Attention universe, one of your favorite Friends almost made their sitcom comeback in Modern Family. In an interview with USA Today, Matt LeBlanc reveals he was offered the role of Phil Dunphy. That's right, Joey Tribbiani could have played the lovable, goofball patriarch of the Dunphy family, and it would have been amazing — even if LeBlanc doesn't agree.
LeBlanc told USA Today,
"I remember reading it thinking, this is a really good script, (but) I'm not the guy for this. I'd be doing the project an injustice to take this. I know what I can do, I know what I can’t do. Plus, I'm having too much fun laying on the couch."
The Friends star knows his abilities better than anyone else, so it's probably for the best that he didn't take the role. After all, he revealed that he sensed the role was written with another actor in mind, and he was right. The Modern Family producers wanted Ty Burrell, but ABC wasn't completely on board with the idea yet.
Had LeBlanc taken the role, a different version of Phil would surely have emerged, one that was a better fit for the actor's sensibilities. Still, it's hard not to get excited by the thought of LeBlanc being part of the Dunphy-Pritchett family. After 10 years of playing Joey, the actor could have returned to TV as the hilarious, magic-loving Phil. It's OK to feel a little robbed, but there's also no doubt things worked out the way they were supposed to when you remember that Burrell is a two-time Emmy winner, and nine-time nominee for his role.
Burrell captures Phil's unique sense of wonder and cheese ball humor flawlessly. He's made the character the ultimate "uncool" cool dad. Phil is always ready with a bad pun and a hug for his wife and kids, and even as the show has moved past its prime, Burrell remains a bright spot.
There's no way to know what kind of character LeBlanc's Phil would have turned out to be, but that's beside the point. The truly frustrating part of this news is the revelation that the actor could have made his network TV comeback in another sitcom juggernaut, instead of, you know, Man With a Plan. The tired CBS comedy just doesn't do justice to the actor's talent. You could have been on Modern Family, LeBlanc. There's no way for his fans not to feel at least a little bummed that he turned down the role, no matter how awesome Burrell is.
On the upside, Burrell has turned Phil into a comedy character that is almost as iconic as Joey, so clearly LeBlanc made the right choice. But that doesn't mean Friends devotees should feel bad about mourning what might have been.