What Patricia Heaton Says About Playing a Role Over 10 Years Younger on ‘Carol’s Second Act’

Patricia Heaton is a sitcom veteran. After starring in two successful shows – CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond and ABC’s The Middle – Heaton is now heading a new series launching this fall on CBS, playing a character 11 years her junior.

Patricia Heaton | John Shearer/WireImage

A role that resonated

According to Entertainment Tonight, Heaton’s new show Carol’s Second Act focuses on Carol Kenney, a retired teacher who decides to follow her dream of being a doctor now that she’s getting a divorce and done raising her kids, all at the age of 50.

The part hit home for Heaton, who was at a similar crossroads in her life having just finished her second long-running series. “What was perfect about it was my kids are pretty much out of the house and my second run in a long-running show was done and I was feeling a bit at sea not knowing what I was doing, not having a job and [wondering], who am I without these things?” she said. “This idea was so perfect. It was a while after The Middle had finished, maybe a year, so I had time to field those feelings that Carol was feeling. And, it’s been interesting to go on this journey with everyone and with Carol and explore that.”

It’s just a number

Heaton plays a 50-year-old woman, even though she is 61. The actress felt making the title character younger made the most sense for the show’s premise. “Realistically, to be able to get into medical school, I would think they would take your age into consideration,” she said, as reported by Entertainment Tonight. “So, If you start at 60 and don’t get into your internship until 65…”

As for the age difference, Heaton is unfazed. “I am 61 and I don’t have a problem with that,” she said. “I kept saying I don’t think people will really believe I’m in my 50s – do I need gray in my hair? I really [think] I look like Angelina Jolie until I look into the mirror and realize I don’t. So, I thought it was realistic she’s in her 50s because I look like I’m in my 50s!”

Welcoming the challenge

The sitcom star is relishing the new role, seeing the challenge as invigorating, even to the point of permeating her dreams. “It’s interesting because I think it’s important at any time of your life to keep challenging yourself and just in those last two days, I’ve started having those actors’ nightmares — even at this stage of the game,” Heaton said. “I’m driving on Vine and I stop my car in the intersection and I can’t get my hands out of my pocket and I have to abandon my car because I have to be at a table read I actually missed. That was last night! So, I think it’s a good sign that I’m excited about this. It’s a challenge. It’s very exciting to go back to multi-cam and to do it live in front of an audience.”

Heaton is so dedicated to her career, she even joked that she wants to be on stage until her dying day – literally. “My perfect scenario is … I see death getting nearer and nearer to me and I could die on the soundstage. That’s how I want to go!” she quipped.

Carol’s Second Act premieres on September 26 on CBS!