USA Today

As Marie Barone, Ray Romano’s meddling mother in the CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond, Doris Roberts has earned herself a supporting actress Emmy nomination this year.

But it isn’t her first. She received an Emmy in 1983 for her role in St. Elsewhere and was nominated four more times, including last year for her role in Raymond and in 1985 as gabby secretary Mildred Krebs in Remington Steele. Roberts has been a television regular in Remington Steele, St. Elsewhere, The Boys and Angie. Her feature film credits include The Grass Harp, Little Murders and Barefoot in the Park.

Comment from Host: Welcome to today’s chat with Emmy nominee Doris Roberts. 

Houston, TX: You play the role of “meddling mother” very well. Is there some kind of outside situation in which you can associate the role with your personal life? Have these kinds of situations happened to you, or do you know of someone with the “meddling mother” in their lives?

Doris Roberts: I think all mothers are meddling. I have certainly made the mistake. If you look at it from the way conceived Marie Barone, everything she does stems from love.

Mothers tell you what to do because they think they’re preventing you from making the wrong choice or having any pain from making that choice because they’ve lived much longer than you have and have experienced life longer than you have. And therefore they feel they have the knowledge and ability to help you make your choices.

It doesn’t mean they’re right, but it is coming from love and you have to forgive them. Most people can laugh at Marie Barone, so if you can do that you should be able to laugh at yourself and your own situations.

Harrisburg, PA: Do you feel “Everybody Loves Raymond” and its success will open the door for the return of more family oriented sit-coms?

Doris Roberts: Yes, I do. They have to be as good as we are, for them to continue.

Washington DC:
Do you draw your character from yourself, your mother or someone’s mother? Your character is so much like my mother that I almost find it scary. I tell all my friends to watch your show. I LOVE it.

Doris Roberts: My character is a combination of the mothers of Phil Rosenthal, our executive producer and writer, and Ray Romano. And also, as my son would say, he’s so glad I’m working this particular job because I can tell Raymond what to do and I don’t have to tell him! It really is a compilation of every one of us.

Washington, DC: Do you feel a real life mother should be that involved in their children’s marriages/relationships? What type of affect would it ultimately have on their relationships?

Doris Roberts: No, I don’t believe that mothers should be that involved in their children’s lives.

I think you should be involved with your children with love, concern and help (if asked), but they have their own lives to lead. And if you’re intrusive, you might build a wall between you and your daughter-in-law or son-in-law, which is not a smart thing to do.

We tend to want people to behave the way we do, but we need to accept them for who they are. That’s true love.

Kansas city, mo: i love what a strong woman yu are on the show. you’re a role model. are you that way in real life?

Doris Roberts: Yes, I am a strong woman. In real life, I’m smarter than Marie because I don’t do what she does. And I think before I speak.

Portland, TX: Since you have been successful in both comedy and drama, what differences do you find in preparing for the two genres and which do you prefer?

Doris Roberts: Comedy is harder than drama, and it’s a very interactive performance because we do it in front of a live audience. You have to know when the laughter peaks and when to begin the next line so that you don’t lose the flow or attention or the wonderful comedy.

As to preference, I love it all, and I find that I’m capable in a dramatic piece to bring laughter to it and I’m capable in a comedy piece to bring drama to it. So I have the best of both worlds.

Jacksonville, Fl: Dear Mrs. Roberts, Your on-screen rapport with the cast of “Everybody Loves Raymond” – does this also happen behind the scenes?

Doris Roberts: Absolutely. I have been in the business for over 40 years, and this is the best gig I’ve ever had.

We’re all very professional actors who trust and respect each other and enjoy the process of rehearsal. The shows you see on Monday nights are a result of all of that.

There are no ego problems on our set, and it’s a joy to go to work.

Meriden, CT: Doris, Are Ray and Deb’s children going to have more “air time” this season? Or are they still going to be more in the back-ground?

Doris Roberts: I do believe they’ll still be in the background. As this is a 9 o’clock show, the writing is geared toward an adult audience.

Chantilly, VA: What was it like to work with Pierce Bronsan?

Doris Roberts: It was great. He’s a wonderful man, and I’m happy for his success.

Cambridge, MA: I love the way you turn things around in the show to make Raymond’s poor wife look like the bad guy. Why don’t they have you straighten out your husband on the show, seems like he always gets the best lines to use on you.

Doris Roberts: You’d have to talk to the writers about that. I think I’m able to straighten him out with the withering looks I give him.

But if you had two characters going at each other with the same level, it’d be quite unpleasant, I think. It would become just bickering. And you might lose some of the comedy.

Thanks for the compliment.

Alexandria, VA: Please help! I need a quick Bundt cake recipe!

Doris Roberts: I can’t help you, try Julia Childs.

Canton,Ohio: Have you remained close to your Remington Steele co-stars?

Doris Roberts: Yes, I have. The problem is that Pierce, when he does the Bond character, films all over the world. And as Everybody Loves Raymond films in Los Angeles, that’s where I am most of the time.

Gainesville, VA: You and Peter Boyle seem so comfortable and compatible on “Raymond.” Did you know each other before the show?

Doris Roberts: No. But certainly, I respect his talent and he respects mine. It’s a perfect match. We work so well together that it’s as if we’ve known each other for 45 years.

Bellefontaine, Ohio: You are a great actress! How did you land the role as Marie?

Doris Roberts: 161 women read for this part, and I was one of them. I think it was meant for me to have this one.

Fairfax, VA: Are TV critics giving up on the sitcom format too soon? Don’t people need to laugh?

Doris Roberts: I disagree with you because TV critics have been our biggest boosters. Entertainment magazines and newspapers have been our supporters and have done so from the very beginning.

Wilkes-Barre PA: Do you hear from anyone from the “Angie” cast? If so, what are they up to?

Doris Roberts: Yes I do. I see Donna Pescow ?she’s now working on a series for cable. I see Bob Hayes occasionally. Debra Lee Scott has become an agent, and I see her on occasion as well.

Bowie, MD: Is it hard getting through a scene with the whole cast? All of you are so talented and funny and I can’t figure out how you do it.

Doris Roberts: We break up a lot and have a lot of fun doing, but when it comes time to filming it, we’re very professional. The process is always fun.

Lexington, KY: With your and ELR’s critical success, do you think that you might be typecast as a strictly comedic actor in the near future?

Doris Roberts: I hope not. I’m an actress who has luckily been working for a long time. I’ve been in the business for over 40 years. I’ve recently done a movie for CBS called One True Love in which I play dramatic role. It will be released sometime this year.

I love playing Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond, but I also want and need to be challenged by dramatic roles. I spent 20 years on Broadway before coming out to California, and they were all different kinds of characters and not necessarily comedic.

But you’re right, I need to worry that I don’t get categorized only as a comedian.

Fairfax, VA: I would love for you to get this year’s Emmy, but if you don’t, then who would you want the Emmy to go to?

Doris Roberts: Megan Mullally of Will & Grace.

Ashburn, VA: Is Ray Romano really the self-deprecating guy he portrays himself as?

Doris Roberts: Yes, he plays very close to who he is. And that’s what makes him adorable and fun to work with.

Solon, Oh: How is your cooking in real life. Do you like Italian cooking or something else?

Doris Roberts: I love Italian food. But since my husband died, I don’t do much cooking. I know how to phone for a caterer, though.

Lockport, NY: Just a comment…. My wife and I love your show, and got hooked particularly because of you and Peter Boyle. You are both tremendously talented actors. By the way, I work for a TV station and we have your show in syndication for next fall. We’re really looking forward to it! Take care and keep up the great work!

Doris Roberts: Thank you very much. And I think you will enjoy our new season, which starts Oct. 2. The opening show will be an hour long, and we filmed it in Italy. Keep watching!

Canton, Ohio: Tell us about the episodes filmed in Italy, please.

Doris Roberts: I can’t! You have to watch it. But you’ll be glad you did.

Knoxville, Tn: Someone once said the eyes are the mirror to the soul. Even with the tv muted, I can tell the nature of what you are saying by looking at your eyes. Is that all acting, or do you by nature communicate that wonderfully?

Doris Roberts: What a lovely compliment. Thank you.

I hope that applies to my life as well. I wish to communicate that clearly with people. And I agree with you that what people see in your eyes can be more important than what you’re saying.

Washington, DC: Hi Doris, You’ve been cracking me up for years, ever since I first saw you on ABC’s “Angie.” That show was a hit the first year and then fell apart. What was the deal behind that?

Doris Roberts: Someone joined ABC in a research department and claimed that the show did not have a 5-year run possibility. And as the networks need 100 episodes to be able to sell it to syndication and were afraid that we would not make the 100, they canceled us. I believe they made a big mistake.

Springfield VA: Love your show babe! If this is the best gig you’ve ever had–what was the worst?!

Doris Roberts: A film called Rabbit Test. I played Billy Crystal’s mother, and in the film he was pregnant. Enough said.

Santa Monica, California: Dear Doris: How’s it going? I wrote the “Walker, Texas Ranger” episode that you starred in a few years back and love you on “Raymond.” Robert Wynne

Doris Roberts: Hello Robert. Thanks for your good wishes, and I am indeed having a ball. Thanks for your good wishes. How are you?

Christiansburg, VA: Mrs. Roberts, you are the best. Your character is absolutely terrific and you play her with so much enthusiasm and talent. Congratulations on your nomination. Is Ray’s mother anything like how you portray her on the show?

Doris Roberts: According to Ray, yes. But I’m a combination of his and Phil Rosenthal’s mother (and I throw in a little bit of myself). That becomes the recipe for Marie Barone.

But as a result of the show, I’m learning what NOT to do with my own son. And he’s extremely happy about these results.

Omaha, NE: Any thoughts on Joe Lieberman’s campaign discussions on religion?

Doris Roberts: I think he’s fabulous. I think it’s quite clear that he is a religious man, and I respect that. I think it’s quite clear that he has great integrity and honor, and I respect that.

I think it’s quite clear that he’s an intelligent man who’s very clear about what he believe in. What you see is what you’re going to get. In politics, that kind of truthfulness is a rare commodity. Good luck Joe!

Cleveland, OH: Marie, stick with comedy! You are such a talent, never over the top in your performance — truly a character that many people can relate to. Are there any roles you were rejected for that you wish you had had the opportunity to play? If so, could you name them?

Doris Roberts: In theater, I would have loved to have played Come Back Little Sheba. In film, I would have loved to have played Olympia Dukakis’ role in Moonstruck. In television, I would have loved to have been Lucy’s sidekick.

But in the meantime, I’m having a great time playing Marie Barone.

Chicago, IL: Please tell me you and Patricia Heaton get along better behind the scenes than in front of the camera… having a ‘difficult’ mother in law myself – I often empathize with her character. 🙂

Doris Roberts: No question, Patty and I are good friends. We enjoy each other’s company; we laugh at our characters. When we’re rehearsing we even break up. She’s a terrific woman and a fabulous actress. Try to find the humor in your own situation, and realize that your intrusive mother-in-law thinks she’s helping.

Comment from Doris Roberts: Thanks to all the fans out there. Keep watching because this new year promises to be the best ever. The opening show for the season, Oct. 2, will be an hour show that we filmed in Italy. It’s not only funny with all the things we do, but it’s so beautiful. I know you’ll enjoy it. Thank you for your support, and keep laughing!

Comment from Host: Looks like we’re out of time. Thanks for all the great questions and comments, and a special thank you to Doris Roberts for joining us today.