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Brad Garrett Reveals a Magic Moment on Bupkis with Joe Pesci and Pete Davidson
No, it's not the Bupkis scene you think, but it came close.
For nine seasons, most people got to know actor Brad Garrett for playing Robert Barone, Ray Romano's uptight brother in the hit sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond. But a whole new generation is going to discover Garrett for his role as Uncle Roy in Peacock's Bupkis.
In the series, Uncle Roy is a lifelong family friend of the Davidson clan of Staten Island. He's a character created for the series by Pete Davidson, his co-creators Judah Miller and Dave Sirus to help flesh out the close-knit family members that the Pete character turns to as he struggles with his celebrity.
Garrett tells NBC Insider that Davidson reached out to him about the role, and sent him the pilot script to woo him to the series.
"I got the script and it was crazy, laugh out loud, inappropriate type of stuff," Garrett said. "And it's kind of in my wheelhouse. But what really made me feel very grateful was the amount of heart that was in the scripts."
The first episode also features an outrageous scene where Uncle Roy gets intimate with a woman whose services were initially purchased for show Pete's grandfather, played by Joe Pesci. Grandpa declines, but Uncle Roy says yes...and then his back goes out during the deed. It prompts Pete to "assist" in a scene that will go down in infamy for everyone involved.
"For a guy like me, in most things I do, they beg me to keep my shirt on," Garett joked about the scene.
He does admit that he asked Davidson and his team about what he would have to show on camera.
"I'm like, 'I don't have to show my butt, right?' And they went, 'Oh, God, no! We're trying to stay on the air.'"
If the scene wasn't awkward enough for the audience, Garrett shared that it was also the very first time he met the cast and crew.
"I had never met any of these people, so it was intense," the actor said with a laugh. "But I believe that the best comedy comes from a fearless freedom."
He adds that it did lead to one of his very favorite memories on set in which the cast circled around the piano watching Pesci sing.
"That was an improv that Pesci started as we were waiting for the cameras to be set up," Garrett revealed. "He sat down at this piano that was just on the set in the suite. Nobody knew he played. He started singing 'Magic Moment.' We all were standing around waiting. And sure enough, they're filming it. It was magic and that's where the title of the pilot came from."
Season 1 of Bupkis features a lot of great moments with Garrett's Uncle Roy. Another highlight comes in Episode 7, "Borgnine," which begins with Roy saying a eulogy that, for a minute, tricks the audience into thinking Pesci's character had passed away. Instead, it's revealed to be a funeral for Roy's beloved pooch.
But Garrett says he too was fooled the first time he read the script.
"When I read it, I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, no! There's no way Joe can leave!' And then when I found out it was for the dog, I went, 'Wow, this is just such great writing,'" he said.
Garrett says that particular scene was also his opportunity to show another side of his character, which Davidson encouraged.
"They were like, 'Do your thing. And we'll go from there.' It takes a real confidence to let people come on a new show, and for Pete to go, 'Try to do what you want.' It's a collaboration that you expect from someone much older, and with much more experience. But the trust he has, I think, in his own craft — which I wish I had that at his age, or now — is infectious."
Bupkis also features Garrett's former sitcom brother, Ray Romano, in a recurring role as the devil on Pete's shoulders. Garrett remembers when he called Ray to tell him about landing the Roy role.
"I thought, maybe, I'd finally have one up on Ray," the actor laughs. "In real life, we're very close but we're competitive. I was like, 'Hey, Ray, I was just sent this incredible [script].' And he says, "Oh, was it Bupkis? Yeah, I'm doing it too. I'm playing the devil."
Garrett says he and Romano were both happy they weren't put in any scenes together because of the Raymond association.
"Pete's too smart to do that," the actor joked. "But [Ray] stayed an extra day. We had dinner and we went to a Yankee game that was rained out."
However, Garrett is very happy he got to work alongside one of his personal idols, Joe Pesci, throughout Season 1.
"Meeting him is something," the actor said with some awe. "First thing he said to me is, 'I don't talk to anybody over six-two.' So I immediately sat on the floor."
He also remembers a scene with Pesci in "Crispytown" that forever captures a personal faux pas he'll have to live down. He says it happened during the scene in Florida at the Cuban restaurant.
"I'm not proud of this, but I'm not the most well-read dude in the world. And I think everyone knows that," he deadpanned.
"I did say 'cuisine' incorrectly," he continued about the scene that made it into the final cut. "It came out wrong. So when Joe was like, 'What did you just say?' None of that was on the page. So now, I'm a bonafide idiot. It's on film,"
He concluded: "I don't know how to say 'cuisine.' I thought when he was correcting me, he was busting my chops. But, you know, I'm now taking English lessons from Joe Pesci."
All eight episodes of Bupkis Season 1 are streaming now on Peacock.