LOS ANGELES – Everybody loved “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the iconic turn-of-the-millennium sitcom that won 15 Emmys, including 10 for acting, during its nine-season run from 1996 to 2005.
Everybody loved it so much that when the mic finally dropped, its star, Ray Romano, decided he never wanted to do another.
“Well after ‘Raymond,’ I didn't want to do a sitcom again,” Romano said Tuesday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
“I always wanted to keep comedy in my work, but yes, I was more attracted to maybe…maybe something dramatic. But it was small. It was little baby steps. Because it's very hard to get people to forget that character they've seen for nine years."
But the 59-year-old kept trying. He went on to co-create and co-star in TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age” and he had a recurring role in NBC’s “Parenthood” before he finally got the opportunity to show off his dramatic chops last year in the HBO series “Vinyl.” But despite the marquee names — Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, Terence Winter and Rich Cohen — it was not picked up for a second season.
Now Romano is back again, appearing in the hit movie "The Big Sick" and promoting his new series, "Get Shorty," a dark comedy based on Elmore Leonard’s novel and the 1995 film of the same name. Romano plays Rick, a washed-up producer of low quality films, on the Epix series, which will premiere on Aug. 13.
It's become quite a portfolio for the 59-year-old standup comic from Queens, N.Y. Is he surprised?
"I guess the answer is yes, because I'm surprised I can do anything," Romano said.
"When I did 'Vinyl' last year, or two years ago, I was delving into something very dark, and I had no idea whether I could pull it off or whether I did pull it off. So, yeah, every time I do something that people consider good or successful, it is a surprise to me.
“But, you know, it's fun. It's fun to try it. I still feel like I'm learning and growing in this non-comedic area…
"I'm very insecure about all of this, and it's a learning process. And with each job I get, with each role I take, I kind of discover that I can do something, you know, a little more, a little more dramatic."