LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ray Romano has a stack of acting awards and a decent golf handicap. But for his TV show “Men of a Certain Age,” playing a character who is worse at golf than Romano is, is where the real pressure lies, he says.
Romano, 52, portrays good-natured and friendly guy, Joe, in the television show that mixes elements of drama and comedy. Joe once had dreams of being a professional golfer, but now owns and runs a party store.
“Men of a Certain Age”, also starring Andre Braugher as a stressed-out car salesman and Scott Bakula as a handsome but struggling actor, makes its DVD debut on Tuesday (November 9) and returns to cable network TNT on December 6 for a second season.
The deadpan comic, whose “Everybody Loves Raymond” TV comedy won three Emmys during its 1996-2005 run, recently talked with reporters about “Men of a Certain Age”, golf, and where the second season is heading.
Q: Did you always have yourself in mind for this show?
A: Yes, but I didn’t know if I could get myself on the phone (laughs). I wanted to work again in front of the camera so this was for me. My character is 49 -- every TV character I play is three years younger than me.”
Q: What is the appeal of “Men of a certain Age”?
A: “People identify with it. You don’t even have to be that age, or that sex. What we try to do is write what we know and what we live. That’s what worked with ‘Raymond’. We want to make these characters real...We didn’t want to make them heroes or villains. These are three guys who are flawed but who are trying to make their way the best they can.”
Q: You have written golf into your TV character. How far is that going to go?
A: “We always had that as part of the storyline for Joe, that eventually he will try out for the senior tour.”
Q: Does it make it easier going to work that you go onto the course and play a few holes?
A: “It’s fun, but it’s a little bit more pressure than the real acting because now I have to act like I am a scratch golfer and I‘m not, and I want it to look real. Normally, I’ll swing a club without any ball there, and then we will just use computer generated imagery later for the ball. So actually those scenes are more pressure than the others.”
Q: Where are the characters going in Season Two. Are they going to be affected by the economic downturn?
A: “We do address that. Andre’s character (Owen) who is now trying to run the car dealership, has to deal with the state of the economy and try to find his way as the boss now in such a horrible economic climate. So yeah, we try to incorporate what’s going on as much as we can in the stories.”
Q: How does working on the show (as actor and executive producer) compare to “Everybody Loves Raymond”?
A: “Writing is hard -- I don’t care if it’s comedy or drama. This is much more intense. It takes much longer. I thought I worked hard on the sitcom -- I worked a lot of hours because I wore a lot of hats on that one. But I never expected how much goes into this. You are doing a 40-minute movie every week. It is much more consuming than a sitcom I would say.”
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellote