Matt LeBlanc

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE BOX - COLIN VICK­ERY TV WRITER

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

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