The iconic sitcom Friends had a stellar cast of characters, and each one had its own special charm. How can we forget the lovable and dimwitted Joey Tribbiani, played by Matt LeBlanc? He was adored by millions of fans all over the world. However, the three-time Primetime Emmy Award-nominated star battled his own demons and insecurities regarding the importance of his character in the show behind the scenes.
Joey appeared as the stereotypical Italian-American guy who appeared in many movies and TV shows set in New York City when NBC’s Friends debuted in 1994. However, as the series progressed and LeBlanc immersed himself in the role, Joey evolved into something more.
However, because Joey was initially the dumbest one, LeBlanc found it difficult to fit in with the other characters and worried that he was portraying a “less believable” one.
Matt LeBlanc’s Internal Struggles in Finding His ‘Place’ in Friends
The main source of humor on David Crane and Marta Kauffman’s show unquestionably came from Matt LeBlanc‘s Joey Tribbiani, who had infectious energy and comic timing. Although this role brought the actor great fame, it also put a lot of stress on him. Thus, his Friends’ co-star’s advice was instrumental in helping him become a ladies’ man.
LeBlanc learned exactly how to be Joey thanks to a conversation he had with Courteney Cox (who played Monica Geller), according to Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing in Friends. The latter wrote in his autobiography Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing (via Bustle):
“Early on, Matt LeBlanc was concerned that because he was this kinda cool, macho, ladies’ man in the script, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe wouldn’t be friends with him, wouldn’t like him that much, and that made his character less believable.”
Perry, 54, added that LeBlanc was having trouble getting into the role:
“He was the one character in the show that had not been properly defined — he was described as a cool, [Al] Pacino-type, out-of-work actor, so that’s how he was playing it, but it still wasn’t working.”
The American-Canadian actor claimed that LeBlanc had an epiphany while talking to Cox on set about a woman he was dating but did not click with. Perry recalled as he wrote in his book:
“That was the moment he [Matt LeBlanc] turned from being a ladies’ man to a lovable, useless, dumb puppy. He underlined this by doing a running joke of things being repeated to him and him not following them. He had found his position in the show, which was basically as a big dumb brother to Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe. Everyone was in place.”
Matt LeBlanc’s Friends Reactions to Joey’s Intelligence Will Blow Your Mind
While it is simple to dismiss Joey Tribbiani from Friends as being stupid, Matt LeBlanc’s remarks about Joey’s intelligence, which were published by The Hollywood Reporter in 2018, will astound you. According to him
“For me, he was never ‘dumb’.For me, he was always just incorrect. He had his own sort of parallel-universe stream of logic.”
Putting aside the debate over Joey’s intelligence, it is undeniable that the character’s charm came from his personality. In his additional remarks to THR, LeBlanc said:
“Everybody wanted to be friends with Joey. He was that guy everybody wanted to hang out with. Girls liked him. Guys liked him.”
Enter Joey, the Friends spinoff that LeBlanc still stood by despite it being canceled in 2006 after only two seasons. He added the following to THR:
“The pressure was huge. I can’t lift the weight that six people were lifting. Those were big shoes to fill … I thought it was a good show, I really did. Was it Friends? No, it wasn’t — nothing would have been. But I was proud of it.”
He considered himself “very, very, very fortunate” to have played the role of Joey during the Friends era, for which he earned three Primetime Emmy nominations.
What about the Friends reunion?
Friends: The Reunion aired on HBO Max on May 27, 2021. Friends: The Reunion is currently streaming on the Max Amazon Channel while Friends is available on Max.