Family & Companions
A former model and commercial actor who utilized his working-class persona and easy charm for comedic effect, actor Matt LeBlanc struggled through a number of failed series before becoming one of the highest-paid performers on television as a cast member of the long-running "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004). As the dim-witted but good-natured Joey Tribbiani, a struggling actor and serial lothario, LeBlanc became an instant household name alongside his co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox. But just like his castmates, LeBlanc struggled to translate his small screen success to feature films. LeBlanc had the toughest time with his big screen career despite a major supporting role in the critically maligned "Lost in Space" (1998) and the monster hit "Charlie's Angels" (2000). LeBlanc returned to series television with "Joey" (NBC, 2004-06), which depicted the continuing adventures of Joey Tribbiani in Los Angeles. Despite heavy promotion, audience interest in "Joey" waned by season's end, leading to the show's cancellation in the middle of Season Two. He would go on to critical acclaim by lampooning himself on "Episodes" (Showtime, 2010-15), and later co-hosted a rebooted version of the popular British auto show "Top Gear" (BBC 2016- ) while returning to American network TV as the star of family sitcom "Man With A Plan" (CBS 2016- ). Regardless of his post-"Friends" struggles, LeBlanc remained one of the more recognizable and beloved television actors working in the business.
Born on July 25, 1967 in Newton, MA, LeBlanc was raised by his father, Paul, a mechanic, and his mother, Pat, an office manager in the heavily Italian neighborhood known as Nonantum; the two divorced in 1974. Meanwhile, LeBlanc graduated from Newton North High School and soon headed to New York City to eek out a modeling career when he was 17, beginning his professional career in commercials for Heinz Ketchup, Levi's Jeans and Doritos. LeBlanc transitioned to series television with a co-starring role on the short-lived high school drama, "TV 101" (CBS, 1988-89), which was canceled after 13 episodes. Following his television movie debut, he guest starred on "Married.with Children" (Fox, 1987-1997) and had his character spun off into its own sitcom, "Top of the Heap" (Fox, 1991). LeBlanc played Vinnie Verducci, the son of a bottom-dweller (Joseph Bologna) from the Chicago slums and dimwitted precursor to Joey Tribbiani, who tries to marry into high society in order to get rich. The show lasted only seven episodes before being canceled. He reprised the character for "Vinnie and Bobby" (Fox, 1992), which again lasted only seven episodes.
LeBlanc finally struck sitcom gold as part of the twenty-something ensemble series, "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004), as aspiring actor Joey Tribbiani, a dim, but good-natured womanizer obsessed with meatball subs. Though using nothing more than a "How you doin'?" to pick up just about any woman he wants, LeBlanc's Joey was much more than a typical "mimbo" role, with the actor often elevating the character with pointed observations and quick-witted comments. Living across the hall from friends Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Monica (Courteney Cox) with the sarcastic Chandler (Matthew Perry), Joey spent the entire 10 seasons going from one woman to another - even falling briefly and unbelievably in love with Rachel - while struggling to become a working actor. With the showing becoming hugely popular right from the start, LeBlanc quickly became a fan favorite, as did his onscreen best friend Perry; scenes between these two polar opposites were among the show's guaranteed laugh-inducers. During his run, LeBlanc - like his "Friends" costars - tried parlaying his newfound celebrity into a feature career, which proved to be a harder task than first imaged. His feature debut, "Ed" (1996), in which he played straight man to a chimp, however, failed to win over critics and audiences.
LeBlanc fared somewhat better with his turn as Major Don West in the feature version of the 1960s television series "Lost in Space" (1998), which still struggled at the box office amidst a majority of critics thrashing the movie for being meandering and pedestrian. He also brought a dash of Joey-esque charm to his role as Lucy Liu's Hollywood actor boyfriend in the remake of "Charlie's Angels" (2000), though his small role was overshadowed by the film's three Angels (Liu, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore). In 2002, LeBlanc challenged his pretty boy image in "All the Queen's Men," in which he played an Allied intelligence agent during World War II who dresses in drag in order to infiltrate an all-women factory and retrieve an Enigma machine. Roundly panned by critics, the film marked a nadir in LeBlanc's struggling film career. He rebounded a little with another small turn in "Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle" (2003), while a heavily hyped storyline on "Friends" had womanizing Joey falling for Aniston's Rachel; a turn of events the actor pulled off with surprising vulnerability and his increasingly disarming comedic delivery.
As "Friends" headed into its final season in 2003-04, NBC announced that upon the show's conclusion, LeBlanc's character of Joey would be spun off into his own solo series, produced by a team of "Friends" scribes and starring LeBlanc, who also had a creative and financial stake in the new venture. Meanwhile, because of his 10 seasons on the consistently highly-rated "Friends," LeBlanc and his castmates had become some of the highest paid actors working in television. With the show nearing its emotional conclusion, NBC heavily advertised the finale for weeks, building hype and anticipation for "The Last One," which was watched by over 50 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched series finales in television history. After saying a heart-wrenching goodbye to his fellow castmates - all of whom were tight off-screen as well - LeBlanc moved on to headline "Joey" (NBC, 2004-06), which continued the adventures of his beloved "Friends" character.
Though initially anticipated to be a slam dunk in the ratings, "Joey" suffered from diminishing ratings over its first season following a strong debut. Though 18 million watched the pilot episode, less than nine million tuned in for the season finale. The ratings dip continued throughout season two despite a Golden Globe nomination for LeBlanc, resulting in the series being canceled in early 2006 before all the episodes were aired. After "Joey," LeBlanc remained out of the limelight for a few years, surfacing only to serve as an executive producer on the failed comic book adaptation, "Jonah Hex" (2010). But he returned to series television once again with "Episodes" (Showtime, 2010-15), in which he played a fictionalized version of himself. The series centered on a married British comedy team (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig), who come to Hollywood to remake their successful British sitcom, only to find themselves forced to contend with network executives replacing the British lead with LeBlanc. For his efforts, LeBlanc received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and a Golden Globe win. Between seasons of "Episodes," LeBlanc starred opposite Ali Larter in the indie romantic comedy "Lovesick" (2014). In early 2016, it was announced that LeBlanc, a lifelong car enthusiast, would be joining the revamped UK auto show "Top Gear" (BBC 2016- ) following the walkout of its previous hosts after the firing of host Jeremy Clarkson in 2015. Although the revamped show was well-received by fans, personality clashes between LeBlanc and co-host Chris Evans, a well-known British TV and radio personality, led to Evans' dismissal from the reboot following the first season. While filming "Top Gear," LeBlanc also returned to American TV as the star of "Man With A Plan" (CBS 2016- ), a family sitcom co-starring Liza Snyder and Kevin Nealon in which LeBlanc played a contractor who takes over parenting his three young kids after his wife returns to work.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting at the age of 17.
TV series debut, "TV 101" (credited as Matthew LeBlanc)
TV-movie debut, "Anything to Survive" (ABC)
Co-starred as Vinnie Verducci on Fox's short-lived "Married...With Children" spinoff "Top of the Heap"
Co-starred on the short-lived "Top of the Heap" spinoff, "Vinnie and Bobby" (Fox)
Appeared in two Showtime "Rebel Highway" movies, "Motorcycle Gang" and "Reform School Girl"
Played loveable goof Joey Tribbiani on the hit NBC ensemble sitcom "Friends"
Feature debut, "Ed"
Played fighter pilot Don West in the feature version of "Lost in Space"
Made uncredited cameo appearance as Lucy Liu's love interest in the feature "Charlie's Angels"
Cast as Lucy Liu's love interest in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle"
Starred in "All the Queen's Men" as an American who leads a team of British agents in obtaining a coding device
Reprised role of Joey Tribbiani on NBC's "Joey," a spin-off from the award winning sitcom "Friends"
Played the fictitious TV star (and "Friends" alum) named Matt LeBlanc on the Showtime series "Episodes"
Began starring in the CBS comedy "Man with a Plan"
Became a presenter on the TV series <i>Top Gear</i>.