After spending 10 years in the role of Chandler Bing, Matthew Perry’s return to a multi-camera sitcom could have been daunting.
But the actor maintains that working on CBS’ The Odd Couple reboot has allowed him to check an item off the bucket list.
“It’s been a dream come true to play Oscar Madison,” Perry said Monday at the Television Critics’ Association winter press tour in Pasadena. “It’s been big shoes to fill, but we’re playing it differently.”
But that’s not to say Perry doesn’t get nervous, even after more than 200 episodes in front of a live audience on Friends.
“You’d think after 25 years of doing this, I wouldn’t sweat profusely if a joke doesn’t work, but I still do,” Perry confessed. “I ham it up because there’s an audience.”
Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!) will play uptight Felix Unger opposite Perry’s slobby Oscar. Even though Neil Simon’s play originally hit Broadway in 1965, executive producer Bob Daily says the show’s premise — and its central characters — are an “elastic concept.”
“The DNA of those two characters has seeped into television for the last four decades,” Daily said. “Those two characters are so iconic, they’re so timeless. It’s been 45 years, and I think it’s time for a reinterpretation for a generation that’s not familiar with The Odd Couple.”
For Perry, returning to a live sitcom — after his short-lived series Mr. Sunshine and Go On were cancelled — is an opportunity to do what he loves most.
“[Mr. Sunshine and Go On] aspired to be something different, which was cool,” Perry said. “But we’re just trying to be funny. We’re just trying to make people laugh.”
The Odd Couple bows Thursday, Feb. 19 at 8:30/7:30c.
Will you get to know The Odd Couple this winter? Hit the comments!