“Everybody Loves Hank?” Maybe. Maybe not.
That’s the question fans will be wondering as they get to know Ray Romano’s new character, Hank Rizzoli, this season on “Parenthood.” Ray joins the cast of the NBC drama for at least 10 episodes playing a photographer who hires Lauren Graham’s character, Sarah, as his sidekick. Sarah is recently engaged to her younger beau Mark (played by Jason Ritter) but a love triangle is in the works.
“Yeah, she’s kind of caught in the middle between me and him,” Ray revealed to me on the set during filming.
Although he’s not quite sure he can live up to Ritter’s hype. “Seriously! Put Jason Ritter’s face next to mine and then look at this — you tell me. Even if he’s young for her, still ME?!”
Ray and Lauren were gearing up to film their first on-screen kiss when I was on set which Ray called “awkward” still wondering if people will buy the chemistry between Hank and Sarah. “We’ll put some romantic, emotional music to it and it will make it seem uh, more viable,” he said.
It was the show’s creator, Jason Katims, who convinced Ray to do the show after he found out Ray was fan. He had been looking for a new project ever since his most recent TNT series “Men of a Certain Age” was canceled. “I’ve been a fan of this show, “ Ray explained. “This show is probably the closest in tone for what I was doing. Just the real emotion and the real stories. I told them it’s not about money for me. So don’t worry about me. If you got something, whatever my agent tells you, whatever price my agent gives you, I’ll do better than that! And he took me up on it.”
Of course, parenthood is something Ray can connect with quite easily. He and his wife of 24 years, Anna, have four children, a daughter and three sons. Right now, all four are living at casa Romano.
“My daughter went to school, came back, graduated,” Ray explains. “Now we’re trying to figure out what she wants to do. The boys are kind of like me when I was 19, which means they have 10 more years in the house! My giant, he doesn’t know what he wants to do yet. You know, he’s 14. He wants to play volleyball and basketball and eat In-n-Out burgers.”
Sounds like just the type of stories you would see in an episode of “Parenthood.” The show returns tonight on NBC at 10pm ET/PT.