Patricia Heaton Talks Technology, Casting and ‘Carol’s Second Act’

Patricia Heaton has been on our TV screens for 30 years since her role on Thirtysomething. Her comedies Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle ran for nine years each, and she’s about to start a new show Carol’s Second Act. Heaton plays Carol, a woman who embarks on a medical career in her 50s and begins her internship with recent medical school grads.

Patricia Heaton on Carol's Second Act
Patricia Heaton and Carol Mansell on Carol’s Second Act | Sonya Flemming/CBS

Heaton has been in the business for a long time and she shared stories with the Television Critics Associaton. Some were personal about her relationship to technology. Some were about the business of surviving horrible casting sessions and becoming the marquee star of a sitcom. Carol’s Second Act premieres Thursday, September 26 at 9:30 on CBS.

Patricia Heaton has been in a room full of young hotshots before

On The Middle and Everybody Loves Raymond, there were kids, but Patricia Heaton had cohorts among her costars. On Carol’s Second Act, and in real life, Heaton is used to being one of the older adults in the room.

Carol's Second Act
L to R: Ito Aghayere, Patricia Heaton, Sabrina Jalees, Jean-Luc Bilodeau and Lucas Neff | Sonja Flemming/CBS

“I was just over at Amazon, those big headquarters they have,” Heaton said. “I was walking down a hallway, and the conference rooms, everything is open. You can see in and everybody was in their 20s, and everybody was on a laptop. Then a whole group of them came down the hallway, and it was the same thing. My husband and I just had, like, a, you know, ‘How did they even let us in here? We should get out of here.’ It was like being on another planet, actually.”

Patricia Heaton loves new technology

Patricia Heaton is adapting to all the new technology, and some of it is helping her dramatically. 

“Satellite navigation is the greatest thing,” Heaton said. “If you remember Thomas Guides and how you had to turn pages and plan it, I have a horrible sense of direction, and life was hard before all this technology. That sat nav is just oh, God, I’m so glad to be alive right now. So I see it mostly as a positive.”

Patricia Heaton on Carol’s Second Act | Sonja Flemming/CBS

When there’s any device Heaton doesn’t know how to use, that’s when she calls on her younger family members.

“The reason you have children is that they can just keep you abreast of technology,” Heaton said. “They can fix your computers, and they do things for you, and they tell you how to use Venmo, and they they’re just great.”

How Patricia Heaton overcame Hollywood casting prejudice

With several hit shows under her belt, it’s clear that anyone who didn’t cast Patricia Heaton back in the day was wrong.

“Very early on, actually, when I was auditioning, reading for some movie, when I first came here, when I actually looked pretty and was younger, a casting director said to me, ‘Let me be honest with you. We’re looking for a very attractive actress for this part.’ I was, fortunately, at a place in my life where I had kind of let go of needing to be an actor. I was just sort of I was able to look at it and go, ‘Wow, that’s amazing that you feel comfortable saying that right to my face.’ I mean, I didn’t say that. I just thought that. And that was a woman, right?”

Patricia Heaton, Television Critics Association panel 8/1/19

Rolling with setbacks like that is what got Heaton to later successes.

Patricia Heaton
Patricia Heaton Francis Specker/CBS

“It’s just life, man,” Heaton said. “Look, we all fall short of the glory of God. Let’s put it that way. So you’re going to run into people who are insecure and they take their insecurities out on you. You just have to acknowledge that that’s what’s happening and not take it personally, and you just try to move on with grace and compassion.”

Now she is the one people come to ‘Carol’s Second Act’ to see

Ray Romano was the headliner star of Everybody Loves Raymond, and even after the success of that show, Patricia Heaton starred with other powerhouse actors.

“I remember many years on Raymond, watching Ray come out and do the intro to the audience,” Heaton said. “Then I did a short-lived show with Kelsey Grammer called Back to You, and Kelsey would be the one coming out and sort of welcoming the audience.”

L to R: Patricia Heaton, Ito Aghayere, Lucas Neff, Sabrina Jalees and Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Daniel | Sonja Flemming/CBS

The Middle did not film in front of an audience, so Carol’s Second Act is Patricia Heaton’s first chance to be the first star in front of the audience.

“It’s actually I’m a little embarrassed to say it’s thrilling to be that person to do that,” Heaton said. “We really are trying to create something that we really want everyone to love, and we want them to laugh, and we want to make them feel good about life and humanity. So it’s fun to be able to be the emcee for that.”