Matt LeBlanc went AWOL when Friends spin-off Joey ended in 2006. The 50-year-old actor, who played the dimwitted Joey Tribbiani on the hit US sitcom, retreated to the farm for five years before appearing as a fictional version of himself on Episodes.
But now LeBlanc is back as Adam Burns on Man with a Plan. Burns, the co-owner of a construction company, decides to spend more time at home raising kids Kate, Teddy and Emme when wife Andi (Liza Snyder) returns to the work force after 13 years.
LeBlanc’s return to the small screen has been a success with Man with a Plan already renewed for a second season.
It is great to see you back in a starring role. You seemed to disappear. After Joey ended I took about five or six years off and just spent time being a dad. I was in a real fortunate position. I had enough money that I didn’t have to work — I could retire. Then Episodes kind of re-whet my appetite for work (even though) it was sort of tricky going back after such a big break.
What made you return to a Friends- style sitcom with Man with a Plan? I learned so much on Friends and I missed that format. You spend time working on the script and you shoot one night a week so it’s like being part of an ensemble theatre company. Playing the dad … I have had a lot of funny experiences as a parent over the years.
How old are your kids now? My daughter, Marina, is 13, and I have a stepson (Tyler) who is 26 and a stepdaughter (Jacqueline) who’s 22. What is the hardest part of being a dad? I think the hardest thing is patience. You have to really dig deep … you find yourself being short with them and then kids are brutally honest. And if you hurt their feelings they don’t hide that. They are young for such a small period of time. They grow up so fast.
“If I can make people laugh for half an hour and lighten the mood, I have done my job”
HOW MATT LEBLANC SEES HIS ROLE
The new generation, is it scary? Parenting has become very PC, it seems to me. I remember my mum saying things like “do as I say and not as I do”. My mother talks about when she was young there were things like the belt. You could be in jail if you do that today.
Do you think the show will give some help or guidance to any parents nowadays? I’m not here to be preachy. If I can make people laugh for half an hour and lighten the mood and maybe make them forget about their problems for a second, I have done my job.
How do you feel about Friends after all these years? I am very proud of having been on Friends. I don’t try to get away from it. You can call me Joey all the time. I was part of something that was iconic. People have said to me things like “my mom was dying of cancer and Friends was the only thing that made her laugh” or “I went through a divorce and I thought it was the end of the world and Friends made me laugh” — things like that. It still holds up. We dealt with things that are eternal — friendship, trust, love and family.
WATCH MAN WITH A PLAN, TEN, MONDAY, 9.30PM