TV salaries in history for their efforts. LeBlanc ended up liking the gig enough that he took his own spinoff role on Joey, but when it was all over, Matt LeBlanc says he was so burnt out he took to hiding out in his own house. Here’s what he had to say in a recent interview.
For years and years, I barely left the house. I was burnt out. I wanted to not have a schedule, not be somewhere. I was in a position to do that. My agent was bummed. Most actors call their agents and say, ‘What’s going on?’. I’d call mine and say, ‘Please lose my number for a few years’. It was a very dark time. I almost had a nervous breakdown.
While talking to The Mirror, Matt LeBlanc said that when Joey flopped, he wasn’t sure what to do. In the above quote he mentions that he was “burnt out,” which makes sense, but it was also probably strange to spend 12 years in the head of one specific character and then no longer have that character to fall back on. Starting something new is always challenging and if you’ve inhabited a role for a long time, that can make the idea of turning to a new gig even more daunting. But those weren’t the only problems Matt LeBlanc was facing as Friends and Joey finished their runs. His personal life was suffering, too.
It wasn’t just the loss of Joey Tribbiani that was keeping Matt LeBlanc from taking on new roles. His marriage to Melissa McKnight was falling apart and his daughter Marina was diagnosed with cortical dysplasia, a brain development abnormality that can cause seizures and other problems. So, not only was there no longer solace in the gig he had occupied for a long time, at home, there were many problems, too.
So, LeBlanc took a break, appearing very little in the public eye or in the TV realm between 2006 and 2011, when he landed the starring role in Episodes. In Episodes, Matt LeBlanc plays a fictionalized version of himself. The show has been renewed for a fifth season. In addition, in 2016, he agreed to join most of the other Friends cast members for the upcoming tribute to director James Burrows on the Peacock Network. More on that here.
Interestingly, we only recently learned that LeBlanc had given some precious advice to The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar about trying to stay grounded while being one of the most famous TV names in the game. It’s advice he clearly took and that has served the actor well in the long run. Here’s to decades and decades of continued success for Matt LeBlanc.