Q&A: Matt LeBlanc

For the first time since Friends, the Newton native will be playing a different character on TV…himself. Sort of. 

Matt LeBlanc

Photograph courtesy of Matt LeBlanc

So you play a character named Matt LeBlanc, who is not necessarily like the real Matt LeBlanc, but maybe vaguely similar to him?
Well, it is loosely based on the public’s perception of celebrity. But he’s mostly a different guy. I’ll get a kick out of seeing if people think that’s what I’m really like.

The Matt LeBlanc in the show is kind of a jerk. I’m assuming you’re not a jerk, right?
I don’t know that he’s a jerk. I mean, he comes across as a jerk sometimes, sure, but I think everybody does at times. He’s more manipulative than I am.

I couldn’t help but notice that a large portion of the plot revolves around the size of a certain part of your anatomy.
Honest to God, I had nothing to do with that. They pitched me that idea, and I thought it was funny. I was like, “Yeah, sure, whatever.”

Is that one where people will need to figure out whether it’s the real or fake Matt LeBlanc?
Yeah, exactly. We’ll see how that one comes across.

You’ve probably always been confused with your characters.
People call me Joey on the street all the time.

And bring you sandwiches?
I do like sandwiches. Who doesn’t like a good sandwich, right?

I love Boston, but it’s tough to get a good sandwich here.
Go to Giuseppe’s down in Nonantum. There’s a line out the door at lunchtime. Cheap, too. Well, not as cheap as it was — I think it used to be 85 cents for a small and $1.25 for a large.

Sandwiches aside, this show is very different from Friends. Are you trying to distance yourself from Joey?
I don’t really have a beef with the whole Joey thing. As an actor, your job is to make the character believable. I guess I did my job. Before this show, I was just enjoying being a dad, goofing around, taking trips. And then [Friends co-creator] David [Crane] and Jeffrey [Klarik] called me with an idea.

Why lay low for so long?
Well, I spent 12 years working in a building with no windows and was just burnt out. I had gotten divorced, and I wasn’t spending as much time with my daughter as I wanted to.

If you count going to school at Newton North, that’s actually 16 years in buildings with no windows.
I was home not too long ago, but I didn’t go by to see the new school. I hear it’s great. But what was wrong with the old school?

Well, there was the asbestos problem.
Oh, I didn’t know there was an asbestos situation…. That would explain my emphysema.

The new school, it’s got a black-box theater, another auditorium. You could have them name it the Matt LeBlanc Drama Wing.
I think that would be very expensive.

Were you big into drama back then?
Not really; I got into it after high school. I was in the voc-tech program at North, so I was a carpentry major.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve built?
Probably my senior project in school. I built a kitchen.

A whole kitchen?
I put it in Brighton somewhere. It came out really nice. The wood came in rough and we milled it down. A lot of white oak.

One last question. There are a ton of actors from Newton, like John Krasinski and John Slattery. Any special reason, you think?
Something in the water makes us good liars. Because that’s what it is, right? Acting is lying for a living.

Sure. That’s probably why everyone else in town is a lawyer.
Good one.

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