Matt LeBlanc will forever be associated with Joey Tribbiani, the sandwich-loving actor he played for 10 seasons on Friends. While that might bother some stars, LeBlanc appreciates the enduring fan fervor.
"I'll always be known for Friends—so will Matthew [Perry], David [Schwimmer], Courteney [Cox]," he tells Boston Common of the beloved show, which also starred Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow. "It's OK with me. I can only speak for myself, but I'm very proud of it. I wouldn't do anything differently."
In fact, LeBlanc is merely grateful that his character was given more depth as the seasons went on. "Joey was a peripheral character in the beginning. He was this guy who lived across the hall and hit on the girls all the time. Fortunately, I had the foresight to think, 'This is a special thing that's starting to gel, like a lighting-in- a-bottle thing, and I want to make sure I stick around,'" the 46-year-old recalls. "It was a survival tactic. Because I thought, 'How long can it last if I'm just the guy hitting on them?'"
During the comedy's heyday, LeBlanc says he couldn't go anywhere without getting recognized. "The weirdest thing was walking into a room, a restaurant, a bar, a movie theater, anywhere there's a lot of people, and everybody sort of stopping what they're doing and taking notice you're in the room. And they know you, or they think they do—they know your name, they know what you do for a living, they know how much money you make, they know where you're from, but they're all strangers to you."
LeBlanc has distanced himself somewhat from his most famous role in Episodes, in which he satirizes himself. "It's a fictitious character, and you just have to approach it that way. He just happens to have the same name I do. When we were coming up with who the character was going to be, I thought it would be fun—since our salaries were all published during Friends—to make this Matt LeBlanc way, way wealthier than me," the Golden Globe winner says in the magazine's Spring Fashion issue.
Of course, LeBlanc is quick to point out that he's not the same guy viewers see on the Showtime series. "You've got this guy completely oblivious to the consequences of his actions; that's fun to play," the Newton, Mass., native says. "And he's really damaged, this lost soul, the Matt LeBlanc on TV."
But, the actor adds, "I like to think I have my s--t a little more together than that."