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Ray Romano took on several dramatic roles after his iconic sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond aired its final show in May 2005. Joining the cast of Parenthood in season 4, Romano portrayed Hank Rizzoli, a photographer on the autism spectrum and love interest of Sarah Braverman, played by Lauren Graham.

When it came time to rehearse the couple’s first kiss, Romano told Graham he’d rather not practice the lip lock.

'Parenthood': Lauren Graham and Ray Romano
‘Parenthood’: Lauren Graham and Ray Romano | Danny Feld/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Ray Romano was willing to take a pay cut for ‘Parenthood’

Wanting to flex some dramatic muscle as an actor, Romano created and starred in the TNT show Men of a Certain Age alongside Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher from 2009 to 2011. When the series was cancelled, Romano set his sights on Parenthood.

“Well I was a fan of the show,” the comedian told TheTwoCents in 2012. “I watched the show since the beginning and I was on my show while it was on. And I just like the tone of it and there’s nothing quite being done like that on television. And I knew [Parenthood creator] Jason Katims and we had been in touch, you know. He was a fan of my show. … And then unfortunately my show no longer existed.”

With TNT cancelling Men of a Certain Age, Romano let Katims know of his interest in the NBC drama. He also didn’t require the $1.8 million per episode paycheck he used to get from Everybody Loves Raymond.

“In between trying to find out what to do next I had been speaking to Jason and I believe I put it out there first,” Romano recalled. “Kind of jokingly I said, ‘Hey, if you ever find something for me I work cheap.’ And he took me up on it, and cheap it is. But I’m still happy to do it.

‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ alum becomes a romantic rival

The love triangle of Sarah, Hank, and Mark Cyr (Jason Ritter) on Parenthood became a major draw for viewers. Romano was a bit intimidated by entering a romantic rivalry with Ritter’s character.

“I was scared walking into this, because I didn’t know where [the writers] were going to go with the character,” Romano said, according to Yahoo! Entertainment. “I was like, ‘Oh, I got to go up against Jason Ritter. I got to go up against a 30-year-old stud,’ and I was scared crapless.”

The Vinyl star didn’t worry for long thanks to the scripts allowing viewers to get familiar with Hank and his chemistry with Sarah.

“It’s a credit to the guys, to the writers, you know, the way they’ve done it,” Romano said. “The way they’ve eased into it … we got to know this guy.”

Being awkward around women is in Ray Romano’s ‘wheelhouse’

Though he was playing a romantic lead on Parenthood, Romano confessed he’s usually not too smooth with the ladies. Thankfully Hank had an awkward side to which the comedian could relate.

“Awkward I can play,” Romano said. “That’s in my wheelhouse. It’s very easy for me to be awkward especially around women. ​… That’s why I like this, because it had to be awkward but filtered through Hank, which was totally different than anything I’ve done. You know, with Ray Barone or even Men of a Certain Age or anything.” ​

When it came time for the first kiss between Sarah and Hank, Romano wanted to forego rehearsing the smooch to make the scene authentically awkward.


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

“It was awkward without – there was like a little bit of refusing to accept that it was awkward kind of,” Romano said of the scene. “It was a weird line I had to walk … I kind of felt that that scene was really unique and felt good when we did it.”

Though Parenthood aired its final episode in 2015, fans can still get their Braverman family fix on syndication and streaming services.