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Actor Patricia Heaton portrayed Debra Barone, the married and harried mother of three on CBS’ hit comedy, Everybody Loves Raymond for nine seasons starting in 1996.

The real-life mother of four opened up shortly after the series ended to discuss her true feelings for the character whose personality took up so much of her own head space for so long.

Patricia Heaton
Patricia Heaton | Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

Heaton’s audition on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’

Patricia Heaton (right) and Ray Romano

With two young children, Heaton and her husband were living paycheck to paycheck when the actor auditioned for the role of Debra Barone.

As she explained to NPR in 2010, her tryout for the role that put her on the map was almost as chaotic as the Barone family’s life on the comedy series.

“I had a babysitting conflict,” she said. “My babysitter was in college, and she needed to get to class… And I ran over there. And was kind of, you know, frazzled and hassled and, you know, mad at my husband for something… There were probably 20 women in the waiting room to read for this part. And I thought, ‘oh, I’m never going to get back.’”

Ray Romano was impressed with Heaton at her audition

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Heaton clearly didn’t think the audition would lead to much, as she described rushing Ray Romano through the audition to get back to her kids. Her co-star was beyond impressed.

“She came in and Phil and I thought this is it, this is her,” he told The Daily News in 2002. “Not only do I think she bought it, but the scene calls for the actress to kiss me and she was the only one who kissed me on the lips,” Romano shared. “So I said, ‘She’s in, she’s dedicated.’”

What Heaton really thinks of Debra Barone

With nine years under her belt portraying Debra Barone, there surely has to be a fondness that the former Carol’s Second Act star developed for her character.

“I really related to [Debra] and as the show developed, Debra developed,” Heaton said in a conversation with the Archive of American Television in 2006. “It’s funny, she could be sort of such a b**ch but I guess she was really patient and she recognized Ray’s good qualities, as much as she got angry at him. She recognized. . . the value of family and I think she was always trying to make it work.”

In speaking about Debra’s bad traits, the 62-year-old didn’t hold back.

Patricia Heaton (right) with ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ co-star Doris Roberts

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“Sneaky, manipulative, she had a lot of the traits that Marie [Debra’s mother-in-law, played by Doris Roberts, on the comedy] had. . . . She was always a little bit angry that [Ray] couldn’t read her mind, that he wasn’t sensitive and everything he tried fell apart.”

Ultimately, what did Heaton think of her alter ego, Debra Barone?

“Debra was such a horrible homemaker! That was what was so wonderful about her was that she couldn’t cook and a lot of time with the kids was like, whatever. I think she tried but she was just like every mom, she’d had it up to here with everything.”