After three years of cohosting the very popular British TV show Top Gear, Matt LeBlanc has decided to say so long and move on, but the reason behind his decision is one that a lot of parents can relate to: he wants to spend more time with his daughter, Marina Pearl.
“I didn’t decide not to come back until after we’d finished making the series,” the 51-year-old tells Daily Mail. “When it was all done we had a little celebration. Some champagne came out and we all said, ‘Wow, that was a good batch of shows.'” He added, “I didn’t feel sad because I hadn’t yet decided not to renew my contract.”
But things changed once the Friends alum returned back to his cattle ranch in California and he realized that it was time to take a step back. “I’m 51,” the actor says, “and I’m tired. Between Top Gear and the sitcom I’m doing in LA, Man With A Plan, I was working too hard. Having one full-time job is a lot of work, so I don’t know how I managed two.”
The Golden Globes winner also reveals how the traveling just took a toll on his body. “I was jet-lagged for three years!” he says. “I had some time off, and realized I wasn’t sure about going back to Top Gear. I’d had time to think and to spend with my daughter and I realized how much I missed her — and my friends and my mother and sleeping in my own bed. I realized you need balance between work and play, and mine was out of whack.” He continues, “It was time to move on, which was a great call.”
Matt shares his 15-year-old daughter with his ex-wife, Melissa McKnight, who he was married to from 2003 to 2006. He will be leaving the car-focused series once the season, which kicks off on Sunday, February 17, wraps up. “I had a great experience, which I’ll never forget,” he says, adding, “The cars were a lot of fun, and I made some good friends there — particularly Chris Harris [the show’s other cohost along with Rory Reid], who I spent a lot of time with.”
And now that the Man with a Plan star will have more time on his hands with his daughter, is there a chance they can both sit-down and watch Friends together? Not a chance, Matt says. “It’s not her thing! Friends of hers have pointed it out to her — and maybe one day she’ll get into it herself too — but right now I think she thinks it’s a little too much Dad for her.”
“Now I’m home so much, she thinks she sees me enough for her liking!” Matt jokes.