Did America love Joey Tribbiani for who he was or just for the company he kept over the past decade? Matt LeBlanc, the star of Joey, will get the answer to that question this fall, when his Friends spin-off attempts to become NBC's next Frasier by staying as popular as the hit that spawned it. Here, the 37-year-old LeBlanc mulls over his future prospects.
TV Guide Online: Is it asking too much for an intellectually challenged fellow like Joey to anchor an entire show?
Matt LeBlanc: Everybody says something stupid at least once a day. With me, it's probably more than that. So I think people will still be able to identify with him.
TVGO: Does it bother you if fans assume your SAT scores are pretty close to Joey's?
LeBlanc: When somebody comes up and says, "Hey, Joey!" that's great. That person I've fooled. I know I know how to add and subtract. I do have people come up to me and speak verrrry slowwwwwwly. Which I think is funny.
TVGO: But the writers on Friends and Joey must steal something from Matt and give it to Joey?
LeBlanc: You open the door and go into the writers' room and they all begin to study you. All you can hear is your watch going tick, tick, tick.... It's like being a nude model in an art class.
TVGO: You have to be a smart guy, since you're a producer on Joey. Is it fun being a boss?
LeBlanc: It's definitely less fun. On Friends, when I was done on stage, I was done. It was like, "Hey, let's go to the beach now." It's interesting to see things in a different light now.
TVGO: Is it safe to assume that in this new show, Joey won't be majoring in astrophysics at USC?
LeBlanc: A lot of times, you see a spin-off and they change the person a little. As a viewer, you feel cheated. In Joey, you'll see a different side of him, but the things you loved about him will still be there.
TVGO: Do you keep in touch with your old Friends?
LeBlanc: At the end, we all kind of clung to each other, cherishing the last moments. Then, when it did end, everybody went their separate ways and accepted the task at hand what's life going to be like after Friends? We do check-in calls here and there. Our relationships need a little air.
TVGO: David Schwimmer will be directing at least one episode of Joey, but have you talked to the old gang about doing a guest appearance on your series?
LeBlanc: They've all said they're open to coming if they're available, but it doesn't feel right right now. I don't want it to seem like somebody came in and propped us up.