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Matt LeBlanc Had a Hard Time Accepting Fame After 'Friends'

Gettyimages | CBS Photo Archive
By Emily Reily

They Served Up Laughs For Years

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Even though Matt LeBlanc and his lovable "Friends" character, Joey, were practically household names in the '90s, it didn't mean the actor wasn't susceptible to personal setbacks and struggles.

While "Friends" star Jennifer Aniston has been the most in the public eye since her role as Rachel Green, followed by her female co-stars Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow, the guys (David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and LeBlanc) didn't have as much success.

They found work in TV movies, films, and short-lived series, but the jump from super-stardom to just a regular guy was rough on LeBlanc.

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Before he became uber-famous from "Friends," LeBlanc found bit parts in music videos, such as for Alanis Morissette's "Walk Away," Bob Seger's "Night Moves," and Tom Petty's “Into the Great Wide Open." He also appeared in the already successful sitcom, "Married With Children," and could be seen in "The Red Shoe Diaries" on HBO.

Eleven Bucks

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LeBlanc told "Today" in 2015 that despite all that, before he hit it big, he had just $11 to his name. He admits that was cutting it far too close for comfort.

“That’s holding out too long. Because even if I said at that point, ‘All right, I’m going to go get a waiter job,’ by the time that $11 ran out, it would have been before the first paycheck on that job. I would have starved.”

Thankfully, no such thing happened. He then got the part of Joey, the "how you doin' " struggling actor who lived with Chandler, watched a lot of "Baywatch," and had no trouble getting dates.

All Played Out

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After "Friends" wrapped, LeBlanc got that "Joey" spinoff, which lasted just a couple seasons. After that happened, though, LeBlanc went through some personal crises.

According to Mental Floss, LeBlanc became withdrawn and was nearing a nervous breakdown.

“For years and years, I barely left the house. I was burnt out. I wanted to not have a schedule, not be somewhere. I was in a position to do that. My agent was bummed. Most actors call their agents and say, ‘What’s going on?’. I’d call mine and say, ‘Please lose my number for a few years.’ It was a very dark time. I almost had a nervous breakdown.”

His marriage also ended, and his daughter had serious health issues.

Taking the Next Step

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More recently he landed parts on Showtime's "Episodes," which lasted five seasons, and was a host on "Top Gear." Now as we near the "Friends" reunion special on HBO, we're seeing a bit more of LeBlanc.

He's been popping up in casual group pics with the rest of the former "Friends," giving us hope that the gang never really left us in the first place, they just went on a lengthy vacation -- the one where Rachel and Ross were "on a break."

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