LIVERPOOL — Matt LeBlanc, Chris Evans and the rest of the hosting team at the revamped motoring-show “Top Gear” rolled into Liverpool on Monday to be presented to the 700 international buyers at the BBC Worldwide Showcase sales event.
Speaking to journalists before a party to celebrate the relaunch, LeBlanc said that his and Evans’ approach to the business was similar. “He and I seem to be hitting it off. We were like good friends right off the bat. We’ve been having a really good time. He’s very collaborative,” LeBlanc said. “I think his philosophy is like mine: you leave your ego at the door and you go in and do your job.”
LeBlanc pushed back at the description of him as a “superstar,” and downplayed his role on the show. “I have a very blue-collar work ethic,” he said. “I’m a big fan of the original ‘Top Gear.’ It is like this giant ship that is sailing along, and presenters will come and go. Chris and I will enjoy our time here, and it’s fun to come on board. And there’s a new shape to it now, and there’s a new energy about it, and it is interesting to be part of the evolution of that. I feel like I have a voice in it, but I have a voice among some really, really smart voices, which is nice, and that’s what ‘Friends’ was like too.”
“Top Gear” is new, unscripted, territory for LeBlanc, but he’s up for the challenge. “It is loosely scripted, but there’s a lot of leash with that. You can bend things a little bit,” LeBlanc said. “It also depends on the environment. When we were shooting the film we just did, there’s not a lot of controlled environments — there’s a lot variables — so the words need to bend to fit that.” He added: “Chris is quick on his feet, as am I.”
The team is given an outline, LeBlanc said, which is “well crafted.” “We don’t go too off of that — that idea that we set out with, there are story points along the way. And we’re telling the story — we tell it this way or tell it that way, but it’s basically the same thing,” he said.
LeBlanc added that whereas Evans is immersed in the world of classic cars, and the other hosts are the real car experts, “My thing is more about — when we do the films — to try to find the fun and the funny, and I’m always pitching jokes, and they’re like, ‘Jeez, we got to talk about the car’… I think my leash is going to be getting short really quickly.”
LeBlanc lives in the U.S. still, but has another season of “Episodes” to shoot in the U.K., which he’ll be filming while doing “Top Gear.” He also has a pilot to shoot for CBS, multi-camera comedy “I’m Not Your Friend.” If that gets ordered to series, LeBlanc’s commitments will begin to stack up. “I think I can do both. There’s enough time. The schedule on a multi-cam comedy in front of an audience is convenient enough and this schedule is adjustable enough, because it is so international that we’ll be able to work it out and do both,” he says.
“Top Gear” already has many fans in the U.S. through BBC America, but with LeBlanc on board, there is the chance to grow that audience. “This is an opportunity to broaden the audience in the U.S.,” he said. “America is a very fickle place. We have a lot of things to choose from on television. A lot of it is junk and some of it is great – and hopefully this will be the latter. In my opinion this is the best car show in the world.”