He’s still the same old Friend, but Matt LeBlanc, 37, is running with a new crowd this fall. “Change can be good,” says the actor, whose spinoff Joey drops him in L.A. with supporting players Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos) and Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) as his sister and agent, respectively. LeBlanc recently talked about adjusting to solo sitcom life, and how he’s handled another new addition: his 7-month-old, Marina.
How’s solo sitcom life?
Well, it seems like there is more pressure, but Friends was always a high-pressure environment from day one because it had been successful. So a lot of people were watching, (and) so I am kind of used to the pressure.
What was it like at first to be Joey without Chandler?
It was a little weird. When we first got to the stage, I kept waiting for the door to open and Chandler to walk in. And as the week went on, I really got comfortable with these new voices there, and it feels like a place (where) we are going to have a lot of fun.
Is Joey fitting into L.A. okay?
I believe he is a fish out of water in Los Angeles. I mean, he’s from New York. His whole world is there. Speaking for myself, I am from Boston. When I first came to L.A. it was an adjustment. It’s a different kind of town and that will be fun to experience through his eyes.
What happened when you first moved there?
I was constantly getting lost. I found myself doing more things outdoors. I got back into things I did when I was younger, like I would go up to the mountains. I got back into going camping. I got back in to riding my motorcycle again. It is a much more user-friendly outdoor environment than New York.
So have you tried to make other cast members feel comfortable?
I tried to make Drea comfortable, slap her around. (Laughs)
How did you feel about the Friends finale?
My own reaction to it was it was like getting a divorce from someone you are still in love with. It was very sad. I feel like I grew up there. I could go on for an hour …
With a hit show, a beautiful wife (former model Melissa) and a new baby, is it all that you had imagined?
I keep waiting for the roof to cave in. I was raised to follow the Golden Rule, you know? Treat people the way you want to be treated. That’s kind of the way I live my life. Maybe someone up there likes me for that, I don’t know. I just try to do the right thing and work hard.
Having kids has been great for me. I have two beautiful stepkids, as well as my own new daughter. They have really helped to keep my feet firmly on the ground, and so life is good. I can’t complain. I feel like I am the luckiest guy here.