Erstwhile “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc says he had a near-breakdown during an emotionally draining few years after his solo sitcom flopped, his marriage dissolved and his daughter was diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
“For years and years, I barely left the house,” LeBlanc, 48, told the British newspaper the Daily Mirror. “I was burnt out. I wanted to not have a schedule, not be somewhere. I was in a position to do that. My agent was bummed. Most actors call their agents and say, ‘What’s going on?’ I’d call mine and say, ‘Please lose my number for a few years.’ It was a very dark time. I almost had a nervous breakdown.”
The actor’s ordeal began in the mid-2000s. His 2003 marriage to former model Melissa McKnight quickly unraveled and on Jan. 18, 2006, LeBlanc announced to McKnight that he was vacating their Encino, California, home, a move that also affected his wife’s children Jacquelyn and Tyler from her first marriage. And LeBlanc’s “Friends” spinoff, “Joey,” did not gain traction and was canceled after two seasons, airing its last original episode that March 6.
Most devastating, his and McKnight’s daughter, Marina, who celebrates her 12th birthday on Monday, began suffering seizures at 8 months old, affecting her motor skills so severely she could not sit up, and while crawling kept tumbling over to her left. After three months of tests, she was diagnosed with cortical dysplasia, a congenital condition in which the brain’s neuron signals misfire, triggering a seizure. Treatments range from anticonvulsants to surgery.
“My daughter was diagnosed with a problem with her head,” LeBlanc told the Mirror. “It was a very dark period. But I got through it.” He did not specify what, if any, treatments his daughter received, but by age 2 she was hitting normal developmental milestones, according to People magazine in 2006.
LeBlanc and his ex-wife divorced amicably and share custody of Marina, who spends alternate weeks with each parent. He and his daughter continue to share a strong bond, the “Episodes” star and new “Top Gear” host told the paper. “We make breakfast, go horseback riding, hiking, I really try to offset this computer age kid thing that’s going on now with as much time outside,” he said, later adding, “Spending time with her is the best thing I’ve ever done. We have a great bond and it’s the best thing in my life.”