Inside the turbocharged, cash-drenched, pinch-me-I'm-dreaming world of this season's 'Friends' MVP.

By Dan Snierson
May 03, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • TV Show

”There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” declares Matt LeBlanc, navigating his seal gray Porsche 996 through the palm-lined streets of Los Angeles one crisp spring eve. ”I wish a hit TV show on everyone I care about, because it’s just too good to be true.”

He grins and scans his surroundings. ”Here’s what’s great about this car,” he says, shifting gears. ”Watch.” A rich roar rises from the belly of the beast as the 996 perfectly hugs the turn like a killer coaster at Six Flags, plastering a certain reporter against his sleek leather seat. ”Can you hear the turbo?” he asks proudly. ”It’s like a full-on videogame car.”

No kidding. A few blocks later, it feels like LeBlanc is beta-testing Gran Turismo 4. Whoosh! There goes the neighborhood. And that one, too. Deftly downshifting for a yield sign, he peers uneasily into his rearview mirror: ”I hope that’s not a police car.” Alas, it is the blue-light special. ”Crap,” LeBlanc mumbles, gingerly braking to a stop.

”License and registration,” says the cop, poking a flashlight in the window.

”Officer, I’m sorry about that,” responds LeBlanc with sincere deference, handing over his documents. ”We were doing an interview and I was showing him my twin-turbo Porsche. I promise it won’t happen again.”

”That’s the problem with these cars,” the cop admonishes while studying LeBlanc’s license. But instead of issuing a citation, he simply delivers the take-it-a-little-more-slowly-out-there speech.

As the cop returns to his patrol car, LeBlanc offers a boy-that-was-close head shake. ”I don’t want you to think I got out of that ticket because I’m Matt LeBlanc,” he says. ”Now if I’m Jennifer Aniston, I get out of the ticket. But that was just luck.”

Oh, come on. He may not have inspired a national hairdo craze or married one of Hollywood’s hottest movie stars, but LeBlanc — the man behind Friends’ lovable lunkheaded lothario Joey — doesn’t exactly have to depend on the kindness of leprechauns. ”Our writers are good,” observes Lisa Kudrow, ”but not many actors would be able to bring that kind of sincerity to that level of dumb-ass.” Indeed, thanks to this season’s bold story line in which Joey proclaims his love to a pregnant Rachel (only to get rebuffed and have to watch her edge back to Ross), LeBlanc, 34, is finally getting his day in the sun. Suddenly, ”the most underrated Friend” (as series cocreator Marta Kauffman calls him) has emerged as the show’s go-to goof, its most consistent laugh grabber, and its warm caramelly center all rolled into one. ”He’s arguably the funniest person on the show,” enthuses Matthew Perry. Or, to put it a slightly different way: ”Matt LeBlanc is the funniest mother-blank-blank,” says Aniston. ”And he’s truly the sweetheart of the group.” So what does the man of the half hour — who lives with fiancee Melissa McKnight and her two kids, Tyler, 11, and Jacquelyn, 7 — have to say for himself? Check out this revealing Q&A, during which all traffic laws were strictly obeyed.