’Til Death is Brad Garrett’s starring vehicle post Everybody Loves Raymond. He plays a man married 20 years, with a daughter off to college, now settled into his boring life of compliance. He sees his newlywed neighbors as deluded and tries to share his wisdom, usually with disastrous results. Garrett talked about the show from the set.
How do you feel about marriage in real life?
“I have to be honest, my wife, God bless her, now my ex-wife, I know people make fun, they go, ‘It’s the happiest divorce in Hollywood.’ We’re huge supporters of our things and I had things and she had things. I do have to say that it seems, by looking at the writing and all of the writers are married I think but one, there is a certain angle that takes through marriage. I think what happens is you win some battles and you lose some battles. I think at the end of the day, women really do know that a dining table is going to make more sense than a pool table. But we have that chip in here that doesn’t get it like women get it. Of course, we show in the pilot that she was right all along. But I believe that there are marriages where you can have your pool table and she can have her scrapbooking room or garden or whatever it is. But when everyone has what they want, it’s not funny. There’s no conflict.
The people that have seen the show come up to me and go, ‘Gosh, we had that thing and that happened to us.’ Someone said it was a foosball table. I had something similar. When Jill and I just got married many years ago, I bought a poker table. I love to play poker and she was pregnant with Matt, our first child. I really said this, ‘I got a great poker table. I got it from the store in Vegas and it seats 12.’ She goes, ‘Where you gonna put it?’ I said, ‘I’ve got an unbelievable idea. The room between the nursery and the master bedroom, I’ll put it right in there.’ She says, ‘You’re going to put your poker table that seats 12 next to the nursery?’
We weren’t smoking in the house. I used to smoke cigars but I don’t do that. Everything stops because you got to answer to your kid and your kid goes, ‘Why do you smoke?’ So I had to stop all that. But I literally, I swear to you, played one game and I got my poker buddies there. I have the same game for 20 years. One guy went, ‘Oh, I got a straight!’ I go, ‘You gotta keep it down. I got a baby sleeping, my wife’s here.’ So that literally became a playroom immediately, and the poker table became the scrapbooking table and the chips became things that we found in the bathtub and in the pool. So there is an evolution and a great one, because it is a great playroom. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”
Do most couples have sex dreams about each other?
“I had one about you. It’s so ironic you’re here today. Absolutely. Oh gosh, sure. I had a sex dream about one of my wife’s friends. We talked and laughed about it. Again, to me, there’s nothing more exciting than a good meal. I’m at that point in my life. I gave up on sex right after the restraining order to be honest with you. I was having dinner with the woman in my dream but to a wife, that might as well be a sex dream. I think we all do that. That’s what I feel.”
Is there a lot of pressure on you for this show?
“It is. You bet. It’s a very different way of working and I’m blessed. I remember how lucky I am. I’m lucky. Look, if people watch it, great. If they don’t, hey, at the end of the day, I’ve been a lucky guy, had a great time and all you can do is do the work that sings to you and stuff you believe in. If it transforms, great. If people watch it, that’s another level. What I learned on Raymond after 25 years of doing shows that lasted two episodes was how rare it is and what a gift it is. To fire on that many cylinders is so rare and it makes you grateful. Whether you go nine years or nine episodes, it’s all, without sounding corny, it’s all a gift and a blessing because we’re doing what we want to do and it’s a lot of fun. You overthink it, you get intense, you want it better, you want to be better, I want to be better. I did stuff in last week’s show that I’m regretting as I sit here, but that’s part of the process I think.”
Did I notice a menorah on the set?
“You did. I’m going to end up playing the menorah. They tell me if you blow on the right end of it, it’s almost like a piccolo. Actually, the show runners are Jewish and I think everyone that has a parking pass here is Jewish. So they wanted Eddie to be Jewish and I’m Jewish and I figured yeah, why not? The studio was like, ‘Let’s see how it goes.’ So he’s got the menorah there to go but we kind of saw it as Joey being Italian and me being Jewish because it’s really the same except for the gunplay. Jews and Italians are very similar. So now we’ve got to be funny because with my wife it was always how much of Christmas do we do? I love Christmas. The minute I moved out of my house when I was 18, first thing I got was a Christmas tree. It was June so it was odd, but this is what I wanted. It wasn’t to get back at my family. I just loved the holiday.
To me, putting a candle in a window next to a bad piece of chocolate money was just not a holiday. It’s a death sentence is what it was. I remember looking across the street and seeing Joey Wall’s house with the Santa that was flying over the chimney and the candy canes and he actually hired little people to be the elves. This is how rich they were. They were little people that would just sit around on the lawn and play marbles. I remember God, I want a little of that cheer because all of the Jewish holidays, as good as they are, they all celebrate suffering. They do. It’s like Hannukah, ‘Oh, what does it mean?’ ‘Well, we were being persecuted and we only had oil for 7 days.’ ‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.’ What is Rosh Hashana? Well, locusts hit our farm and then we got boils and were attacked by frogs and then the rent was raised. That’s Rosh Hashana. I’m not being down about it, so I raised my kids, they know both. Mommy is Catholic; we can have the lights. But I did the lights…when the mom comes by, I changed the bulbs in the tree. They’re blue and white.”