HFPA In Conversation: Matt Leblanc is Making Timeless Comedy

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros February 20, 2019
Actor Matt LeBlanc, Golden Globe winner

magnus sundholm/hfpa



Matt LeBlanc doesn’t mind if people remember him as Joey from Friends.  But for the last few years, he has been playing Adam Burns on the CBS’ TV show Man with a Plan, currently in its third season.

“I think when you start a new show you’re always trying to figure out what elements of it work better than others, what elements don’t work at all and by the time you get to the third season you’re sort of off to the races and you know what’s working and you can do stories that are more character driven.  They are more fun because it’s less exposition and the audience know the characters a little better by then,” LeBlanc tells HFPA journalist Kristien Gijbels at CBS Television City.

When Adam’s wife returned to work, he has been taking more responsibilities for parenting their children.  But balancing between his wife’s and his father's parenting views is challenging for him; his wife thinks he is not modern enough and in his father's opinion he is not hard enough. “Adam is a guy who was raised by a Vietnam vet, very hard and very disciplined father.  Now he is trying to raise his kids in a completely different world.  We try to illustrate how parenting has changed and how the practices you use to keep your kids in line a long time ago, A.) aren’t effective anymore, they just don’t work and B.) they are illegal now.”

As an executive producer, LeBlanc wants to make the show a little edgy but not too political.  They are dealing with issues like bullying and eating habits. “Friends never dealt with anything topical.  It dealt with themes that will stand the test of time like love, marriage, trust, betrayal, friendship, career stuff.  I think that’s what we’re trying to move toward and that seems to be where we’re getting the most traction.”

Just recently he was on three different TV shows; Episodes, Top Gear and Man with a Plan. “Originally I was just doing Episodes.  It was coming to an end and I knew it was going to be our last season so I started developing Man with a Plan.”

He went on Top Gear to promote Episodes, which he received two Golden Globe nominations and won Best Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical category in 2012. “They asked me to come back again and I did.  Then they asked me to host a special and I did.  Then they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it permanently and I kind of thought, I don’t know if I can do that with Man with a Plan.  I looked at it on paper and I thought, well that looks doable, I guess I could do that.  Boy was I wrong.  I was jetlagged for three years, it was just too much.  I did a fulltime job-based in Los Angeles and also host a fulltime job-based in the UK.  That was a lot of flying.”

First time in his life he was too busy.  “I have a young daughter and I was gone too much.  Up until this point, I put work first.  But I’m at a point in my life now where that is not the case anymore.  It is more important to me to spend time with my family and so that’s what I chose to do.”

Listen to the podcast and hear why a Friends reunion is not happening; what kind of concerts he goes to with his daughter; what movie his mom and his daughter watched together; what were the highlights of being on Friends; how he is different from Joey; what he will miss most about Top Gear; what was his first car; why he was jealous of his friends; what is the latest car he bought; when did he meet his dad for the first time; has money changed the way people are treating him; what was he studying before he became an actor; why he blew off an audition; how was it shooting the Coca-Cola commercial; when did Meryl Streep congratulate him; how he likes living on his ranch; what is the motto he is teaching his daughter and what clichés he learned from his mother and grandparents; why he doesn't go to his cousins’ birthdays and weddings; why he thinks that comedy is like humanity’s band-aid.