Ray Romano stars as Leo Russo in Somewhere in Queens, which will be released in theaters on April 21. He also serves as a screenwriter, producer, and takes on the role of director for the first time.
Leo Russo (Ray Romano) lives a simple life in Queens, New York with his wife Angela (Laurie Metcalf), their shy but talented son “Sticks” (Jacob Ward), and Leo’s close-knit network of Italian-American relatives and neighborhood friends. Happy enough working at the family construction business alongside his father (Tony Lo Bianco) and younger brother (Sebastian Maniscalco), Leo lives each week for Sticks’ high-school basketball games, never missing a chance to cheer on his only child as he rules the court as a star athlete. When the high-school senior gets a surprising and life-changing opportunity to play basketball in college, Leo jumps at the chance to provide a plan for his future, away from the family construction business. But when sudden heartbreak threatens to derail Sticks, Leo goes to unexpected lengths to keep his son on this new path.
“Yes, I would do it again if I write another script,” he shared when I asked about directing more in the future. “I don’t have to write as personal a script, but if it’s my vision, even with my writing partner, and we’re attempting to write another one now, but it can’t take this long. It can’t take seven years. But if that ever happens, I would do it again. Now, it may be a big surprise that it doesn’t go as smoothly as this did cause this — my actors were great, my crew was great, my cinematographer was great and you know, as a first time director, I think I got pretty lucky in that category. But I would take it on again and just hope I get that same luck.”
“That [the family theme] comes out of writing what I know about, you know? My stand up is all about my family. Everybody Loves Raymond was all about family. It’s following that advice to write what you know and what you said is true, you make it specific, so yes, the Italian American community is going to identify with every moment in it, but it’s also going to be universal because that’s the way families are,” Romano explains. “The core of it, underneath it all, what the families want for each other and what the mother wants and what people are afraid of, and the angst and the anxiety they go through, that’s all the same for everybody. So everybody can see themselves in that.”
We had an amazing conversation about the filmmaking process, why stories that highlight the family dynamic are always so relatable to audiences, which shows spoke to him while growing up, and much more!
Watch my full interview here: