Matt LeBlanc admits to Gold Derby he resisted the idea of “Friends” co-creator David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik to spoof his image on the Showtime series “Episodes.” “They pitched me the whole first season, not just the first episode. They had it all plotted out in their minds. I initially balked on the the fact that I’d be playing myself. Once they explained we’re not doing a documentary, it’s a fictitious character, it started to get interesting.”
The comedy mines laughs from the misadventures of two English transplants (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) in Hollywood as they see their Brit hit about a curmudgeonly schoolteacher turned into a vehicle for LeBlanc. Says the actor, who showed himself in a less-than-flattering light, “It’s more or less the public’s perception of celebrity than it is really who I am.” He came to fame playing Joey Tribbiani on “Friends” for a decade beginning in 1994. LeBlanc contended for Best Comedy Actor for the last three seasons, losing to Ray Romano (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”), and Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”) respectively.
Our experts and editors agree that LeBlanc is in the running again this year, although they give the edge in the race to sentimental favorite Steve Carell who is winless after five bids for “The Office.” If he is nominated, LeBlanc will choose between the season finale and the fourth episode where he tangles with the paparazzi and takes an all-night road trip.
Other performers have reaped Emmy bids for playing exaggerated versions of themselves, including Comedy Actor contenders Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Jerry Seinfeld (“Seinfeld”) and Guest Comedy nominees Carol Burnett, Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, and David Duchovny for “The Larry Sanders Show” and Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, and Kate Winslet for “Extras.” Emma Thompson won Guest Comedy Actress in 1998 for playing herself on “Ellen” — the twist there was that she was really an American only pretending to be British.