Today is the day! Roseanne is back with great new episodes and the same cast that we all know and love. Back in December, I was able to go to LA as part of the #TheLastJediEvent with Disney. (It was an all expense paid trip in collaboration with Disney and ABC. All opinions are my own.) While we were there, we did an awesome “secret” set visit to Roseanne! It was incredible.
We were able to meet and interview Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman, and Lecy Goranson, walk around the set and take pictures of everything, including pictures with Sara, Michael, and Lecy, and to top it all off, when we were taking our group photo, Roseanne Bar herself came in and joined us.
Iconic comedy series “Roseanne” returns to The ABC Television Network on Tuesday, March 27, at 8 p.m. EDT, with nine new episodes featuring the complete original cast – Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Fishman and Lecy Goranson. Sarah Chalke, who played the character Becky in later seasons, will also appear as new character Andrea.
New cast joining the one-of-a-kind Conner family includes Emma Kenney as Harris Conner-Healy, Ames McNamara as Mark Conner-Healy and Jayden Rey as Mary Conner. With 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.
You honestly can’t turn the TV on without a rerun of Roseanne playing on at least one channel. I think this is going to be great – and I hope that they continue to do more than this one season. When I was chatting with Michael he said that the whole cast was on board to do another season, so keep your fingers crossed that it gets renewed. Here are our Roseanne interviews with Michael, Sara, and Lecy!
How long have you been shooting, and what is the new storyline?
Sara told us that they started shooting in early October. “We’ve shot seven episodes. And we’ve got two more to go. And in terms of storylines, it’s 20 years later, but we’re kinda picking up where we and our head writers basically thought our characters were.”
Are you guys deleting the last season? Are you guys moving with that storyline, or is it back to when everybody was together and…
Sara answered with a laugh “Well, Dan is alive.” Michael goes on to tell us “He’s alive. The main crux of the show remains intact. I think we’ve done a good job of acknowledging 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 recap in the first episode. I think the writers did a really good job of explaining where we are now and how it fits in the transition. It’s pretty clean, but as you can see…” Sara chimes in laughing with “we’re poor.” Michael continues “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 to that.”
How did it feel to come back to the set like 20 years later?
Lecy told us “It really feels like a family. It feels like going home. I’m from outside of Chicago, and when you walk in your front door and you think, oh, yeah, this is that feeling, and that’s how I felt here, especially when I see these faces and I hear Roseanne’s voice piercing (said while laughing) through the set. It really feels that way. 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? (said laughing) or something like that.”
What was your reaction when this was pitched to you and you had the idea coming back, and how did you feel about that?
Michael was the first to answer. He told us “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, and then Sara really has kinda taken the ball and run with this and brought everybody together. She’s kind of modest in that standpoint, but she really has been a very pivotal part of that. And I think we’re all really thankful that we got this opportunity to all be together again.”
Lecy continues with “I had so many questions. I’ve kinda just been living my life. 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? And I had so many questions. And 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.” She has to pause here because she is getting emotional. She tells us “I’m about to cry.” with a soft laugh. Sara glances at Lecy and said, “I think you are…”.
Why did you feel that now was the right time to do it? What do you want this new generation that never saw the original show to walk away with?
Sara told us “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. 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.” She really said that perfectly – I love it!
Can you share with us a favorite moment in this filming this season?
Sara said “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 went on to tell us “Becky is a widow. And she is a waitress. And she really likes to drink.” as she is laughing. Sara chimes in with “Because she’s a widow.”. Lecy told us “But I also think she’s very strong. 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 to some of us. But that’s where Becky’s at.” she finishes, still laughing.
Sara told us “Darlene is basically a single parent. David has been in and out slightly, you know, 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 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 adds “I think one thing that Sara’s done really well is embody 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 being a widow,
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. My character came outta the military and is kind of struggling to re-establish himself, kind of 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.” I really love how he talks about this and helps us understand that it is JUST like real life, the decisions, the struggles and everything they go through is something that we can all in some way relate to.
Michael goes on to say “I think that’s the reaction when we all came in. No, I mean it. 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. We — there’s more to say, I think. I think Sara felt like that. I think 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 and — it’s just so much fun. It’s fun to come to work every day.”
Sara added “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 and it’s like, wow, this is heavy, but we handle everything with humor. 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.”
Are there going to be any guest stars? And is Sarah Chalke involved?
Sara told us “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 James Pickens is back and Adilah Barnes. You know, there’s 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 difficult to service everybody who’s here. I wish there was room for more. Natalie West came back as Crystal. Estelle Parsons.”
Michael added “I think we’ve done a great job of bringing as many people as you could jam into this short window. There’s so many 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. 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? Anything we can look forward to seeing?
Lecy answers with a resounding “Oh, yeah”. Sara adds, “You can look for the chicken shirt.” as she laughs. Michael told us “It’s right out the gate. In the first episode. You won’t miss the chicken shirt. So, if you’re a fan of that.” Lecy told us: “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 buy a chicken shirt online. So, if you want a chicken shirt you can get one. All of you guys can get one.” she was laughing through her whole comment. They got a chicken shirt online and had to realign it so that it looks like the original.
Sara told us, as she was laughing “Johnny and I had these like combat boots we used to wear and we wore ‘em on the show. 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.”
Lecy continues telling us about another iconic part of the show we can look forward to seeing again – Mr. Laughy. “There’s like this iconic photo that used to be on the set of Michael as a little boy and he had a bowtie. And we used to call him Mr. Laughy. That image was Mr. Laughy ’cause he looked like a vaudevillian old-time kind of comic or something, or almost like a ventriloquist doll. There was a t-shirt made of it. And Lori is wearing the t-shirt of Mr. Laughy on the show and Lori’s like ‘I wanna wear it again. I wanna wear it every week.'” Sara added, “But there was one scene where it was just her [Lori] and Roseanne talking on the porch, and we’re like, oh, no, not for this scene, ’cause it looked like three people…” Michael finishes by telling us “It was a serious scene, so they have a lot to talk about. And then there’s just –. It made me uncomfortable, and it’s my face. So…”
|Michael Fishman (ABC/Robert Trachtenberg)||Lecy Goranson (ABC/Robert Trachtenberg)||Sara Gilbert (ABC/Robert Trachtenberg)|
Michael, now having kids, how did your kids react to the show? Have they watched the old shows?
Michael told us “Yeah, they’ve watched the old shows. They were never obsessed with the show. They always watched it in passing. 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…” Lecy cuts him off and says “It’s been a while“. Michael retorts “So, I got married — I know. Mathematically that’s just barely possible.” laughing. Then he tells us that he helped raise his younger brother who is nine years younger than he is.
Michael continues with “I brought my kids week one. And 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’ which for him is like a huge compliment. And then he said, ‘hey, this is good’. The thing that really struck me was my 15-year-old daughter turned to me and said ‘I don’t watch a lotta TV, but I watch this’. And she said to me, ‘wow, everybody’s so good. 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. She turns to me and she goes ‘I might like to do this one day. 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 and I think it shines through the television. I think 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 told us “It makes me laugh, ’cause I’m thinking of Sara and my tutor is who is back. And she came on set and she saw us together. 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. it’s so moving to be back here’. And I said, ‘no, Sara, she’s crying because she sees us’“. Sara added “And the torture we put her through.” as they both laughed. Lecy finishes with “And we used to cause so much trouble. 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.'”
The interview was so great. We laughed, we cried, we went down memory lane and looked forward to the future. Michael, Sara, and Lecy are a lot of fun to talk with and I am excited to see the new episodes that start tonight (3/27/18). Here are some more pictures from our visit:
As you can see in the picture above she is standing on her tip toes – when I realized this long after we were gone from the set – I couldn’t stop laughing. I told her how awesome she is, and during the conversation, I mentioned that my 13-year-old was taller than her – and she said “my 13-year-old is taller than me” and we both laughed.
Don’t forget to tune into ABC Television Network tonight – Tuesday, March 27, at 8 p.m. EDT to see the first of the nine new episodes!