Ray Romano is used not only to being a man of a certain age but to playing one.
After the long run of "Everybody Loves Raymond," the actor-comedian is seeing expectedly more modest returns from TNT's seriocomic "Men of a Certain Age." The series he also co-created returns to wrap up its second season starting Wednesday, June 1, en route to a full third season expected to begin next summer.
"I seem to have a good handle on the character," Romano says of Joe, the divorced dad he plays in the show that also stars Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher. "It's not a crazy stretch from what I've done, but it is a new guy. I make a up a little back story for him, and it all seems to be flowing pretty naturally. I write for the show, too, and that helps."
Essentially, the fictional Ray Barone was the real-life Ray Romano on "Everybody Loves Raymond," so Romano believes "Men of a Certain Age" has made him grow as a performer.
"In a comedy," he reasons, "you're trying to keep it real, but you have to obey the rules of the genre. You have to heighten things and make them bigger and keep them external rather than internal. Here, it's like you're making a film each week, and you can play things much more subtly and with more depth.
"I hadn't done much of that," Romano adds, "but it's what I wanted to do, and I thought I could pull it off. And it seems to be working."
Also seen recently on the season finale of NBC's "The Office," Romano knew "Men of a Certain Age" would put him up against actors with much more experience in drama -- particularly Braugher, an Emmy winner for his intense work on the former NBC show "Homicide: Life on the Street."
"We saw several guys for that part," Romano says, "and nobody had quite the natural feel for it that he had. That's when you get lucky with casting, if (the actor) brings a little bit more than what you wrote. We had such a different picture in our heads than who we knew as Andre Braugher, this commanding presence ... but we figured, 'Let's just go with the best actor in the room.' And without a doubt, it was him."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times