It’s been 10 years since Matt LeBlanc starred in a primetime sitcom, but he’s back in action on Global’s new Monday night comedy, Man With a Plan. The Golden Globe Award-winner and former Friends star takes on an entirely new role as a father who takes over parenting duties when his wife (Liza Snyder) goes back to work after 13 years of being a stay-at-home mom. Global caught up with LeBlanc to hear all about his Plan and take on the new series.
How does it feel to return to network television after 10 years and star in a traditional sitcom?
It feels great! I took about five years off to spend time with my family and enjoy life prior to Episodes which kind of wet my whistle to go back to work, but it was such a limited schedule and I wanted to work more. So I got together with my team and with the help of Jeff and Jackie Filgo, we developed a sitcom because I missed that live audience experience and linear-chronological storytelling element of a multi-cam format and now here we are.
It’s a lot of fun being in front of a crowd again because it’s a great soundboard for the material – is the story tracking, do the jokes work, are they funny, are they not funny – and a live audience definitely tells you if the jokes are working or not.
What drew you to the role? Why a TV dad? Why this particular show?
“In my whole career I’ve never played a guy in a relationship nor have I played a parent and being a parent myself, I thought it was time to share that part of my life and inject that into a character.”
Jeff and Jackie who wrote the show, they’re parents as well and have a really funny take on parenting; so we sort of jelled really quickly and when they gave me the script, I thought it was great. I get along really well with them. They’re really collaborative but also have a strong opinion of what the show should be and it coincides with what I think.
It’s not a high concept show. It’s a very easy to understand concept and I think it’s that sort of slice of dinged life told in a funny way which is what I was after and I think we’re on track. We’ll see if people respond to it or not – that’s all out of my control. We just make the best show that we know how and if people enjoy it, that’s great.
Being a father of a pre-teen yourself, did this influence you to take this role?
With my life experiences being a father and the age I am, this felt like the next logical step for me because I really enjoy being a dad. Kids say the funniest things sometimes. They have no filter and you can try to anticipate what they want or what they want to hear and so often you’re completely wrong. I think it’s just a funny aspect to that, I think it’s a struggle always. Parenting has become sort of PC in this world so I thought it would be funny to play a guy who’s not so PC in a very PC parenting world.
Does your parenting style differ from Adam’s?
I like to think I’m a little more adept at handling parenting tasks then Adam. Although, I think you need to be a little zanier to make it work in television but we certainly do look alike.
What were your top favourite moments working on the show?
One of my favourite things is just playing a dad. I’m a dad in real life so just to be able to bring that aspect of it to television has been fun.
Working with Liza Snyder who plays my wife is really great. She’s very funny and she’s got a lot of sitcom experience; she was on Yes, Dear for six years and Jesse for two or three.
Working with Kevin Nealon who plays my brother because he’s really funny. It’s very hard to keep a straight face around him. He’s hysterical and he really knows his way around a joke.
One of the high points is being reunited with James Burrows (Friends). He directed the pilot as well as most of the first season and I really have a soft spot in my heart for that guy – he’s genuinely awesome and he’s really the master of that format – he really is. I really enjoy the process with him. He’s very smart and I learn something new from him every day.
Are there any specific scenes or moments that stand out for you?
Yea, there are but I’d rather not say. I don’t want to spoil anything. There’s some really funny stuff and some laugh out loud moments.
“Like Friends was, it has heart and it’s not just set-up joke after set-up joke. There’s an emotional through-line through it and hopefully that resonates with audiences.”