Matthew Perry poked fun at his post-“Friends” career slump during a panel for his upcoming revival of the classic series “The Odd Couple” at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena on Monday.
“I’m doing ‘The Odd Couple’ because my attempt at being a movie star failed,” Perry, who serves as executive producer on the series as well as playing sloppy sports journalist Oscar Madison, cracked.
With the new series, Perry is attempting to revamp one of the more iconic series in television history. Both Perry and his “Odd Couple” co-star Thomas Lennon, who plays photographer/neat freak on the series, both indicated that the ghosts of the past incarnations loomed large.
“It’s big shoes to fill, but we’re doing our own thing and playing it differently,” Perry offered.
“I thought long and hard about whether it was even attemptable, because Tony Randall [who played Unger on the earlier television series] is a big hero of mine, and I was worried that I might try to do an impression of Tony Randall or something. But then when I thought that he was really the third Felix Unger and I was might be something like the fifth, I felt that maybe there was something I could bring to it.”
Executive producer Bob Daily offered his own thoughts on the huge effect that the Madison and Unger characters have had on television, saying that they showed up in numerous incarnations aside from the various direct revamps of “The Odd Couple.”
“It’s such an elastic concept, the DNA of those two characters has seeped into television for the past four decades. I spent time writing on ‘Frasier,’ and ‘Frasier’ was basically ‘The Odd Couple’ with one Oscar and two Felixes,” Daily said. “Bert and Ernie are ‘The Odd Couple.'”
“In terms of the Bert and Ernie aspect, we do take a lot of bubble baths together,” Lennon joked. “More than you would think.”