A new episode for Matt LeBlanc

A new episode for Joey from Friends
A new episode for Joey from Friends
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Wolfing down some bacon and eggs and looking very much alive, Matt LeBlanc is recalling the moment he learnt of his own death.

It was the mid-Nineties and the actor had achieved heart-throb status as dim-but-loveable Joey Tribbiani in Friends, when he took an early morning call from his publicist.

24/04/2014 File photo of Matt LeBlanc during filming of the Graham Norton Show, at the London Studios, central London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening. See PA Feature TV LeBlanc. Picture credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TV LeBlanc. UK REGIONAL PAPERS AND MAGAZINES, PLEASE REMOVE FROM ALL COMPUTERS AND ARCHIVES BY19/05/2014.

24/04/2014 File photo of Matt LeBlanc during filming of the Graham Norton Show, at the London Studios, central London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening. See PA Feature TV LeBlanc. Picture credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TV LeBlanc. UK REGIONAL PAPERS AND MAGAZINES, PLEASE REMOVE FROM ALL COMPUTERS AND ARCHIVES BY19/05/2014.

“I answered the phone and she said, ‘Thank God you’re alive! There was a rumour that you died of an overdose in a nightclub last night’.”

Immediately, the star thought of his mother.

“I called her and said, ‘Are you watching the news?’ ...Can you imagine?” he exclaims.

It’s been 10 years since cultural phenomenon Friends wrapped, but LeBlanc is still capable of generating headlines - most recently when he was papped at an unflattering angle on a night out in London.

“They said I’m going bald. It was like, ‘Awesome, you gotta write something bad’,” says the actor, who retains the good looks that made him a pin-up, even if his now-silver hair is less thick than two decades ago.

“It’s like, ‘Come on, you can’t say something nice?’ But I guess it’s dirty laundry, right? That’s what people want to read about.”

The dad-of-one adds: “I’m 46. You can’t fight Mother Nature.”

LeBlanc isn’t precious enough to complain for long about the intrusion into his private life (“It’ll never change, so you just deal with it”).

Nor does he mind fans greeting him with Joey’s catchphrase, ‘How you doin’?’ (“I made a lot of money on that show and laughed my ass off all day long...”).

In fact, he decided to play on the public’s perception and poke fun at his image by signing up for TV comedy Episodes, in which he plays an egotistical, manipulative version of himself.

He did have some initial misgivings - “I wasn’t sure about exposing my life” - but the bold move paid off.

The BBC Two sitcom - which is written by Friends co-creator David Crane and his partner Jeffrey Klarik - is now entering its third series, and has earned LeBlanc a Golden Globe for his deliciously self-centred performance.

The show also stars British actors Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig as Sean and Beverly, a husband and wife who have decamped to Los Angeles to write the scripts for a LeBlanc sitcom.

Not much is off-limits. In series one, Matt slept with Beverly.

In series two, he had a one-night stand with a stalker and an affair with his network executive’s wife.

And in the first episode of series three, we see him arrested for drink-driving with his (fictional) kids in the back seat.

LeBlanc won’t reveal how many of his real traits are reflected in his Episodes character, preferring to “leave it as a mystery”.

But the pair seem fairly different (thankfully!).

While the LeBlanc of Episodes probably wouldn’t think twice about tucking into his breakfast during an interview - or washing it down with a bottle of champagne - the real life version has to be persuaded to start eating, asking,

“Wouldn’t that be rude?” LeBlanc is serious and quietly spoken at first, but he soon warms up.

As he displays his deadpan humour and drops the occasional swear word, you quickly forget you’re speaking to one of the most recognisable people on the planet.

“I don’t hang out with too many actors. I come from a very blue collar family - everyone goes to work with some kind of tool in their hand.

And people are people, I’m no different. I have bad breath in the morning when I get up and when I take a s***, it stinks,” he reasons, laughing. “I put my pants on one leg at a time. I’m not better than anyone else.”