Emmys 2014: Matt LeBlanc shaken by wake-up call; no 'Friends' reunion

Emmys 2014: Matt LeBlanc shaken by wake-up call; no 'Friends' reunion
Matt LeBlanc in a scene from "Episodes." (Showtime)

It's 6:30 in the morning and "Episodes" star Matt LeBlanc explains that he's doing his interviews in his raspy "morning voice."

It's also the third time he's been nominated for the Showtime comedy "Episodes," in which he plays an exaggerated version of himself, and his sixth nod overall, including three nominations for playing struggling actor Joey Tribbiani on the long-running Emmy darling "Friends."


Where were you when you heard about your nomination?

In bed. Like everyone else I think. It's funny, I sleep so soundly, thank God, but when the phone rings this early I immediately go, "Who's in trouble?! What's wrong?! I hope I'm not in trouble."


Well, it's just the opposite actually. So, how did you hear the news?

My publicist called my cellphone and the house phone, a couple times each and I finally woke up. ... I went to bed last night thinking, OK, hopefully there's an early-morning call -- and completely forgot about it. Shows you what a crappy active memory I have. I can remember my lines, that's about it. I'm not sure what I was doing yesterday.

Were you surprised at the nomination? It's your third time for "Episodes."

Yeah, it's always really surprising. I believe in the show. I'm really proud of it, you know, and I believe we've got a great group of actors. We've got great writing. And I'm really proud of our writers -- Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane -- who are also nominated this morning. I think that's great. They're already [on set] in London and I'm getting ready to leave in about 10 days to start Season 4. So this resets the bar again and that means there's no foolin' around when I get over there. Best foot forward and we have a really good team, and I'm really proud of the show.


What is it about your show that resonates with viewers?

It's a show about making a show in Hollywood, and the entertainment industry is just that: entertainment. So I think people, the population, given the opportunity to look behind the velvet curtain, if you will, is interesting to people. What's behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. It's the entertainment industry that people turn to to get away from their problems, for escapism. I think that a look behind that and how that works is always interesting. We give them this exaggerated, bizarro world sort of version of it.

I think it's fun and I think the show is genuinely funny. There's comedies out there that are labeled comedies that I watch and I don't laugh. I think this show makes people laugh. It's fresh, there's no low-hanging fruit, if you will. The jokes are all smart. It's sort of an intelligent show and even the toilet jokes are done in a smart way. Jeffrey and David -- there's no writing staff. It's two guys who write every single word of every single episode and they do such a fantastic job. I'm so proud of them. I've been trying to call them, I can't wait to get a hold of them.

Where would you like to see your character/show headed next season?

I just finished reading them all. This season is more of a downwards spiral for my guy and I think this year we get into some financial woes, which is interesting to watch this guy handle that, who hasn't had to deal with financial problems in a long time. Now he's having to deal with it in his sort of adolescent approach to big boy problems is funny I think.

Did you think there were any glaring omissions in the nominations?

Everyone was saying Ricky Gervais is the big surprise but Ricky Gervais, no matter what he does, is always funny. Louis C.K. I think is hysterical. Don Cheadle is great. Bill Macy. Jim Parsons, he's always there. He wins usually.

These are a handful of actors you've been nominated with for the past couple years. What's it like seeing them again year after year?


It's kinda like that club you go to, get invited to once a year if you're lucky enough, you see those faces and you go, "Hey, man, how's it going?"

It's different though, because it's a competition too.

It's a strange competition because it's not a race. It's not like we scored more points than you, we crossed the finish line first. It's a weird race. There's nothing you can do now. It's like when you're at the Emmys, if you look at it like that, there's nothing you can do at that point. The race is over. It's like a race that you were blindfolded in and you don't know who won. (Laughs) "Let's watch the tape, who crossed the line?" It's really strange to me because it's different projects. It's different characters. Who was the best? I don't know. It's all open to interpretation. I'm just really honored and please to be part of it.

Other than your own show, who are you rooting for in the other categories?

I gotta say, I'm a big "Ray Donovan" fan. I think that show is really well-executed. I like that show a lot. Aside from that I haven't been watching too, too much.

So, how tired are you of being asked about a "Friends" reunion?

I'm not tired of getting asked that question at all. "Friends" was probably the greatest 10 years of my life. I'd be hard-pressed to find something that matches that in terms of success and just sheer fun. So anything that harks back to that has a soft spot in my heart.

As far as a reunion project, that's just not in the cards. I think that show was about a finite period in your life -- after college and before you start your family where your friends are your family -- and that's what that show was about. So to go beyond that doesn't feel like you'd do justice to that. I liken it to that saying that the book is always better than the movie. I think it's best to imagine what those characters are doing now versus to see those characters. No one wants to see us in our 40s (laughs). Joey's still struggling as an actor. It'd just be sad.

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