When now-classic sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond went off the air in 2005, star Patricia Heaton never dreamed she’d ever act alongside co-star Ray Romano, not at least for a long while.
She explained how it was then that Romano came to appear on her next comedic hit, The Middle, years later.
Romano and Heaton worked together for 9 years
Heaton explained to NPR in 2010 how she came to know Romano and the frenzied rush she was in the day the two met. Her children were with a sitter that needed to be relieved of duty and Heaton had no time for small talk.
“Of course, I didn’t know Ray at the time, or know what sort of a genius he is and what a great guy he is,” Heaton said. “I was waiting for Ray to come into the room. I was just going to ask that guy to get me a cup of coffee while we were waiting. So I finally said, ‘do you mind if we just – I’m kind of in a time thing; do you mind if we read?’
“So I finally said, ‘yeah, I’ll read.’ It was like – no wonder they’ve been just sitting here chatting with me. So I read it really fast. I was like, ‘come on, let’s do this; I’ve got to go.’ And they were so lovely and the next thing I know, I was being called in to meet the president of CBS at the time, which was Les Moonves, and read for him and got the part.”
Heaton played Frankie Heck on ABC’s ‘The Middle’ for another 9 years
Speaking to ABC in 2017, Heaton explained how her roles on Raymond and The Middle, which ended its run in 2018, mirrored her real life.
“When I was on Raymond, my children were about the same age as the Barone children, so I experienced all those things as I was performing them,” she said. “And it’s the same with the Heck family. My children are all about the same age now as the Heck children.
“It freed up my time, because I didn’t have to do any research on this. I didn’t have go deep to find this. It was right there on the surface. I was making mistakes all over the place. I was always feeling inadequate so it all happened at the same time.”
Why Heaton said Romano had to be given a role on ‘The Middle’
Romano appeared on The Middle in the show’s third season premiere episode, “Forced Family Fun,” a two-parter. He played Nicky Kohlbrenner on the episode, an old friend of Mike Heck’s who happens upon Mike and Frankie…on their camping honeymoon.
“We finally had to give him a part on the show,” Heaton said of Romano in 2011. “He’s been hanging around the set for a year. I’d say, ‘Ray, can you get me a coffee or something, make yourself useful, as long as you’re going to be hanging around here.’ Finally, we just had to give him a part so we could get rid of him.”
Heaton described their on-screen reunion, clearly delighted at the opportunity to reunite with her previous TV husband.
“We had this wonderful, wonderful hour-long premiere where Ray comes on the show in a flashback,” she said. “It was really a lot of fun to have sort of have my two TV husbands. It’s one of those kind of weird Twilight Zone kind of Hollywood moments that you live for.”
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