Kevin James and Leah Remini portrayed married couple Doug and Carrie Heffernan on the hit sitcom King of Queens from 1998 to 2007. The chemistry between the two actors drew massive ratings for the CBS comedy. When reflecting on her career in her 2015 memoir, Remini explained how her co-star ended up being a very tough act to follow.
Kevin James was Leah Remini’s ‘first leading man’
Remini began appearing on the small screen in the 80’s in shows like Who’s the Boss? and Head of the Class. Getting her big break on King of Queens, she soon achieved celebrity status. Now an established actor, Remini revealed that she got a bit spoiled working with someone of James’ caliber.
“I had Kevin, who has ruined me for life,” she wrote of James in her book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. “He was my first leading man; and despite doing other shows with other leading men, I’ve never found anyone who could compare favorably to him. When I was acting with him, I felt safe.”
Not only was James a solid performer, but he was generous when it came to sharing the spotlight and had no problem letting Remini get the laughs.
“I knew that no matter what the joke or the script was, Kevin would find a way to make it better,” she raved. “He was gracious, the kind of actor who would often say, ‘Give Leah the joke instead of me’ — unheard of in a town full of ego-driven males.”
Leah Remini and Kevin James bickered but ‘always made up’
After working together for so many years, Remini and James grew into a routine that mirrored a real-life husband and wife, which included some occasional squabbling.
“Yes, we fought, like many married couples who were together every day for years,” Remini explained. “And yes, I treated Kevin just like I treated my husband, meaning I drove him crazy like any good wife would.”
Despite some off-camera clashes, Remini and James always put their differences behind them and never let any conflict damage their relationship.
“There were days when we didn’t even speak until the cameras were rolling,” she admitted. “But we always made up.”
Leah Remini saw ‘King of Queens’ as ‘home’
Though the former Dancing With the Stars contestant confessed to an affinity for gripping about the sitcom over the years, the positives always outweighed the negatives.
“Although I did more than my share of complaining, I loved King of Queens,” Remini wrote. “(I hate when people say ‘Enjoy it’ when you’re complaining or something. I am enjoying it. But I also enjoy complaining about it. It’s one of my favorite pastimes.) I loved the audiences and the crew, but above all I enjoyed the everyday-ness of the job.”
The comfort of having a steady gig for nine seasons on King of Queens became a foundation for Remini, where she developed a bond with all aspects of the sitcom.
“I never got bored of saying hi to the guard at the gate of the lot, or seeing my name on my parking spot, or listening to the latest from makeup and hair,” she shared. “The same thing, the same people, week in and week out — the routine was the part I loved. I had a home. Finally.”