Martin Scorsese Had No Idea Who Ray Romano Was Before Casting Him in ‘Vinyl’

Romano's agent told him Scorsese hadn't seen "Everybody Loves Raymond," "which was a blessing because he didn't have to erase the sitcom character from his mind."
Martin Scorsese, Ray Romano
Martin Scorsese, Ray Romano

Well, apparently not everyone knows Raymond.

“Everybody Loves Raymond” sitcom star Ray Romano revealed that Oscar winner Martin Scorsese was completely oblivious to the actor’s TV fame before casting him in short-lived HBO series “Vinyl.”

“Scorsese did the pilot and I had to go on tape for him. The cool thing was, I went on tape and the response we got back was, ‘Yeah, Marty likes it. He’s in the running. And Marty wants to know who he is. He’s never seen him,'” Romano said during Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast. “And my agent was like, ‘So he’s never seen the show?’ And they go, ‘No, no, no, he doesn’t know who the guy is,’ which was a blessing because he didn’t have to erase the sitcom character from his mind.”

Romano continued, “I can buy that, that Martin Scorsese doesn’t watch television. So when he hired me, he liked what he saw.”

The “Somewhere in Queens” director admitted that the “Vinyl” role was a “stretch” for him coming from the comedy world.

“We do the pilot and I’m playing this guy from the ’70s, this music guy, and I’m snorting coke, this and that, and it’s a stretch for me but it’s fun as hell. And then a year goes by, almost a year until they do the second episode. And I’m reading it and my character has to contemplate killing myself in his garage and breakdown crying. And I go to my agent: ‘Well, I don’t know if I can do this,'” Romano said. “And this is how compassionate he was, he goes, ‘Well you better do it!’ That’s the response. And that was the first time where I had something that heavy and I’m like, ‘Holy shit.'”

Romano listened to “Fix You” by Coldplay to get into character for a scene involving a suicide attempt.

“I surprised myself actually that I tapped into it and pulled it off,” Romano said. “It was weird. It turned a corner for me, to attack that kind of scene.”

“Vinyl” debuted in 2016 and was canceled after one season.

Romano later worked with Scorsese again on “The Irishman,” noting that he expected a signal of approval from the director or co-star Robert De Niro after a particularly draining day of production.

“I had one pretty big scene with De Niro in that,” Romano said, citing that the sequence took place over the second day of production and it took three hours to film one scene. “I got nothing from Scorsese and I got nothing from De Niro. The day is over, they’re going home!”

Romano called his wife, saying at the time, “I don’t know man. I swear to God. I don’t know if De Niro is telling Scorsese, ‘We’ve got to get rid of this guy’ or whatever.”

It was then that Romano spotted De Niro at the hotel check-in.

“He just walks over, grabs my head, kisses me on the cheek, and just walks away,” Romano said. “Well, I think it’s good. It’s the mafia so you never know!”

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