Ray Romano Shares Trailer for His Directorial Debut 'Somewhere in Queens', Inspired by His Real Life

PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the trailer for Somewhere in Queens, in which Romano stars opposite Laurie Metcalf

Ray Romano is fighting an internal fatherly battle — with his heart in the right place — in Somewhere in Queens.

PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the trailer for the upcoming dramedy, which marks Romano's directorial debut and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film is also co-written by and stars Romano, 65.

The actor plays Leo Russo, who "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," according to an official synopsis. "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," the synopsis adds. "But when sudden heartbreak threatens to derail Sticks, Leo goes to unexpected lengths to keep his son on this new path."

Speaking with PEOPLE, Romano sayshe and co-writer Mark Stegemann wanted "to write about this culture, this family, but also make it universal to everybody because that's normally what it is."

"The formula that worked with [Everybody Loves] Raymond, was it was specific to us, [as] New Yorkers, but it was family. So it didn't matter where you were from. You identified with it," he adds.

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Somewhere in Queens Trailer
Ray Romano and Laurie Metcalf in Somewhere in Queens (2023). Mary Cybulski/Courtesy Roadside Attractions

A real-life father of four, Romano says the story is somewhat based on his own experience growing up in Queens, New York, as well as a similar dynamic he had with his youngest son Joseph Romano, now 25, who played basketball in high school.

"He was graduating and it was getting towards the end of his basketball career," Romano says. And while Joseph "was the center of attention" in high school, he just wasn't "college-basketball material."

"I used to love going to the games, and I would live vicariously through him with all the excitement," he adds, joking, "I mean, it's kind of sad that I needed more excitement in my life. I was a TV celebrity."

Romano recalls "tearing up" while hugging Joseph's coach during the last game of his son's high-school career, and enjoying "that I had the son who was one of the stars of the basketball team."

"And my thought was, what if this [movie] was about a guy who, that's all he had — he felt invisible in his real life and the only time he felt any kind of purpose or attention was through his son and the basketball, and it was ending?" he tells PEOPLE. "And that was the jumping-off point of the story."

Somewhere in Queens Trailer
Cast of Somewhere in Queens (2023). Mary Cybulski/Courtesy Roadside Attractions

He also "added other elements" to the script that he took from his real life, such as his son's struggle with anxiety and his wife of 35 years, Anna, being a breast-cancer survivor. (In the film, Leo's wife Angela — played by Metcalf, 67 — is also a cancer survivor.)

"So I injected all that as much as I could. And then we also wrote characters and wrote story, but most of it came from a real place," Romano says.

Asked what it was like working along another sitcom veteran in Metcalf, who made waves on Roseanne and stars in its current sequel series The Conners, Romano admits he was "intimidated to meet" her at first, "but she was wonderful."

He also said the crew knew how much of a "pro" Metcalf was in both comedic and dramatic roles (e.g., Lady Bird), and "trusted" the Midwest-raised actress "more than she trusted herself" in being able to convey "a believable East Coast working-class woman."

"She actually went to a dialect coach," Romano adds of the multi-time Tony Award- and Emmy Award-winning actress.

Somewhere in Queens Trailer
Poster for Somewhere in Queens (2023). Courtesy Roadside Attractions

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Despite boasting a successful 30-plus-year career in film and television, Romano has never directed until now. "I was scared, to be honest," he tells PEOPLE.

"On Everybody Loves Raymond, I guess I had an opportunity if I wanted to, but I didn't really have the desire," he explains. "I was more concerned with the writing and my own stuff. I didn't really feel like it was important that I direct one of those episodes. And with my other shows, it just never happened."

Romano also says he "felt we had very capable, good directors," on Raymond, adding, "And I was maybe a little bit gun shy to tell an actor what to do."

"But then with [Somewhere in Queens], it was such a personal thing, and my agent was the first one to suggest it to me to direct," he recalls. "I told them my concerns, the technical side of it. And he just [advised me], 'Surround yourself with a good cinematographer, a good [assistant director], and you'll be okay. And you know what you'd like to see.' "

"And I know every bit of what we want to get from the story and from the actors," Romano adds. "That is what I was: I devoted all my energy into getting what we envisioned out of the performance and let the actor also bring whatever they wanted to bring to it."

Somewhere in Queens, from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, is in theaters April 21.

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