Just remember this…a TV kiss is NOT just a kiss.
Kissing Lauren Graham on "Parenthood" has not been very good for Ray Romano's marriage.
"My wife looked at the kiss on TV. Then she looked at me," Romano tells me. "My wife said, 'You know, we don't need any more money, Ray. You know that, right?'"
Me: Ray, what if hypothetically you have a full-fledged love scene with Graham on the show? How will your wife react?
Ray: "First of all, don't scare Lauren Graham by asking this question. If we do have a love scene, I'll tell my wife what I always tell her, which is great marital advice.
I'll say, 'Go cry in a bag of money!'"
Me (laughing): That's horrible martial advice!
Ray: "A love scene in 'Parenhood' is not going to be like 'Last Tango in Paris.' And honestly, my wife knows who I am. That's the key to marital harmony. Know your partner! Trust them."
He also says he knows his midlifer limits.
"I'm not Matthew McConaughey taking my shirt off and jumping in bed with every woman on TV.
"It's all good as long as they don't show my butt on TV," he adds. "One butt shot and I would lose all my viewers."
TALKING TO RAY ROMANO, THE SEX SYMBOL
It's a sunny fall morning when I talk to Romano from the NBC lot where he's playing troubled photographer Hank who is stealing Lauren Graham's Sarah away from her fiancé (Jason Ritter) on the critically acclaimed drama "Parenthood."
Yes, Ray is "the other man."
"Believe me, I go on the Internet. I know I'm walking into the fire right now," he says.
What does it feel like to be a midlifer who might steal the babe from the hottie younger guy played by Ritter?
"When I got the role, I was like, 'Oh, I go up against Jason Ritter. I go up against a 30 year old stud,'" Romano laments. "I was scared ——less. And stupid me. I do go on the Internet. I'm going to have to get one of those cones that dogs wear around their necks just so I can't see."
What if the role turns him into a sex symbol?
"My wife might have an issue with things. I remember with 'Raymond,' we were watching a scene once. It was me and Patty Heaton. We were in bed, but it wasn't a love scene. We were just talking and having a conversation.
"My wife looked at that and then looked at me and said, 'You talk to her in that scene more than you talked to me this whole week.'"
"I told her, 'I have writers on the show. If I had writers at home, we would have a conversation."
RAY ROMANO ON PARENTHOOD
Romano was filming his show "Men of a Certain Age" when he started watching "Parenthood."
"I was a fan of the show. I watched the show since the beginning," Romano says of why he wanted in. "I just like the tone of it. There's nothing quite like it being done on television."
He was talking with the series creator and put out a few feelers about being on the show.
"I kind of jokingly said, 'Hey, if you ever find something for me, I work cheap."
"He took me up on it and cheap. But I'm still happy to do it," he says. "I finally said, 'what am I going to do on it?'"
He says we're going to learn more and more about his photographer character.
"It gets deeper. There will be a lot more than what you see right now," he says.
"I really like this guy. He's a flawed person," he says. "He's a troubled guy and yet I guess we're finding out the good in him."
This is a guy who is a bit awkward in life.
"He isn't Ray Barone," Romano says who adds, "Awkward I can play very well. That's in my wheelhouse. It's very easy for me to be awkward, especially around women."
As for any plot secrets, he won't say where his TV relationship with Graham's Sarah is going. Will it be a love affair that breaks up her engagement?
"She just moved in with her boyfriend," he says. "He's thrown by it."
ROMANO ON AGING
Romano still tours, which he says is his first love.
"First and foremost, I'm a comedian. I'm never really happy with myself for what I've done."
He doesn't take his success in stride.
Age has taught him that you never slow down.
"I'm always looking for something. The next thing. You never really think you got it.
"You're successful, but you don't accept and you don't really believe it," he says.
"I don't feel the bitterness. I do connect to the feeling of wanting. There's an artistic need for something…to accomplish something more," he says.
"It's not about money," he says. "My wife has all the money. This has nothing to do with money."
Ray is more about the laughs.
When he gets them, it's priceless to him.
He never stops joking – and appreciates when you set him up for a punchline.
Q: If the Bravermans from "Parenthood" and the Barones from "Everybody Loves Raymond" got into a steel cage match which family would be victorious?
"Excuse me," he says. "They have numbers on us, but we have Doris Roberts who is an animal."
"Craig T. Nelson is taller than I thought, but he's not as tall as Brad Garrett. You know, Brad is six foot eight."
"So, I'm going with the Barones, all the way," he says in a deadpan voice.