Actor Ray Romano joins the show to talk about his new role on NBC’s “Parenthood,” and his career after the cancellation of “Men Of A Certain Age.” He joined Take Two this morning to talk about his new role, his career and the lasting legacy of his "Everybody Loves Raymond" character.
What first drew you to the character of Hank in “Parenthood”?
“If I’m being honest originally I was just attracted to the show, I knew the creator, who ran “Friday Night Lights,” which was a favorite show of mine. I called him to congratulate him on the season 3 finale and I kind of threw it out there almost as a joke, ‘hey I’m unemployed now’ after my show got cancelled, and he called me back to thank me for the nice words and took me up on my offer. He came up with this character, kind of curmudgeon photographer, a little bitter, kind of in a place he didn’t want to be, and that was enough for me…it’s been rewarding personally and career wise its been good.”
Financially how does this show compare to others you’ve done?
“I’m not getting Raymond numbers… I’m getting what I would make to drive to work on Raymond. I’m lucky that I don’t need to pick anything for the money anymore, I can pick things because I creatively am drawn to them, and that’s what this was.”
How is the experience transitioning from one character to another?
“From what I am experiencing, it is a process to get people to see you as something else. When I did “Men Of A Certain Age,” the people that came to that show, the majority of them were expecting an all out comedy, and something similar to what they had seen me do for 9 years and they didn’t get it, so those people went away and the audience that appreciated for what it was stayed, unfortunately it wasn’t enough. So it is not an easy thing to get people to see you as a different role when people see you as somewhat of an iconic character who was in their living room every night, and still is.”
Does it bother you that you are still so connected to the character of Raymond?
“I love Everybody loves Raymond… it was mine and Phil Rosenthal’s baby, the only thing is I want to keep working and I want to keep doing other things.”
This is a show that really deals with the complexity of parenthood, what kind of stories really resonate with you?
“Oddly enough this particular season that I am starting on just in the first episode alone where in the first scene Julia has an adopted son who has trouble going to school and is sitting in the car outside the school. My wife and I went through that period, when Raymond ended its 9 seasons, my twins who grew up on the show, they were 2 when the show started, it was a traumatic thing when it ended so my son had trouble going to school. We had to do exactly what they were doing, just sitting in the car talking through that. So that was something right out of my life.”
How disappointed were you when “Men Of A Certain Age” was cancelled?
“Still am… myself and Mike Royce, we were living it, we were creating it… we were in there every day writing… it was really our thing… We were proud of it and to our credit the critics took to it we won a Peabody Award, but when you get down to the business side of it, it just didn’t last, so it was a blow. It still is.”
You have made enough money where you don’t technically have to work again, what keeps you coming back?
“No I don’t have to be on Parenthood again! Its just part of what gets me going. Why are the Rolling Stones still out there? I’m not comparing myself to them but any performer, if an audience will come and you can still do what you do, yeah there is something about it that is part of the reason you got into it. I’ve always said if my father hugged me once I would be an accountant right now…. Just the high of creating new bits new material. People get high different ways, and this the way we get high.”
Can you tell us about the event this weekend in support of the Peter Boyle Research Fund?
“Peter’s wife Lorraine approached me with the idea, Peter died of myeloma and she wanted to start a foundation in his name for research, and she asked me if I would host it and I was more than happy to. Peter was close to me on the show, he was my mentor, he played the father on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” he took me under his wing. He was this movie star, this revered actor and here I was this guy doing stand up comedy coming out on my first TV show. He was kind of imposing I remember from his roles, and he was just the opposite of what you think, just the opposite of what he played. He was a funny, intelligent guy who held my hand the first year. After he passed away it was tragic and we all missed him, then Lorraine had this idea in his name to raise money. Its one night, its comedy, we have a great line up every year. This is the 6th year. We have a great one this year, all the money goes to the foundation.”
You can see Ray Romano performing at the Mirage in Las Vegas the first week of November or this weekend at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre for the Peter Boyle Research fund. Click here to get tickets to the 6th Annual Comedy Celebration benefiting the Peter Boyle Research Fund at the International Myeloma Foundation.