Friends Star Matt LeBlanc Got Major Advice On How To Play Joey From This Co-Star

“That was the moment he turned from being a ladies’ man to a lovable, useless, dumb puppy.”

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FRIENDS -- "The One with the Flashback" Episode 6 -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani...
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Matt LeBlanc’s hilarious performance as Joey Tribbiani made the character a household name. The out-of-work actor and goofball of a ladies’ man didn’t come to be without the help of his Friends co-star’s advice. Matthew Perry writes in his memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing about how LeBlanc discovered exactly how to be Joey thanks to a conversation LeBlanc had with Courteney Cox about a relationship gone awry.

“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 writes, adding that LeBlanc was struggling to develop 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.”

LeBlanc’s a-ha moment came when chatting with Cox on set, Perry recalls, about a woman he was dating and wasn’t connecting with. “Courteney asks him if he’s thought of being there for the girl, and Joey just simply doesn’t understand the concept. That was the moment he 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.”

After the Joey we love today was born, Perry says LeBlanc would ask for him for help with his lines. “But he gets Most Improved Player because by Season 10, I was going into his room and asking him how he would say certain of my lines,” Perry remembers, praising LeBlanc’s acting. He was ultimately nominated for three Emmys and three Golden Globes for his role in Friends.

Years after the show, LeBlanc reflected on Joey’s intelligence. “For me, he was never ‘dumb,’” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. “For me, he was always just incorrect. He had his own sort of parallel-universe stream of logic.” He also said that regardless of how smart Joey was, it was impossible to hate him, calling him “that guy everybody wanted to hang out with.”

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