The rumour mill is in overdrive about the future of hit US comedy friends and whether the six stars are going to sign up for another series. Matt LeBlanc, who has won the hearts of millions of TV viewers playing struggling actor Joey Tribbiani, suggests he might be ready to move on.
“All good things come to an end – right,” says the 35-year-old actor , saying that while he would be sad to leave the show which made him a star, he isn’t worried about his future career.
“I’m not nervous, just sad. I’ve had a lot of laughs every day, it’s a group of people I’ve become very close to,” LeBlanc says.
“I’ll miss the relationships there. It’s not very often that you have a group of people – and I think this is also the appeal of the show – who are very, very different from one another and yet they are in a group and they are inseparable.”
The apparent closeness of the six Friends – LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer – is well documented and in recent years their solidarity has paid off.
The stars managed to increase their pay to a whacking €1.1m each per episode after negotiating a record-breaking deal.
And when it comes to story-lines, it seems the Friends are also on the same wavelength. LeBlanc reveals that plans for the current series being shown in the UK which has Joey falling in love with Rachel Green (Aniston) initially left the cast horrified.
“When they first told us about that storyline, the whole cast – and I mean unanimous across the board – was dead set against it.
“Nobody wanted any part of it, everybody thought it was totally inappropriate.”
He says they told the writers: “‘You can’t do that to these people, it will totally ruin the synergy that we have, it’s not right.”’
But the actors were eventually persuaded otherwise.
LeBlanc explains: “David Crane, our creator, very plainly said ‘It’s very, very scary that’s what I like about it’.
“And everybody took a step back and said ‘Oh so we’re mixing it up, we’re shaking the tree a little bit, oh OK’.
“And the writers cared so much they were there the whole time, they were right there.
“It was a very carefully walked path and I think they wrote it brilliantly. When it was finally ready to shoot you could walk on set and be really proud of what you were about to do.”
It was these shows that won the producers this year’s Emmy for best comedy series while Aniston scooped the award for best actress in a comedy.
LeBlanc and Perry were also up for an Emmy in the best comedy actor category but lost to Ray Romano from the show Everybody Loves Raymond.
LeBlanc is full of praise for Aniston who has graced the cover of almost every major American magazine recently and who is already being talked about as a potential Oscar nominee for her performance in The Good Girl.
Describing her appeal, he says: “She’s that girl next door, it’s the sweetheart thing.
“She’s got The Good Girl, she just won the Emmy,she’s really hot just now, so yeah she’s on the cover of everything.”
LeBlanc insists he wasn’t too disappointed by his own failure to win a trophy. “I wasn’t that broken up that I didn’t win in my category, it was great to be nominated but I don’t really look for that.
The awards aren’t really that relevant to me.”
In addition to shooting the ninth season of Friends and the second Charlie’s Angels movie, LeBlanc has been busy promoting his new film All The Queen’s Men which opened in the US last week.
LeBlanc and co-stars Eddie Izzard and James Cosmo dress in drag for the low-budget movie which features a team of Second World War soldiers who cross enemy lines to infiltrate a Nazi machine factory staffed by women.
Arriving for an interview to promote the film, LeBlanc sheepishly confides that he’ll have to keep his jacket fastened because he spilt salad dressing on his pale blue shirt during lunch.
As he laughs before opening the jacket to show off the offending stain, it’s easy to imagine Joey doing exactly the same thing.
LeBlanc admits people find it hard to distinguish him from Joey – even thinking he is as lacking in intelligence as his adorable but dumb character.
“People tend to speak slowly to me,” he grins. “That’s funny, but you know a lot of times I will just say ‘Think what you want’ because I think for someone to watch your work and believe that’s who you are that’s the ultimate compliment.
“You can’t ask for better – they can say ‘That was great you did a great job’ but if they believe you’re that guy then you’ve done your job as good as it possibly can be done. You’ve made it three-dimensional.”
In reality, LeBlanc insists he’s very different to Joey.
“There’s an energy that he has that I don’t have. I don’t have that big wild energy that he has – that’s not me and I’m not that guy.
“So I have to kind of crank that up before the show. Every day I have a bunch of coffee, get all wired up and go out there.”
And although he has shared something of Joey’s playboy image in the past, being linked with a string of women including actresses Kate Hudson and Minnie Driver, LeBlanc is now firmly settled in a long-term relationship.
He has been engaged to model Melissa McKnight for the past four years and plays dad to her two children.
A wedding date has been set although LeBlanc coyly declines to reveal when it will take place. He’ll only say that talk of festive nuptials are unfounded.
“That’s a big rumour in the tabloids,” he smiles. “But it’s not set for Christmas.”