It is sometimes said that life imitates art and this timeless adage certainly holds true in the case of Matt LeBlanc. For several years, the American actor held sway as the dim-witted but lovable ladies’ man, Joey Tribbiani, on the hit sitcom, Friends. LeBlanc’s portrayal of the good-natured womanizer endeared him to national and global audiences. It also brought him several accolades including three Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Away from the screens, Matt also seemed to be a real-life lothario and this fact played a pivotal part in the crashing of his very first marriage. Here’s the true story.
Matt Leblanc’s Rise From Commercials To An Iconic TV Star
Matthew Steven LeBlanc was born on July 25, 1967, in Newton, Massachusetts. He grew up in Newton and attended the Newton North High School. While there, he was classmates with popular comedian, Louis CK, and they both graduated in 1985. Right after high school graduation, Matt dived into show business, starting as a model. He appeared in a commercial for Heinz Tomato Ketchup in 1987 and by 1988, scored his first major acting gig in the TV series, TV 101. He went on to land roles in other TV shows, such as Married… with Children, Vinnie & Bobby, and Class of ’96, before landing his big break on Friends.
Friends was an NBC sitcom that chronicled the reckless adventures of six pals living in Manhattan. The series debuted in 1994 and featured an ensemble cast comprising of Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer. Matt LeBlanc was also a major cast member and portrayed the clueless hunk, Joey Tribbiani. Friends ran for a total of ten seasons and 236 episodes, and LeBlanc appeared in every single one of them. His performances catapulted him to global stardom.
It also fetched him many accolades including three consecutive Primetime Emmy nominations for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series. Asides the fame and critical praise, Friends was also financially rewarding. LeBlanc and his co-stars earned $22,500 per episode in the first season of the sitcom. This amount increased to $75,000, $125,000, and $750,000 per episode for seasons 3, 6 and 7 respectively. For the final season in 2004, LeBlanc and his fellow amigos pocketed $1.3 million for each episode. This still remains the highest paycheck ever received by TV actors in America.
His Post-Friends Work
Following the end of Friends in 2004, Matt LeBlanc launched his own-spinoff show titled Joey. The series failed to gain much traction and was canceled after just two years. This disappointment, in addition to some personal issues, left the actor burnt out. He, therefore, embarked on an unplanned but much-needed hiatus from Hollywood between 2006 and 2010. The Newton native subsequently returned in 2011 and proved that he still had his mojo as he quickly brought unmatched entertainment to the small screen in the form of the Showtime/BBC comedy series, Episodes.
Episodes ran for five seasons, 2011-2017, during which LeBlanc basically portrayed a fictionalized version of himself. His performance fetched him a Golden Globe Award for Best leading Actor and set the stage for his next show, Man with a Plan, which premiered on CBS in October 2016. In addition to these successful TV shows, LeBlanc has had a handful of feature film appearances most notably in Charlie’s Angels (2000) and its 2003 sequel. The Friends alum also hosted popular British motoring magazine, Top Gear, from 2016 to 2019. He, however, left the show to be able to spend more time with his family.
Matt’s Family Life And Marital Problems With Melissa McKnight
Speaking of family, Matt LeBlanc was previously married to the British-American model, Melissa McKnight. The two first crossed paths in 1997 after they were introduced by mutual friends in the showbiz industry. They started dating and got engaged in 1998. They subsequently tied the knot, five years later, in 2003 in a magical twilight ceremony held in Hawaii. The guest list included Friends’ stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow. It also featured McKnight’s two children from her previous marriage namely son, Tyler, and daughter, Jacqueline. Following the nuptials, LeBlanc and McKnight settled down to family life in their Encino ranch. The actor happily acted as a stepfather to Tyler and Jacqueline and they also welcomed a daughter, named Marina, in 2004.
Marina suffered from a few health challenges and this put a strain on the family. The whole situation was further compounded after a drunken LeBlanc was spotted groping a stripper during a vacation in British Columbia in August 2005. The actor apologized for his actions and McKnight forgave him. They continued living as a family up until January 2006 when LeBlanc packed out of the family home without much warning. He subsequently hooked up with actress, and his Joey co-star, Andrea Anders. The whole affair shocked McKnight but she was reportedly willing to salvage her wobbling marriage. Her husband, however, refused and instead filed for divorce in April 2006. The divorce was finalized in December of that same year and the couple got joint legal and physical custody of Marina. They waived spousal support but Leblanc agreed to pay 15,000 monthly child support, as well as medical, childcare, and school tuition for his daughter.
Here’s The Latest About Him
Matt LeBlanc and Anders remained together for nearly a decade (2006-2014). They however later went their separate ways in 2014. The Friends star is now in a budding relationship with BBC presenter, Aurora Mulligan. Mulligan is a native of Northern Ireland and was born in the year 1985. She studied political science and government at Liverpool University and has worked for various British TV stations. Leblanc and Aurora first met in the course of his work as Top Gear host in 2016. They have been together ever since then and their love shows no signs of waning.
Another great love of LeBlanc’s life is his daughter, Marina. Marina was diagnosed with cortical dysplasia, (a devastating condition that can affect the brain, bones, and motor skills), at the age of two. She luckily outgrew the condition and now lives a normal life, hiking and going horseback riding with her superstar dad. Matt LeBlanc has meanwhile confessed that spending time with her is the best thing that he has ever done and that nothing will make him stop loving her, not even if she were to crash his Ferrari.