Joey & Chandler
Joey & Chandler are without a doubt my favourite on-screen couple. Their bromance probably had more chemistry than Jack & Rose in Titanic. Though they both were equally funny and hilarious in their own different way, I could not but relate more to Chandler even after watching Friends the umpteenth time. Part of that could be his sarcastic sense of humour but I think it had more to do with his amazing luck with women (you know, except his marriage with Monica J).
From what I read (and my knowledge might be limited here), both these guys got their biggest break quite early. Imagine, to get your first big break on a sitcom which literally defined a generation. Agreed, no one could have imagined this back then, but the funny thing is, what happens when the first major job you land becomes bigger than everything? So big, that you don’t know if you’ll do anything or be a part of anything which can be as big your first major role. You’re not recognised by the work you do, but you’re recognised by the biggest series on the planet. I read some of the actors from the show actually spoke about it that though they loved being a part of the show, their identity was always up for debate. You’re not Matt le Blanc or Matthew Perry, but Joey & Chandler.
That’s the thing, what do you do when the first big job you get, turns out to be larger than life. So much so, that your identity is no longer your work, what you do, how good you are at it, what you want to do or achieve, but it becomes synonymous to the ‘sitcom’ you work for. For close to 5 amazing years, people outside my workspace always used to recognise me from where I used to work, which is totally fine. The point is, what do you do after the dream run is over?
Matthew Perry/Chandler starred in a bunch of sitcoms he produced and starred in which pretty much tried to repeat what he did. Matt Le Blanc/Joey also did his fair share when he starred in ill-fated sitcom Joey for 2 seasons, but very soon the difference between these two actors became more and more clear. While Joey started experimenting with other genres and different type of shows, Chandler stuck to his brand of comedy with multiple ill-fated sitcoms. They were not necessarily bad, but they were nothing different, and neither did they give the ‘actor’ within Chandler to do anything different.
I consistently get asked as to why would you leave probably one of the best organisations to work for and that doesn’t bother me much, but the follow up reactions to my answer can be very condescending to say the least. I loved my 5 years doing what I did and I would not give that up for anything. The experience and the people I met is something I’ll cherish all my life. But I knew for some time now that I want to do something else, something which may never be as big as what I was a part of, but start taking small steps towards what I want to do in the long run. Think of it as doing blockbuster movies and then doing the small/so-called indie-movies, the box-office vs. the Sundance festival. When you step out of blockbuster to an indie movie set, you don’t have a studio’s backup, millions of dollars in marketing, and a worldwide audience. You just have yourself, your body of work and what you make for it. Stepping out to the world of small companies can be somewhat similar — you don’t have a big brand logo on your back, no fancy perks or abroad travels. You only have your work to show for yourself and nothing else. That is the time when you get to curate your own identity. I get to apply all my learnings to what I do and continue to learn and evolve.
Breaking out of your comfort zone is one of the biggest learnings I have had and I agree it’s scary at first, hell I’m still scared at times, but it’s also one of the most enriching experiences you can have. I may sometimes miss the comfort, and I definitely miss some of the people, but that should never stop anyone from going after what they want. In my case, some of it might have been accidental, but I’m happy that I got to spin it around and create my own story and at the same time do something that I’m really passionate about.
Since Friends ended, Chandler has tried his hand to repeat the same success with the same formula, whereas Joey actually won a golden globe for a dramedy role. As I said I always felt like Chandler when the series was going on, but more and more I feel more like Joey now who expanded himself to come out of the shadow and started getting noticed as Matt Le Blanc.