Martin Scorsese is known for his vast knowledge of cinematic history, as well as a wealth of world cinema. One area that probably isn’t his specialty is television, and particularly sitcoms. So that would help explain how, before Scorsese worked with comedian Ray Romano, he had no idea who he was. Romano is best known for the long-running comedy series Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005), which had over 200 episodes.
Romano told Marc Maron on his podcast that “Scorsese did the pilot [of HBO series Vinyl] 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.'”
“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. I can buy that, that Martin Scorsese doesn’t watch television. So when he hired me, he liked what he saw.”
Scorsese ended up being so impressed with Romano in drama series Vinyl that he cast him again in The Irishman. Romano says that he wasn’t sure how impressed either Scorsese or Robert De Niro were with him at first. “I had one pretty big scene with De Niro in that. 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, 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. Well, I think it’s good. It’s the mafia so you never know!” It must feel good to get the seal of approval from one of the best actors of all time.
If you’re like Mr. Scorsese and aren’t sure where to begin with television, check out our guide to the best TV series.