‘Everybody Loves Raymond’s Creator Said This Was How Ray Romano Differed From Ray Barone

While it’s often said that art imitates life, the creator of classic television comedy Everybody Loves Raymond may argue that it’s really the other way around.

Here’s what show creator Phil Rosenthal had to say about whether its star Ray Romano and the character he played Ray Barone were really all that different.

Ray Romano, left, screams as his on-screen wife Patricia Heaton bites his ear on 'Everybody Loves Raymond'
Actors Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton in a scene from ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ | Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Romano was discovered on David Letterman’s late show

Before taking on the role of Ray Barone on the CBS hit comedy, Ray Romano first made a name for himself as a stand-up comic. He persistently entered several talent shows, hoping to get discovered. Finally, the actor received an invitation to appear on Late Show with David Letterman.

He explained to The Hollywood Reporter how his performance led to an offered for his own TV show.

“[The Letterman producer called my house and said] ‘Dave loved what he saw,’” Romano recalled. “‘We all loved it. He thinks you’re very accessible and we want to sign you to a development deal. Don’t sign with anybody until you talk with us!’” I said, ‘Nobody else is asking. It’s a Saturday in my backyard. You’re it!’”

Romano was ‘afraid of looking fake’

“I wrote to who Ray was,” Rosenthal who not only created Raymond but also wrote for the show, told the Television Academy Foundation. “In fact, Ray didn’t want to play anyone other than who he was because he was afraid of looking fake.”

The Somebody Feed Phil star gave an example of the lengths Romano went to for his character to be as authentic as possible.

RELATED: This ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Episode Inspired a Netflix Series

“He wouldn’t drink coffee, because Ray the man didn’t drink coffee,” Rosenthal explained. “So I said, ‘Ray it’s TV, the cup doesn’t have to be coffee. So he goes, ‘Eh, they’re not going to believe it.’ I said, ‘Really, you can’t drink water and have us say it’s coffee?’ And about three or four shows in, we had a coffee-specific thing, we made him do it.”

Rosenthal gave Romano credit for going above and beyond to present a character that was “honest and truthful.”

“He took little steps took toward expanding the repertoire of what he could do,” he added. “[He] could always do it; he just didn’t know he could do it.”

How ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ got its name

Once Romano got the go-ahead for the show and Rosenthal was given charge over direction of the comedy about Romano’s life, it was time to find a name for it.

In a conversation with Larry King during Raymond‘s run, Romano explained the origin of the show’s name – and his dislike of it.

“Yeah. I’m learning to live with it now,” Romano said. “It was a title that invites hatred. It came about from a sarcastic comment my brother made, who is a police officer. And he said, ‘Look what I do for a living, and look at Raymond — yeah, everybody loves Raymond.’ So we used it as a title. And it just grew on CBS, and we couldn’t get rid of it.”