Why Ray Romano Never Wanted To Make His Directorial Debut

Ray Romano is known for being a stand-up comedian and a sitcom star, merging the two when he starred in "Everybody Loves Raymond," the hit show based on Romano's life and comedy. His resume also includes some producing stints and voice acting, most notably as the pessimistic mammoth Manny in the "Ice Age" franchise, but now he has added the role of film director to his resume. 

There have been other actors, writers, and producers who have also sat in the director's chair, and now Romano joins this list with his film "Somewhere in Queens." Like "Everybody Loves Raymond," the film is based at least in part on Romano's life. The difference for Romano is that he never directed any episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond," nor did he have the desire to do so. However, this lack of experience and desire are only part of why he was reluctant to make his directorial debut with "Somewhere in Queens."

Ray Romano's agent urged him to direct Somewhere in Queens

Given that Ray Romano co-wrote the script for "Somewhere in Queens" and based the story on his own family life, it seemed that he could easily be the director as well. But Romano himself did not agree. "I fought it to the last minute," he told Variety. He went on to list the reasons why, and perhaps showed a bit of imposter syndrome in the process. "I'd never done it," he explained. "And who am I? Will the cast even respect what I have to say? In addition, I didn't know lenses from a shutter from whatever."

It was Romano's agent who convinced him to take on the challenge. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Romano explained that his agent said, "Listen, this is a personal story to you, don't give it to anybody else." Though Romano eventually took that advice, he wasn't pleased that his agent talked him into doing it. "He twisted my arm and I finally said yes," Romano stated. Still, it took time for Romano's hesitancy to dissipate.

Directing Somewhere in Queens took its toll

Ray Romano's anxieties about directing "Somewhere in Queens" nearly bubbled over in the film's early stages, leading to a frantic phone call to his agent. "I go, 'I can't do it, can't do this. I can't stay here for nine more weeks and have this anxiety,'" Romano stated to Entertainment Tonight. "By day three, I'm not joking. I had to go to my cardiologist in New York and get on the treadmill and do a stress test because I was getting chest pains."

Romano's reluctance to direct reveals his humility, as does his stand-up comedy. Many describe Romano as self-deprecating on and off stage, and the last to toot his own horn. He once joked about this part of himself to Vanity Fair. "The joke I used to say was, 'Before I used to think my cabdriver hated me, and now I think my limo driver hates me,'" he said. "I'm just in a different tax bracket, but what I'm going through internally is still the same." A directorial debut may not lift Romano's ego, but his modesty makes him as relatable as the characters for which he is known and loved.