Matthew Perry did his best to keep himself busy after the great success of Friends and he tried his hand at a classic TV show. For three seasons, Perry starred as sportswriter Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple. Thomas Lennon portrayed “neat freak” Felix Unger.
If some of you are saying “Hey, this sounds like the old show,” then you would be right. Jack Klugman portrayed Oscar Madison while Tony Randall was Felix Unger in the 1970s version. The basic premise of The Odd Couple is that you have two divorced men trying to live together in the same space. But they both have different lifestyles.
Trouble brews when Felix and Oscar clash over how to handle their living conditions. For Oscar, a mess is a mess. As for Felix, he’s all about being clean. Every second of every day, the apartment must be as clean as possible.
Matthew Perry Compared Himself To Oscar Madison
The dichotomy between how Felix and Oscar live brings up the laughs. Perry was one of the executive producers in this version of a Neil Simon play. Perry and Lennon join a long line of actors who worked in this back-and-forth relationship between friends.
“I think that people thought I was going to play Felix because Chandler was more Felix-y, but in my life, if you know me, I’m much more of an Oscar,” Perry said in a 2015 interview with CBS News. Perry added that if people actually came to his apartment, “you’d see trash, pizza boxes, just a ridiculous amount of trash.”
Did you know that another version of this play appeared on TV in 1982? The New Odd Couple starred a couple of familiar faces to TV viewers. Demond Wilson of Sanford and Son fame played Oscar while Ron Glass of Barney Miller played Felix. Sadly, this version only lasted for one season. Bart Braverman and John Schuck co-starred in this show.
Let’s take this even further back. Did you know that Simon’s original play appeared on Broadway with Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney as Felix? It had a very successful run. Obviously, neither actor was chosen to play their roles on TV. Matthau, though, reprised his role in the movie version while Jack Lemmon portrayed Felix.
In the 1970s version, Garry Marshall oversaw its production. Marshall would go on to have more hits with Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley.
But Perry wanted to keep working in the business. As we said, the success of Friends probably gave Perry some leeway with his version of this classic play. Still, the fact that the show lasted three seasons could be considered a victory.
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