'There's less pressure on me'

Studio 60 was your first big TV role since Friends ended in 2004. Why this and why now? I wasn't looking to do anything in particular when I heard Aaron Sorkin had written this script about the antics of a late-night comedy show. I read it at...

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Published: Fri 27 Jul 2007, 11:01 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:43 PM

pe2am in New York and by 3.30am I'd decided I probably was going to do another TV show.

Were you on the lookout for a totally different role from Chandler?

After being on a show that was so successful for so long you want to change it up a bit. I found the quickest way of doing that? I saw some episodes of The West Wing and called John Wells (producer) and said, could I be on the show? I'd always wanted to explore being a bit more serious, and fortunately those shows were well received. (Perry won an Emmy for his guest role). Aaron and Tommy (Schlamme, executive producer) were pleased with my performance and had me in mind when they wrote this character.

Did you find yourself slipping back into Chandler-isms every now and again?

We were shooting something where two people creep up on me and say my name, and my tendency is to do a huge scare take, you know? But I'm not going to do that, because it's too reminiscent of Chandler. I said in the very beginning, if you're seeing a lot of Chandler here I'm not doing my job. It's a fine line because my character Matt's a funny guy, he's a comedy writer, and there are also times when he's creating where he can be kind of goofball, which I like. But you can do that without being the kind of neurotic, over-the-top character that Chandler was.

Was there pressure to follow Friends with something as big?

There's less pressure on me because I'm just not putting that pressure on myself. I've been on the least-watched show in the history of television (Second Chance, in 1987) and the most-watched (Friends) and none of it really did what I thought it was going to do to my life. So I just keep myself completely out of it. I guess if I was paying attention then maybe I'd think, this has to be as successful as my last show, but I just have not and will not sign up to that kind of thinking. Plus, I'm too exhausted.

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