Why Ray Romano Got an Acting Coach in the Early Days of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’

The cast of Everybody Loves Raymond performed their last episode of the sitcom in 2005. After nine years on the air, the ensemble of Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, and Peter Boyle racked up a plethora of Emmy awards for their work on the show.

Despite the accolades and massive ratings, Romano wasn’t a fan of his own acting on the series during its early years.

Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano, Peter Boyle of 'Everybody Loves Raymond'
Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts, Ray Romano, and Peter Boyle of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ | Robert Voets/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Ray Romano gets famous

When Everybody Loves Raymond premiered in 1996, Romano was mostly known for being a standup comic. The sitcom star became a famous face once his CBS comedy became a hit and recalled the first time he was recognized.

“We had gone back to Queens,” Romano said in a 2019 NPR interview. “It was during a hiatus weekend. I went to a gas station, and I was pumping my gas. And a woman said, ‘Hey, aren’t you on that show?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I am.’ Thank you … and that was it.”

While Romano’s popularity has grown since that initial interaction, he still plays down his level of celebrity.

RELATED: ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ Star Ray Romano Was Fired From This Sitcom

“It was still a long ways off before I ever had to worry about being somewhere – and not that I have to worry,” Romano remarked. “I mean … I’m not Justin Bieber. … Here’s what I say. Before I thought my cab driver hated me, and now I think my limo driver hates me.”

Standup before stardom

Romano’s roots were in standup comedy rather than theater or television. Often doing shows in New York City, the Parenthood star was soon invited onto the late night talk circuit and even headlined some cable specials.

“I had been doing standup for 11 years,” Romano explained. “I did Johnny Carson in 1991, I did Leno a couple times, I did every stand-up show they had. Evening At The Improv, the MTV – all those shows – I had my own HBO half-hour, and I loved doing it.”

After an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1995, Romano was offered his own sitcom with Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants at the helm.

“There are many things that got me to where I am,” the Emmy winner shared. “But none more so than the five minutes I did on Letterman that night.”

Ray Romano becomes a seasoned actor

When Everybody Loves Raymond was preparing to debut, Romano was struggling with some self-doubt. A previous acting gig that ended in termination had impacted his confidence in his acting skills.

“I was scared and I was coming off a not good experience of being fired from another sitcom, News Radio,” Romano admitted, according to WBUR. “I was wracked with insecurity.”

The comedy star revealed the producers of Everybody Loves Raymond wanted to help him hone his skills as an actor.

RELATED: Ray Romano Says He Still Misses This Show – and It’s Not ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’

“They got an acting coach for me,” Romano said in his NPR interview. “HBO was also one of the producers, along with Worldwide Pants. And somebody from HBO said, ‘Listen, we want to hire an acting coach for you. … you know, it’s a little different than stand-up. When you talk, people talk back to you now.’ I go, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s – OK, let’s see how I can find out how to do that.'”

While the Romano isn’t crazy about his initial performances on Everybody Loves Raymond, he saw improvement with each episode he got under his belt.

“I look at myself in the early days of Raymond, and I don’t like watching myself,” Romano revealed. “It was a little stiff. There wasn’t a naturalness to it. I guess just through time, and also just experiencing life, too, helps as an actor.”