On Friday, the cast of “The King of Queens” reunited for a charity reunion that included a table read of one of their favorite episodes from the show, episode 19 from season five titled “Cowardly Lion.” The cast also paid homage to the late Jerry Stiller, who portrayed Arthur Spooner in the beloved sitcom.
To kick-off the reunion, Kevin James and Leah Remini sat down virtually and immediately revealed that the two have stayed in touch since the show went off the air in 2007. In reminiscing about the show, the two stars exchanged their first impressions of one another before Remini was cast as Carrie Heffernan opposite of James.
“We were looking for the female lead, the lead of the show, and we couldn’t find anybody," James said. "And I did a fake table read with Tony Danza... and Leah was there and I was literally in love. I was like this girl is amazing, she’s so funny and this and that. But the problem was, she was on a show already.”
“What happened was I was just coming off of a show that got canceled, so I go in, I meet you, Kevin, and you immediately started making fun of me, going, ‘I’m sorry, were you busy collecting unemployment? I’m sorry, did we interrupt all that to offer you a job?’" Remini recalled. "And immediately I was like I don’t even care what the script is, I just love this guy so much and I was like yes.”
James continued, adding, “I remember you coming in and being a little like, ugh, but having to do it."
"I was still nervous but I was like I gotta do this," he explained. "It’s either gonna work or it’s not gonna work. You were either going to get very mad at me and that’s that, but it worked.”
“Sometimes you just have an instant connection with people," Remini said.
James added, “I knew right away, we hit off right away and that was it. The best.”
“He is one of the rare, rare men in this town that I want to work with and I would do anything with," Remini said of James. "Kevin was always the man saying, give Leah more stuff, give Jerry more stuff, give them the laughs. That’s very giving.”
Later in the reunion, more members of the cast gathered virtually to reflect on the life of Stiller and their time spent with him over the course of the show. After the end of the table read, they acknowledged the late veteran actor who passed away last year at age 92 from natural causes. They aired a short video that honored his comedic style throughout the show’s run and also included some celebrity cameos, including his children, Ben Stiller and Amy Stiller, Ray Romano and Ricki Lake.
“Jerry was very much the role behind the scenes,” Remini recalled of Stiller, who played her father on the show. “He was the dad, he was the one in his undershirt after the show wrapped. Jerry could have been in the first scene and they said, 'It's OK for you to go. You don't have to stay all night while we're filming,' and he would stay.”
James chimed in with a touching story about the late actor, explaining, “He cared so much about you.”
"I miss him so much, he's just the greatest," James added. “Like Ben said in the (video), a lot of people see him how he acts, the cranky old man yelling and screaming, but it was the opposite of who he was. He's an angel. He was a great man.”