Patricia Heaton Opens Up About the Time She Almost Quit Acting (Exclusive)

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Patricia Heaton
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With her beloved roles on Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle, Patricia Heaton is one of Hollywood's most celebrated and recognizable sitcom stars. However, the actress said she once came very close to giving up on her acting dream all together.

While gearing up for the premiere of her new TV comedy, Carol's Second Act, Heaton and her new co-star, Kyle MacLachlan, sat down with ET's Leanne Aguilera at the 2019 Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, and reflected on how the course of their careers was almost very different.

In Carol's Second Act, Heaton stars as Carol Kenney, a 50-year-old woman who starts her life over by pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor, after raising her children, going through a divorce and retiring from teaching.

According to the two-time Emmy winner, her brush with a major life-defining career change came much earlier on in life. "When I had been in New York for about nine years, and I just couldn't get arrested! I had to produce my own plays in order for me to hire myself," she 

"And I almost didn't hire myself!" she added with a laugh, explaining that things got to the point where she decided to uproot and move across the country to the other coast.

"So I went to L.A. and that was sort of my last ditch [effort]," she recalled. "I was saying, 'If something doesn't happen, or start happening, in two years, I need to go back to school and get a degree that's worth something. And try to make something of my life.'"

In something of a full-circle coincidence, the first real TV work Heaton landed, which staved off her plans on giving up on her acting dream, was on the ABC drama Thirtysomething, in which she had a recurring role as an oncologist. Now, three decades later, Heaton is back in scrubs playing a doctor once again in Carol's Second Act.

"It's always darkest before the dawn, and that's kind of where I was," Heaton reflected. "Thankfully, I hung in till the dawn."

For MacLachlan, he was faced with the stark realization of the possibility that he might have to change his career plans came after his debut film role, starring as the lead in David Lynch's divisive and critically panned sci-fi epic Dune in 1984.

"There was a long period of time where it was difficult to get a job," MacLachlan remembered, recalling that he didn't work again "until David Lynch hired me for Blue Velvet," two years later.

"Sometimes, what I have found, is that it's one encouraging word from someone that can make the difference as to whether you go forward or to give it all up," Heaton said. "It's super important to have encouragement, from people who you trust."

"Yeah," MacLachlan said, nodding in agreement. "Because they can see something that maybe you don't see, or don't believe yet."

Heaton and MacLachlan's new medical comedy Carol's Second Act -- which also stars Ashley Tisdale, Ito Aghayere, and Jean-Luc Bilodeau -- premieres Sept. 26 at 9:30 p.m ET/PT on CBS.

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