Matt LeBlanc knows quite a bit about playing a struggling actor. Like his alter ego Joey Tribbiani, Matt too once toiled playing bit parts in forgettable dramas. That was before Friends aired in 50 countries worldwide and landed his now-famous face on everything from magazine covers to coffee mugs.
Matt was born on July 25, 1967, in Newton, Massachusetts. As a young boy he fell in love with motorcycles, but his concerned mum suggested he find another outlet for entertainment. That new outlet was acting and quickly became his new passion.
Shortly after graduating from Newton North High School in 1985, Matt set his sights on the Big Apple. He moved to New York and, low on cash, used his considerable charm to convince two stewardesses he had a massive trust fund and that they should take him in. Seduced by the heart-throb, they did.
Matt went on to star in an award-winning commercial for Heinz ketchup, as well as in spots for Coca-Cola and Doritos to pay the bills. Bit parts in movies like Lookin' Italian co-starring Canadian chanteuse Alanis Morissette followed, as did roles in Vinnie & Bobby on the small screen.
Hollywood casting directors assumed he was just a pretty face, however, and cast him time and again as an Italian stud. (For the record, he's of Italian, French, English, Irish and Dutch descent.) It took the team behind Friends to discover that Matt isn't just eye candy. He's funny, too!
The 5ft 11in hunk parlayed his early success with Friends into starring roles in a handful of silver screen clunkers, including the simian comedy Ed and the high-profile $70 million bomb Lost In Space. But after a hilarious turn as Lucy Liu's boy toy in Charlie's Angels, the offers may start to flow in again.
As for his off-screen love life, Matt found romance with model Melissa McKnight, who became his wife in May, 2003. While he once lived by the mantra "Girlfriends come and go, but my mum will always be there for me" in Melissa he found his true love.
"My buddy Michael Douglas told me, 'Marriage is the way to go'," says Matt. "And I agree with him 100 per cent. There were times when I ran around town chasing skirts, but those days are over... Every day I go to work with a spring in my step. It's down to Melissa and the stability I've found in our family unit. Some of my buddies ask if I yearn for the good old days. They laugh when I tell them, 'The good new days are better'." However in 2006, citing irreconcilable differences, the pair started divorce proceedings.