'Episodes' star comforted by working with Crane

Matt LeBlanc can’t help but laugh when he recalls his incredulous response to the pitch for “Episodes”: “What do you mean I’d be playing myself?”

“I was skeptical and a little tentative in the beginning,” the actor admits of portraying a filthy rich but morally bankrupt version of himself in Showtime’s biting Hollywood satire. “It took me a moment to get my head around that.”

In the end, though, he opted to put his trust in the comedy’s co-creator Jeffrey Klarik and his partner, former “Friends” producer David Crane, with whom LeBlanc previously worked for 10 years.

“Because there’s this history between us, I could 100% commit,” the actor says. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to do what they say.’ They’re incredibly smart and the economy of their writing is so good.”

It turned out to be LeBlanc’s wisest career move since the days of Central Perk. As the cunning star who slowly comes between the married producers who are trying to adapt their Brit hit for American TV, LeBlanc made the year’s most uproarious comeback and, in the process, proved himself to be an incredibly good sport.

“It was an awesome opportunity,” he says. “I had a blast and just sort of lost myself in it.”

So just how similar is real LeBlanc to the screen version? Even now, he isn’t saying.

“There are differences and similarities, but it’s kind of irrelevant,” he says. “Are people drawn in by the character? Is it funny? Are they laughing? That’s all that really matters.”

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: THE ACTOR
Antiheroes and the actors who love them | Actors always playing the bridesmaid | Prior noms hope to repeat | Actors in Emmy contention
Lead Actor Contenders
Sean Bean | Steve Buscemi | Jeremy Irons | Matt LeBlanc |

Andrew Lincoln | Louis C.K. | William H. Macy | Tom Selleck

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