Magazine article Variety

With 'Vinyl,' Ray Romano Leaves Raymond Behind

Magazine article Variety

With 'Vinyl,' Ray Romano Leaves Raymond Behind

Article excerpt

A decade ago, Ray Romano found himself in the enviable position of never having to work again. The success of his CBS series "Everybody Loves Raymond" had left him flush with the kind of windfall-for-life that only a hit sitcom can deliver. But his nine-year run as Ray Barone on the definitive family comedy of its era also could have easily sentenced him to typecasting as a TV dad for the rest of his professional life. In a conversation with Variety, Romano spoke about the evolution of his post-"Raymond" career, from TNT's "Men of a Certain Age" to NBC's "Parenthood" to his most challenging assignment yet: a 1970s record company exec facing a midlife crisis on HBO's "Vinyl."

How did you decide your next moves as an actor after "Raymond" ended in 2005?

There was no game plan. To be blunt, I didn't have to do anything for money after "Raymond" - which is what my wife keeps telling me after she sees me in a threesome in "Vinyl." One thing I knew was that I didn't want to do a four-camera sitcom. I was proud of what we did on "Raymond" - that was my legacy - but I wanted to move on.

Were you concerned about typecasting?

[Typecasting] is just natural when for nine years everybody sees you as that. I'm guilty of that. When we were casting actors [for "Men of a Certain Age"], when someone's name would come up, I would say, "He's not right." It's just ingrained in you.

Were you surprised at how well-received you were in the much more dramatic role on "Men of a Certain Age"? Was that a big boost for you?

Yes, we were very surprised when it debuted. I'm the first one to self-deprecate, but I couldn't find a bad review. I wasn't playing a serial killer or a drug addict - I was playing someone real. I was happy people accepted me. It wasn't a super stretch of a character - it was kind of like a reallife version of Ray Barone going through some deeper issues. This wasn't "Dallas Buyers Club." Then we won a Peabody, which means you get canceled. And one cable show that gets canceled helps free you from that branding as a sitcom guy.

How did you wind up on "Vinyl"? Zak Yankovich is pretty far removed from Ray Barone.

Scorsese had never heard of me before. He'd never seen "Raymond." I put myself on tape and sent in a video. He told his casting director he'd never heard of me - not that he'd never seen "Raymond" before, but he'd never even heard of me. It was the best backhanded compliment I ever got. …

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