Ray Romano for “Ice Age: The Meltdown”

Everyone still loves Ray Romano – at least as that big, woolly and son-to-be-extinct mammoth. A self-confessed American Idol fan, Ray Romano is as busy now as he was during his near 10-year old stint on the sitcom that sailed into history, about which he has no regrets, as he explained ton Paul Fischer among many things.

Question: As a stand up comedian, do you find that it is easier to get in the booth and kind of be by yourself playing off an imaginary other person as you do in Ice Age?

Romano: Yeah, yeah I mean I’ve never done it with another actor but I would assume it is better. In the first one we always wanted to get John [Leguizamo] and I in a booth together and we never could and I would think there would be something we would find in playing off each other that you’d get that you can’t get by yourself. I mean I can improvise a little bit with the director giving me the lines but it would be nice …you look at the stuff that Eddie Murphy did and Robin Williams, I don’t know if they did that alone or in a booth.

Question: How reluctant were you to take this on?

Romano: Well the script was the whole thing. I mean when they said Ice Age 2 I wasn’t reluctant, but I just wanted to make sure the same people were involved, it has got to look as good, it has got to be as good, directed as good and the script has got to be a story. So I read the script I thought oh I get a girlfriend [laughter]. That’s how sad it is in my life, I live vicariously through my cartoon.

Question: Through a mammoth girlfriend?

Romano: Through a mammoth cartoon yeah. But yeah the script was fun and I thought all right this will be good so lets do it yeah.

Question: Did you draw anything else to play him the second time around;

Romano: No I mean he was the same person, he was a little more mellow I guess cause he excepted the kind of his tribe and where he was and then when he meets the woman I really didn’t have to draw any on anything cause as awkward as he is with women that is very organic for me to play not being able to talk to woman yeah. So that was fun, that was actually the part of it was seeing this different side of Manny cause I just didn’t want to do the whole movie yelling and screaming at Sid and this and that you know. This was a great part that nobody sees that as secure as he is he doesn’t know what to do around women.

Question: So you could identify with that?

Romano: Too much yeah, yep. Absolutely was very easy to play that part.

Question: One of the things that you said during interviews towards the end of your TV show was that one of the things that you missed or wished that you could change was that you could spend more time with your kids when you were doing the TV show. Now that it is over do you find that you’re getting that?

Romano: Yeah that was a big mistake [laughter]. No I’m kidding. Yeah well when the TV show was over I had tons of time and yeah there were things I missed their little school things and baseball games and a couple of birthday parties here that I never miss now, but I still want to work. I mean my family is first and foremost but it took a while after the show had ended, it took 3 or 4 months to realise how much I missed the creative part of it, which is one of the reasons I am doing stand up now is just to get that juice going you know.

Question: Do you miss the show?

Romano: Miss the show? Yeah, yeah I miss it tremendously yeah.

Question: Do you feel that it was the right time for it to end though…I mean you don’t have regrets about it actually ending, but just obviously you miss the people…

Romano: No, yeah I don’t regret if I did it all again I would make the same decision, but it is still…it really hit me hard like about 4 months after cause you have got to remember I was doing stand up, I was doing 11 years of stand up every night in New York city I was performing and maybe 6 nights a week at least, Friday and Saturday in Manhattan I would do 5 shows on Saturday…7 show Saturday yeah this was every single night of my life. The show comes along, move to LA and you’re in this submarine and in this bubble 24 – 7 it is the show, creating ba boom boom, over. All of a sudden it is over and it is like…it was literally like I didn’t even feel like I lived here but it just feels like I came here to do a job for 9 years and all of a sudden all the people, the relationships you had on the show are gone, we had this great bond in the writers room, I still see them here an there but it’s a big loss. It doesn’t really register and then after a while your body just reacts to this lack of everything you had. So I mean my shrink said when the show was ending, ‘why don’t you come twice a week?’ And I was like why, I’m happy are you crazy this is great.

Question: Several years after a hit show ends that the networks are always trying to get a former hot show to do a reunion. Would you rule it out?

Romano: I would say now if I was a betting man that that would not happen cause Phil Rosenthal and I both agree we don’t want to anything cheesy or that’s going to taint the way we went out. We went out on top, we went out at the right time and why come back and have a bad taste in your mouth just for a pay cheque for a show whatever. If we did a reunion show we should do it now and show it in 10 years just so everybody still looks good.

Question: Apart from the stand up what are you doing to fill the void then?

Romano: Well I mean I have an office I go there we’ve got these projects which that are kind of in the works, I have…did I speak about the documentary that is coming up?

Question: No.

Romano: We have a stand up documentary film that did, which is coming out April 7th…

Question: Called?

Romano: Its called 95 Miles To Go, and it was during one of the hiatus during Raymond. We went on a tour one of the writers and we drove from Miami up to Savannah and we did like 7 cities. He wanted to film it all, so I put a film student in the car with us and we filmed 130 hours of footage. Think Film is distributing it and it will be out April 7th in 2 theatres. I could actually drive you there if you want to go. It is so weird Ice Age is going to come out in 3000 theatres; we are averaging 1500 theatres between the 2 of us. So we’ve been working on that I’m looking at film, I’m looking at scripts, I meet with directors and writers and there is couple of films that will be in development here there, I would say if I had to choose what I want to do next it would probably be a good film that people see.

Question: What happened to the Meat Salesman movie? it is going right to video.

Question: Why?

Romano: I don’t know, like I don’t know we put time into it…I put my own money into it and the studio I think they weren’t getting what they thought they were getting, they thought they were getting a big buddy comedy with me an Kevin and we knew it was this dark twisted comedy kind of Pulp Fictionist kind of comedy…we wouldn’t say comedy but it was good but I guess it wasn’t marketable, I don’t know, I don’t know what happens there.

Question: What’s it called?

Romano: It’s called Grilled…It’s Kevin James and I and we play a door-to-door meat salesman, yeah.

Question: It sounds like great idea.

Romano: It sounds…well see that is the problem it sounds, it sounds sillier than it really it. We get involved in this crime, I thought it came out good it is just I guess it all comes down to what they can market and what they can’t market

Question: Would you ever go back to series television? I’m not even just talking about a situation comedy but maybe even like a Sopranos or something?

Romano: Oh yeah I would love to do that…

Question: Completely dark character that would really surprise people.

Romano: Yeah. If I thought I could do it and it was a good script. You have to know your limitation but I would like to challenge myself that way yeah. The problem is getting a director or a writer to take that leap of faith with you because they only see you as this and the perception of you is so what they know. So I think there is like a weaning you’ve got to do a slightly dark comedy and then a little more and then you do Hannibal Lector, [laughter].

Question: Are you looking actively looking for something like that ?

Romano: I’m just looking at scripts my agent sends me dark comedies, he sends me straight dramas, he sends me broad comedies and if they’re good they’re good you know, a broad comedy done well is great, a high concept comedy… the movie Big is one of my favourite movies for me it is like a classic. So anything done well…executed well I’m not ruling out any genre except for musical I won’t do it, I’m not going to do a musical.

Question: What are your favourite TV shows then?

Romano: 24 I watch.

Question: And is 24 your favourite show on TV right now or?

Romano: It’s my favourite drama that’s the one I watch. I’m a little geeky with television, I watch American Idol…

Question: So do I,

Romano: Yeah, but I can out geek you though I watch Canadian Idol, I’m not kidding…

Question: Where do you watch that?

Romano: I get the tapes Fed X to me…

Question: You’re kidding?

Romano: Yeah [laughter]…

Question: Did your kids turn you on to that?

Romano: No I turned them onto it.

Question: Why do you watch Canadian Idol?

Romano: Yeah. This goes back to my awkwardness with women. When I was in Toronto filming Mooseport that’s when it was on…Canadian Idol was on so at the end of the day I would watch it I got sucked into it then the film ended and they were down to like the last 8 people and I go you’ve got to forward me the tapes, they Fed X them and they asked me do a commercial for them, I did a commercial, I did a promo for them, and then the following year it came up again and I said yes send them. I watch it with my kids you know, there is like 4 shows I watch with my kids – American Idol, Survivor…what else do I watch…

Question: 24.

Romano: 24 I watch with the older kids and even that gets a little hairy for them yeah, and Amazing Race we watch yeah.

Question: Who do you think will win American Idol this year then?

Romano: Yeah they are going to be at the premier today all the American Idol contestants are going to be…

Question: That will be exciting for you…

Romano: Yeah…

Question: You’re more excited about that probably…

Romano: Yeah, yeah, yeah I am. I don’t know I like the guy Taylor Hicks the grey haired guy…I don’t think he’ll win though, I wish he would. It will probably be either the pretty guy or the pretty girl.

Question: Have you signed up for the third Ice Age? I mean I know there is apparently a script for the third one.

Romano: Is there a script? I didn’t even know about it and I’m not doing it.

Question: Okay…

Romano: This is a negotiating ploy [laughter]. I’m not doing it I don’t need it. No look if the script is good then I’ll do it yeah. We will have a kid right me and Queen Latifah?