I was born in 1973. So my childhood had a mixture of the perfect 80’s hair and mixed tapes of Duran Duran and Madonna to New Kids on the Block and MC Hammer to the transition into the 90’s with my short hair and Boys II Men and Color Me Bad, to Mariah Carey and N*Sync CDs. One of the hit shows on television at the time was ABC ‘s Roseanne. It was one of the shows that I watched as a freshman in high school. I remember it well. Starting tonight, Roseanne is back on ABC with the original cast and all new episodes. At the end of last year, I was fortunate enough to join some fellow bloggers and be one of the first press groups to visit the set and take photos, ask questions and enjoy our time hanging out in the Connors family home with the kids, now adults. It was one of those experiences I will always remember, but probably will still feel like a dream, for guys, I was on the set of Roseanne!
Roseanne Set Photos and Exclusive Cast Interview
So we sat down for an interview with Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman, and Lecy Goranson before we explored the set. After you check out all my fun photos make sure to read the whole candid interview below.
SARA GILBERT, MICHAEL FISHMAN, LECY GORANSON
So this is all sorts of nostalgic awesomeness. Can you tell us where you are in shooting, where does the story pick up from where it left off?
Sara: So, we’ve shot seven episodes. And we’ve got two more to go. And regarding storylines, I mean it’s 20 years later, but we’re kinda picking up where our head writers thought our characters were.
So to catch up anyone that hadn’t seen the original series, Dan, the father played by John Goodman died. He is back, so there’s an obvious question of, well, how?
Sara: Well, Dan is alive. [LAUGHS]
Michael: He’s alive. I think for the most part all of the main crux the show remains intact. We’ve done a good job of kind of acknowledging kind of where we went towards the end of the show but within context. It’ll all make sense for fans. I think it’s a really quick kind of recap in the first episode.
I think the writers did a really good job of explaining where we are now and how it kind of fits in the transition. It’s pretty clean, but as you can see —
Sara: You can look at the see we’re poor. (LAUGHS Pointing to the set behind them)
Michael: Yeah. So, I think it’s, for fans without giving everything away; it’s much closer probably to the core of the show, the majority. And as you can see from the set, kinda the time period is appropriate for that.
How did it feel to come back to the set like 20 years later?
Lecy: It still feels like a family. You know, it feels like going home. I’m from outside of Chicago. When you walk in your front door, and you think, “oh, yeah,” this is that feeling. That’s how I felt here, especially when I see these faces and I hear Roseanne’s voice piercing [LAUGHS] through the set. You know, it really just feels that way.
And, you know, sometimes I’m driving to work, and I think there’s like this kind of ‘90s revival going on in general, so I’m listening to a song, some like grunge song or something like that. And then I’ll show up to work, and I’ll think like what. Am I stuck in some time warp [CHUCKLES] or something like that, you know?
So, what was your reaction when the idea of coming back was pitched to you?
Michael: We have Sara largely to thank for that. I think a big part of this kind of initiated with what John and Sara did on The Talk. Then Sara really has kinda taken the ball and run with this and kinda brought everybody together. She’s kind of modest in that standpoint, but she really has been a very pivotal part of that. I think we’re all really thankful that we got this opportunity to all be together again.
Lecy: I had so many questions because I’ve kinda just been living my life and, of course, Roseanne’s been a huge part of my life, my career, everything.
But revisiting I had a lot of anxiety about particular the writing, if it was gonna be good if it was gonna feel like the show. What was it gonna look like? What was it gonna be like? I had so many questions. Then when I showed up to set, and we were around the table, and we were reading, I just felt so relieved and so connected and grounded in our world again. And it was just such a moving, beautiful thing. I’m like about to cry. [LAUGHS]
So, why did you feel that now was the right time? What do you want this new generation that never saw the original show to get from the new Roseanne?
Sara: I think in one respect it was an incredible time to do it because I felt like our country is so divided. And I feel like this is a working-class family that can have varying political views even within the family but still loves each other. And I thought what a great way to try to help unite people, have people listen to each other. You know, I strongly believe that we can disagree without being so divided. So, I’m hoping that we can help in that way.
And then it was also just a matter of synchronicity. I think none of us really thought that everybody would be onboard. And when I heard John say that he would do it, then it just motivated me to see if everyone would do it. So, it is sort of this wonderful time in our country to do it, but that just was a lucky byproduct of the fact that we all wanted to do it at this moment.
Can you share with us a favorite moment in this filming this season?
Sara: Well, I personally have loved some of my moments with Lecy. I feel like our characters have gotten older obviously, and because I was a child when we did it before my relationship with John and Roseanne’s characters, with Dan and Roseanne, were different. I was a young child. They were the parents. And now it’s a little more like peers, our relationship. So that’s changed. But my relationship with my siblings is the same. So, I love that feeling that there’s the same kind of like snarky, contentious [LAUGHS] answer, but then we also love each other and bail each other out of hard situations.
Can you tell us a little bit about each of your characters, where you are? Are you married? Do you have children?
Lecy: Becky is a widow. And she is a waitress. And she really likes to drink.
Sara: Because she’s a widow.
Lecy: But I also think she’s very strong, you know, despite — I mean she’s struggling, but she’s fighting. She’s fighting to have her life together. And she’s a little arrested, but she’s working on it. A little bit of arrested development, which happens [LAUGHS] to some of us. But that’s where Becky’s at.
Sara: And Darlene is a single parent. David has been in and out slightly, over the years, and I don’t think she’s fully moved on when our season starts. But she’s just been getting by with these two kids, and she’s moved back home. She, you know, she always dreamt of being a writer, and that dream, as happens in life, you sort of can get knocked down the totem pole. And you’re like, okay, well, my dream was to be up here, and now I’m here, and now I’m here and now I’m here.
So, I think part of her arc over the season is seeing if she’ll go back and chase that dream or take a safe path to take care of her kids.
Michael: And I think one thing that Sara’s done really well in that embodies the way that parents prioritize and take certain jobs or positions that they don’t always envision or want to. I think we can all as parents know that there are times when you end up doing things that you didn’t imagine that you would end up, but you’re making the best of a situation, which I think most of the country will really respond to.
And I think the way Lecy handles kind of being a widow also is something. And then for my character, I’m married. I have a daughter on the show. And she’s fantastic. She has a great energy about her. DJ came outta the military and is kind of struggling to re-establish himself, which I think a lot of people in this country are in that role, both male and female. His wife is actually still active in the military.
So, there’s that juxtaposition of feeling strongly connected and proud of what you did, but a little frustrated ’cause you weren’t quite ready to move on and not sure what you wanna do next. And I think that’s also something people can really relate to. That’s the beauty of this show. I think that’s one of the things like Sara touched on is the show resonates with people because we deal with real-life topics, and it’s not always pretty, and it’s not always easy. And real life’s not.
The first table read at the very end of September is it’s this very real thing of loving the people you work with and then loving the characters and loving the show and being proud of it. I think that’s the unique part that makes it possible for all of us to come back is that we don’t just like what we did. There’s more to say. I think Sara felt like that. Roseanne really felt like there’s more to say. And then to have it resonate with you on a personal level of there’s more to do together, it’s just so much fun. It’s fun to come to work every day.
Sara: And I think something that I love about it is it’s almost like a hybrid between a comedy and a drama. It doesn’t really just feel like a sitcom. Sometimes we’re doing it it’s like, wow, this is heavy, but we handle everything with humor. But it’s exciting because we deal with all these heavy topics and you wanna be able to make an impact and help people see their stories represented on television. So, I feel really proud that I think we’re doing that at least to some degree.
Lecy: That’s how I feel too. Friday night we shoot the show, and then it’s Saturday. And I’ll just start laughing at something that happened or some joke or what happened the night before. But then I’ll be moved by something too. I always struggle thinking of something like a television show viewing it as art. But I do see our show as art because I think that’s how I feel when in relationship to art is that I feel moved, and I feel inspired and I feel it can be funny, and it stays with you. I assume I’m not alone in that and other people will feel that too. That’s what I’m hoping [CHUCKLES].
Sara: No, it’s so funny you say that because I was texting with Johnny on Saturday, ’cause we had shot this heavy episode on Friday. I was laughing and texting him that I was sitting in bed crying about the [LAUGHS] episode as if it like all really happened, you know. [CHUCKLES]
Are there going to be any guest stars? And is Sarah Chalke involved?
Sara: Yep, Sarah Chalke is involved. She’s not playing Becky, but she’s playing another role that’s linked to Becky, which is great. She’s in a few episodes. And we have James Pickens is back and Adilah Barnes. There are so many people that we had over the years, and because it’s only nine episode and we’ve added three characters, it’s already challenging to service everybody who’s here. So, we’ve gotten a couple, but I wish there were room for more. Natalie West came back as Crystal. Estelle Parsons.
Michael: I think it’s — we’ve done a great job of bringing all of — as many people as you kind of could jam into this short window. I think the beauty of it is there are a lot of stories, and the writing has been so good that the beauty of it is it’s like real life. There’s so much stuff going on in your life and there could always be more, but we have really tried to focus on the family as much as possible. And then we’ve been lucky to get the right group of people back.
So I remember hearing about a lot of inside jokes on the original show. Like, I remember hearing about I think there was a chicken shirt that everybody wore. So, are things like that back?
Sara: You can look for the chicken shirt. [LAUGHS]
Michael: It’s right out the gate. The first episode you won’t miss the chicken shirt. So, if you’re a fan of that. [LAUGHS]
Lecy: The funny thing about the chicken shirt though is that the original chicken shirt is lost somewhere — or I don’t know where it is. But what they had to do was — now you can buy a chicken shirt [LAUGHS] online. And so, they bought the chicken shirt, but they had to realign it so it would look like the original one. [LAUGHS] So, they bought one online. So, if you want a chicken shirt, you can get one [LAUGHS]. All of you guys can get one.
Who has the chicken shirt?
Sara: I think I have my meat stinks shirt in storage. I should try to pull it out. [LAUGHS]
— TVLine.com (@TVLine) November 25, 2017
Michael: That’s the funny part too I think as we get into this is [CHUCKLES] — ’cause there are a lotta people on the crew who were here the first time around. So, the family atmosphere kind of extends not just to us in the acting circle or in the writing room, but it’s kind of the whole set. And it’s really funny, ’cause people show up with shirts from, you know, the original run that was, that were jokes then, you know.
We’ve seen the meat stinks shirt. I saw Wellman’s Plastics shirt the other day. Somebody was wearing one of the jackets we got like Season 1 or Season 2.
Sara: Oh, I was gonna say Johnny, and I had these like combat boots we used to wear, and we wore ‘em on the show. [CHUCKLES] And he sent me a picture of like guess what I found in storage. And then he wore ‘em in to wear on the show. So, if you see the boots he’s wearing they’re like from 25 years ago. [LAUGHS]
Michael, have your kids watched the old shows?
Michael: Yeah, they’ve watched the old shows. They were never obsessed with the show. They always watched it in passing, because there was such a period. What my kids always told me was, oh, it’s a really good show, and it’s entertaining. What’s fascinating for me now and I think one of the things that makes me really upbeat and excited about the show is — so my son’s 18 and my daughter’s 15. So, I have — yeah, I have —
Lecy: My God. It’s been a while. [OVERLAP]
Michael: So, I got married — I know. Mathematically that’s just barely possible. So [LAUGHS] — but I helped raise — I have a brother who’s nine years younger than me.
Sara: He was like the original teen pregnancy.
Michael: Yeah, right. Yeah, so, I’m trying to beat the odds here, people. [LAUGHS] But I brought my kids week one. And this has always been — they’ve known everybody in passing. They’ve known them as people who matter to me in my life. But the first week to come here it was really amazing because my son’s a really quiet guy, and he said, oh, you’re not bad. [LAUGHS]
And which for him is like a huge compliment. Then he said, hey, this is good. The thing that really struck me was my 15-year-old daughter turned to me and said — she goes I don’t watch a lotta TV. She goes, but I watch this. She said to me, wow, everybody’s so good. And she said I understand why you talk about them the way you do and why you love this. And I think for her it was the first time where she totally got that.
It’s the first time — she turns to me and she goes I might like to do this one day. She goes I love what you guys do. And it’s hard to explain. I think you probably have similar conversations with yours. There’s something special about this place, this group of people that it’s — and I think it shines through the television. I think you get that is — you see that we really do care about each other. You see that there is kind of back and forth. And we’re not those characters, but we definitely play off each other and joke with each other and value each other.
Lecy: It makes me laugh, ’cause I’m thinking of Sara, and my tutor is who is back [LAUGHS]. And she came on set, and she saw us together. And, you know, I’ve lived on the other coast for 20 years. So, I really haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these guys as much as I would’ve liked to. But she comes in, and she sees the set and she sees us and she bursts into tears. And Sara said, yeah, I know. You know, it’s so moving to be back here. And I said, no, Sara, she’s crying because she sees us. [LAUGHS]
Sara: And the torture we put her through.
Lecy: And we used to cause so much trouble. [LAUGHS] I’m like those are tears of trauma from being our tutor. You know, and she laughed and she was like you’re right. It’s both, you know.
“Roseanne,” the timeless sitcom that broke new ground and dominated ratings in its original run, will return to ABC with all-new episodes, in a special hour-long premiere, TUESDAY, MARCH 27 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT). “Roseanne” will air in its regular time slot, 8:00-8:30 p.m., beginning TUESDAY, APRIL 3, followed by “The Middle,” which will move to 8:30 p.m.
Featuring the complete original cast, new series regulars and notable returning guest stars, the revival will explore life, death and everything in between through the relatable, hilarious and brutally honest lens of the Conner household. With the inimitable Roseanne at its epicenter, fresh stories that tackle today’s issues and even more laughs from a brilliant cast and crew that haven’t missed a beat, audiences old and new will celebrate the homecoming of America’s favorite working-class family.
The series stars Roseanne Barr as Roseanne Conner, John Goodman as Dan Conner, Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris, Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner-Healy, Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner, Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner, Emma Kenney as Harris Conner-Healy, Ames McNamara as Mark Conner-Healy and Jayden Rey as Mary Conner. Sarah Chalke, who played the character Becky in later seasons, will also appear in another role.
Fan-favorite guest stars from “Roseanne” will reprise their roles in the revival, including Estelle Parsons as Beverly Harris, Sandra Bernhard as Nancy Bartlett, Natalie West as Crystal Anderson, James Pickens, Jr. as Chuck Mitchell and Adilah Barnes as Anne Marie Mitchell.
“Roseanne” is produced by Carsey-Werner Television. Executive producers include Roseanne Barr, Sara Gilbert, Tom Werner, Bruce Helford, Whitney Cummings and Tony Hernandez.
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I was part of the #ABCTVEvent and invited to the set of Roseanne to share this story with my readers. All opinions are my own. #DisneyPartner