Doris Roberts, Our House
After nine years — and four Emmy wins! — as Everybody Loves Raymond
's exasperating Marie, Doris Roberts
decided to mix things up a bit. She returned to the big screen in the semi-raunchy Grandma's Boy
, then switched from tickling funny bones to warming hearts with the Hallmark Channel movie Our House
(premiering Saturday at 9 pm/ET). Roberts spoke with TVGuide.com about her real-life-tinged turn as a wealthy widow who opens her manse to the homeless, as well as her upcoming reunion with her TV son, Ray Romano
TVGuide.com: So after years of making everybody laugh on Everybody Loves Raymond, you're making people feel all warm inside with Our House.
Doris Roberts: It's a wonderful movie that will maybe open some eyes to homeless people. We're all prejudiced against them. I know that when I drive up to a red light and there's a homeless person on the corner, I get very busy with my radio or something; I refuse to make eye contact, when the worst thing it could cost me is a buck. Even if you didn't give them the money, give them a smile. My late husband, William Goyen, was a wonderful writer and he wrote something that I loved and put in the film: "When we shun homeless people, we take away their light."
TVGuide.com: As I walk to work through Times Square, I'll oftentimes throw some change to this homeless organization that sets up a table.
Roberts: You have to realize that many of these people were in hospitals with mental disorders, and our wonderful president at the time threw them out. Now they're just wandering around.
TVGuide.com: Judy Reyes (Scrubs) was excellent in the movie, and hers was not an easy role [as the first homeless woman whom Roberts' character befriends]. Did you like working with her?
Roberts: Don't you think Judy is wonderful? I loved working with her, I really did.
TVGuide.com: What other causes are you involved with?
Roberts: I have an organization for which I've been the chairperson for 14 years, the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation. We put a benefit on at Halloween in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and I do a comedy night — this year we're going to do it on April 8 with Ray Romano, Kevin James, Garry Shandling....
TVGuide.com: How in the world did you get Ray Romano? Do you "know someone who knows someone"?
Roberts: [Laughs] We're sewn at the hip, my dear.
TVGuide.com: I didn't get a chance to see Grandma's Boy, but when I interviewed Shirley Jones, she said the three of you (with Shirley Knight) had a great time.
Roberts: We did have a great time. I don't want my grandkids to see the movie — it was a lot racier than I thought it would be — but we had a great time!
TVGuide.com: Tell me about the film you have out in May, Keeping Up with the Steins.
Roberts: I play Gary Marshall's ex-wife and I have to tell you, everything about him is funny. I adore him. I enjoy his enthusiasm.
TVGuide.com: Reflecting on your long career, what do you consider your "big break"?
Roberts: The big break I got was Bad Habits, a  Broadway play by Terrence McNally. Lily Tomlin saw me in it and brought me out to Hollywood to do [her comedy special]. We won an Emmy that year, but we weren't picked up. They picked up Howard Cosell instead. [Laughs] Welcome to showbiz!
TVGuide.com: Of course, every time I have dry turkey, I always flash back to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and the dinner scene.
Roberts: That was a fun shoot. E.G. Marshall, John Randolph and I would go to lunch every day and it was hysterical. E.G. and John would have these conversations, like, "What was the name of the guy with the group theater...?" And I'd help them with the name. They'd go, "Yeah, yeah... who's he married to?" I just laughed. It was wonderful.
TVGuide.com: Brad Garrett has a fall pilot, Patricia Heaton's got a pilot, and Ray, I see, is stuck doing comedy shows for you. Might you ever go back to a series-regular gig?
Roberts: No, we haven't gotten to that point yet. I'll tell you something that blew me away. I was in New York last week and I saw Jersey Boys. We had wonderful seats — dead center, row G — and as I came down the aisle, a group of people who saw me stood up and started to applaud. I've never had this happen to me in my entire life. The entire audience seated in the orchestra stood and applauded me. I cried like a fool. I couldn't stop.
TVGuide.com: See what a couple of years on a TV show will get you?
Roberts: [Laughs] There's something about Marie that really touches people. Raymond is now in 171 countries around the world.
TVGuide.com: Have you heard any of the translated versions of yourself?
Roberts: Yes, and the woman in [the French version] is wrong — her voice is too high. I went on a cruise to South America once, and in every city I visited, people would scream my name and say, "I love you, thanks for the laughter!" Isn't that incredible? But the thing in the theater blew me away. Nothing will ever top that.