It’s easy to feel sorry for Brad Garrett’s Robert Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. The first character (perhaps the only one) to say the show’s title as a punchline, Robert is constantly overlooked and underestimated.
Garrett shared how he very nearly wasn’t cast as the lovably victimized older brother on the fan-favorite show.
The Romano family was an awful lot like the fictional Barones
Actor Peter Boyle who played family patriarch Frank Barone spoke in 2005 with the Archive of American Television about the day Ray Romano’s family stopped by the show’s set. The Romano clan visited during Everybody Loves Raymond‘s first season as the show was new and they had surely been hearing a great deal about it from their son.
“During the first year [of the show], when we were struggling and unknown and everything,” Boyle said, “Raymond’s real family showed up on the set. And there was his mother, and his father, and his brother the policeman, and his other brother who was a schoolteacher, I think.
“And basically, it was us!,” Boyle said. “It was amazing.”
Ray Romano didn’t want Brad Garrett to play his brother
Brad Garrett in a separate interview with the Archive of American Television talked in 2007 about his interest in joining the Everybody Loves Raymond cast and the show star’s hesitation to hire him.
“Well, I read the script and one thing that was made very clear was that Ray didn’t want me,” Garrett said.
The stand-up comic won the 1984 comedy category of the talent competition Star Search. Mimicking Romano’s voice, he continued in the interview, “‘Oh, it’s that guy from Star Search. Sorry, I don’t see him playing my brother.’”
The actor said he read the script and knew it was “really, really special. The whole show is literally Ray’s life. When we shot the pilot, he was living across the street from his family.”
The ‘Til Death actor revealed that the brother he played on Raymond in real life was a “scrappy, smaller guy” and that Romano wanted a “Danny DeVito type” to play his brother.
How Garrett convinced ‘Raymond’ producers to give him a chance
At 6’8″, Brad Garrett is most certainly not scrappy or small, and so he turned Romano’s thinking on its head to get him and show creator Phil Rosenthal to consider him for the role.
“I said, ‘You know what, I would love to be able to play it the other way and just play it as this big, beaten-down guy who’s so used to coming in last, he’s just succumbed to the fact that he’s a loser. What I’ve used as an actor when I play Robert is, Ray’s an only child and they forgot to tell Robert,” Garrett explained.
He knew when he auditioned that Romano and Rosenthal would either love it or send him on his way. In fact, Garrett noted that Romano didn’t see his audition and that if he had, things may have gone much differently.
“I was the only character that was cast right after Ray and before the other characters,” he said. “I was the only one that read without Ray being in the room. He was in New York and he couldn’t get back in time. I have a feeling that if Ray was in the room, I’d be waiting on you right now [at a restaurant].”
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