Nowadays, it would be hard to shake Ray Romano as he films scenes for TNT’s Men of a Certain Age, where he plays a neurotic middle-aged store owner.
However, that wasn’t so when Romano was starting out on Everybody Loves Raymond in the mid ‘90s. The 53-year-old actor told NPR’s Fresh Air that he was very nervous around the late Peter Boyle, who played his father on the sitcom, during the first days of filming.
“I remember when we were rehearsing the pilot episode and (I was thinking) this is a show built around me and there’s Peter Boyle and I hadn’t really talked to him that much (because) his reputation just scared me and he was this hulking strong presence,” recalled the talkative Romano. “During day one of rehearsal, in between one of the scenes our paths crossed backstage and he just stopped me… and he goes ‘It’s just like water, just let it flow…’ At the time, I was just blown away by this kind gesture that he would make me feel comfortable.”
Boyle’s words must’ve calmed Romano’s nerves. Everybody Loves Raymond, in which Romano essentially played himself, enjoyed a nine-year run on CBS. The faux father-and-son duo eventually buddied around on the set and even went out to dinner together.
“He could have a conversation about anything — politics, government, art — and then with me, this was the great thing about him, he would dumb it down for me,” Romano laughed. “He would talk about sports and Hooters with me… The opposite of the character he portrayed on TV, as far as that goes.”