In case you haven't heard: "Full House" is back ... with a twist.
A spin-off of the popular ’90s ABC sitcom has made its way to Netflix.
Dubbed "Fuller House," the multi-camera comedy inverts the premise of the original. In the updated version, which rolled out early Friday, DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) is recently widowed and sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and bestie Kimmy (Andrea Barber) move in to help DJ raise her three sons.
But, of course, that's not the only reason fans squealed when news of the series broke last year.
Members of the original cast -- with the notable exception of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen -- returned for a nearly full-fledged reunion in the first episode. (They each appear sporadically after that.)
The original Jeff Franklin-created series, which ran from 1987 to 1995, may not have won over many critics at the time, but its initial popularity and subsequent syndication success earned it a special place in the hearts of young viewers who were comforted by the show's gentle humor and important life lessons.
Now, with all 13 episodes of "Fuller House" ready for bingeing, we caught up with stars John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Bob Saget, Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber and Lori Loughlin as they fondly remember the original series, discuss what to expect and embrace the fan pandemonium.
Our interviews: Bob Saget | Dave Coulier | John Stamos | Lori Loughlin | Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber
There were a lot of chills going on through the whole thing. I don't have that much hair on the back of my neck, but whatever hair I do have left stood up.
Danny Tanner is back!
He is. It is a crazy reunion. And I think the first episode reflects that reunion the best. People will like it, I think. I only did a couple of them. I wanted to do another, but I had to go to Broadway to do this play, “Hand to God.” The second [episode] that I did, I especially loved doing. … I’d be thrilled to go back and do more of them. It was a no-brainer. There were a lot of chills going on through the whole thing. I don't have that much hair on the back of my neck, but whatever hair I do have left stood up. I never thought there'd actually come a point where this would be a reality.
John Stamos was always firm on wanting to do it, and he was the champion for it, as was [creator] Jeff Franklin. [Executive producer] Bob Boyett wanted to do it also. I wanted to do it as like a PG movie and have it not be like a Brady movie, but to have it all be us. Everybody looks good and everybody has gone through their stuff -- I’m the one looking the worst. But I still look OK.
Netflix became kind of the coolest jewel in the crown that could possibly exist because they give freedom to the artist and it’s just this miracle place that WB was able to find a home. And Ted Sarandos, who runs Netflix, said: “Let’s do this.” They’ve never done a multi-camera family comedy with an audience. It’s very cool to be a little part of a resurgence of TV history. The funny part is they call us old-timers -- me, John, Dave [Coulier], Lori [Loughlin] -- the “legacy cast.” It sounds like we were inside an alien spaceship, like Sigourney Weaver, after a thousand years of space travel, the spaceship opened up and smoke came out and here we are. We are the legacy cast.
What was the first day back like?
It was very personal for me. I had gone for a wardrobe fitting -- and probably should have killed more outfits than I did. … I first went to the original stage, which I believe was Stage 24. The first half of the show we did at Sony, at Columbia’s studios that became Sony. So people don’t even remember. It was on Tuesday nights. There was no TGIF. It wasn’t doing very well. ABC ran it twice a week to try to help us. Then it caught on and then the Friday night lineup started. At that time, it was about the halfway point of the series. And then we moved to Warner Bros. So I walked through that old stage. It’s what Dave said in the second promo. “They say you can never come home again, but we got to.” Then I walked onto Stage 26, where we shot “Fuller House,” and I was alone. … I stood there and they rebuilt the freakin’ kitchen. They rebuilt the freakin’ living room. I’m like, wait a second, is that the right couch? And then they made sure they had the right couch. They saved the fabric from 25 years ago of the original couch. It’s a beautiful, wild thing to have walked onto the set. It’s literally like … I don’t know what’s it’s like because I was alone. It’s like going to Disneyland 25 years ago and [having] a great experience and then [going] back to it 25, 30 years later and no one is there but you. This fake house was a huge part of my life. There were times when I spent more time on set than I did at home.
Were you able to appreciate the show while it was on the air?
I don’t even remember the episodes, to be honest. It was week after week after week. I just know I would be like, “Oh no, I have to wear that this episode? Please don’t make me wear that.” They’d always put me in the goofiest outfit. They would do it to Dave, too, but for some reason Dave was always comfortable in it. You could do anything to Dave and he’d be like, “Sure, I don’t care.”
I was always amenable to honoring the legacy that is the show because the show really, except for 6 to 8 months, was never off television. Everybody of every generation has continued to watch it. There’s a sense of pride in it. My standup comedy -- on tour now -- there’s no way to avoid the fact that I did this and I’m proud of it. My complaining only came from being a 30-year-old guy who has Jewish neuroses that was doing two shows [“Full House” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos”] that were very popular and very G-rated. I’m glad there wasn’t Twitter back then because there would be many people to block.
How do you think the wholesome sensibility will go over with a generation of kids that is far more sophisticated and more easily exposed to grown-up material?
It’s fascinating because the show is a tiny bit edgier than it was. They’re probably a couple of times where you went, “Whoa, what did they just say?” It’s 2016, you have to cop to it a little bit. Nobody is talking in old terms. We’re trying to be as real as we can with whatever dialogue there was. And I think people don’t have anything that they can sit down and watch with their kids except for maybe a CGI movie or maybe if there’s been a good commercial movie that is accessible to a lot of ages. There just aren’t a lot of things that you can sit down and watch as a family. I think it’s nice to share experiences with your family, especially with how spread apart families are now. If you consider how in 25 years we’ve de-escalated on shared family experiences. It’s almost like the ’50s was when I was young. “Happy Days” was the show you sat down with your family to watch. This kind of, in its own way, had the same formula as “Happy Days.” It’s ironic how history plays itself out. We’re a show where Candace [Cameron Bure] is instilling the same values that Danny instilled in his kids. And that’s what I think is the backbone of why these shows have substance.
Did you feel a sense of closure? The ending of the original came abruptly for you guys.
Yeah, there was an offer to go to the WB, but it wasn’t a firm offer. It just felt like they canceled it, and had they not canceled it, maybe we would have been back another year. But contracts were up. It’s all that business stuff. If it had been affordable and had deemed itself worthy, I think we would have done it. The ratings of it are so much higher by today’s standards because the whole pie has been split so much by fragmentation. We had a final episode, but it didn’t really fully have closure. But that’s TV.
Who knows, in 30 years we’ll talk again when I come back as Danny Tanner as a 90-year-old. I’ll be like Captain Pike in “Star Trek.” I don’t know what it will be. It will be the three of us sitting there. It will never end. It’ll be the three boys on the show now coming back as older men. It’ll be the “Fullest House.” People from other planets will enjoy this show.
Tell me something about the show that we would never know.
I never liked Mr. Woodchuck. I was always against it because I was like, “Why am I watching this?” But he’s back. He’s there for a minute. From the original series, when it went off the air, I kept things like my name plate from the table read. I kept some scripts. I kept the “Full House” dolls that came out that made negative money. I have something from the new one but I can’t say anything because: spoiler alert.
"Fuller" facts: In addition to TV roles on such shows as "Full House" and "How I Met Your Mother," Saget is also a director. In 1998, Saget made the cult comedy "Dirty Work," starring Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange. In 2007, Saget directed and starred in a direct-to-DVD parody of the hit documentary "March of the Penguins" called "Farce of the Penguins."
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I really have never watched the show, to be quite honest with you. I know someday I'll have my own little marathon.
Was it easy to get back into the head space of Joey Gladstone after all these years?
One of the easiest things I’ve ever done. It was if no time had passed. We got there for the first table read at Warner Bros. and it was remarkable how quickly we all clicked right back into all the stupid jokes and same bits that made each other laugh. The timing was there. The characters' relatability factor with each other was there. It wasn’t as if we came in with the intent of "Let’s reinvent this show." It was "Let’s do Full House 2.0, an updated operating system of one people are already familiar with."
Nostalgia is obviously big right now. And we’ve seen the hysteria that comes when “Full House” is mentioned, like when word broke that Lifetime was doing an unauthorized telepic. That was a movie that the cast took issue with. So was it nice to be able to give fans something with your stamp of approval?
That Lifetime movie was so bad that I couldn’t stop watching it. I couldn’t stop laughing .... It looked like a sketch. It looked like one big, really bad sketch. It looked like a beginning improv group doing their spoof on “Full House.” [“Fuller House”] is satisfying. This is the real deal. You’re not seeing a parody, you’re seeing us update everything to where are characters are now.
Do you remember what that initial fame felt like?
It was a roller coaster rise. It was pretty incredible to experience that. To go from obscurity to all of a sudden being on this gigantic hit. The first season I could walk down the street; no one knew who I was. And then when we moved to Tuesday nights, and had summer reruns, and got huge sampling. We carried that over to Friday nights as TGIF was born. That really started it all. It was phenomenal that Friday night television was pulling in 30 shares. Its still unheard of. So we got to pretty much anchor that TGIF roller coaster.
People have always sort of dismissed the show for being wholesome and cheesy — yet, there is undying love for it from viewers who watched the original or a new generation of fans introduced to it through syndication. Why do you think it has endured?
It becomes video comfort food for some people. I really have never watched the show, to be quite honest with you. I know someday I’ll have my own little marathon. They don’t really make shows like "Full House” anymore. Those sensibilities have gotten gobbled up by acerbic wit and cynical attitudes. We’re taking people back to much simpler time when people looked at each other and said "I love you" and hugged each other.
"Fuller" facts: Coulier's animated voiceover resume includes four seasons of "The Real Ghostbusters" as the voice of Peter Venkman, the character played by Bill Murray in the 1984 film.
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Over the years, I've gotten to do so much diverse work...that I felt like, OK... I'm not just Uncle Jesse. It made it OK to embrace it.
You played a big part in helping this come together. What were the conversations like between you and creator Jeff Franklin that spurred this into action?
Six or seven years ago, Jeff and I started talking about it and there was a time when even back then people were saying “Reunion! Reunion!” Jeff and I thought, well, let’s do a reunion and a spin-off so the show could keep going. We never felt like -- there was never closure to this show because they literally told us we were canceled the week we were shooting the last show. So there was no big finale, you know what I mean. That was part of it. We tried to sell it. In fact, we did sell it to a few places back then. But the business model didn’t make sense. And so we came around to do it again now. As it’s turned out, with more time, people are just so anxious to see this thing. I had a hard time wrapping my head around -- I mean, I knew what people liked about the show. Again, the longer it goes, the more I realize what the fascination of the show was/is. What made everybody’s hearts so warm by watching it. And I think, too, every year that goes by, single-parent families have become more and more prevalent in our times every single year. We were one of the first shows to do that, 25, 30 years ago. As time goes by, it’s more and more relatable. It was just time.
I think it came as a bit of surprise to see how central your role in it was, considering you had been trying to move away from your Uncle Jesse image for years, acting-wise.
Yeah, I had a hard time shaking the “Full House” thing for some time. I was actively trying to shake it. I was doing whatever I could. I wasn’t talking about it. But it’s like not talking about one of your children or something. It was something that was very special to me. Over the years, I’ve gotten to do so much diverse work, especially my time in the theater that I felt like, OK, I can hold my own playing other characters and I’m not just Uncle Jesse. Then I had a big run on “ER” and I felt like, OK, I’m an actor. It made it OK to embrace it. And it felt great to do that. And I knew if something like this was going to come about -- because there was always stuff percolating, movie ideas and that kind of stuff -- I was like, I want to be in on this because I want to protect the legacy. I want to protect my castmates. I want to make sure it’s done right. That’s why I stuck with it. And I know it’s just so important to people. I think the advent of social media, too, it’s really specific. You see exactly what they like about it. You see exactly what line, you see memes or GIFs or whatever of things that were important to people. It’s just weird. And then, now is the time. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia. I love it. I love seeing other nostalgic things. And it seems other people want to see us do it, judging from the response.
I can’t even describe what’s happening. I can’t even grasp it. I’ve had hundreds of parents say, thank you for giving my kids something to watch. And when I was younger and doing the show, I’d be like, yeah, OK, that’s not my responsibility. But as I’m older and I have more sense of the weight of the world and what’s important and what’s not, it’s like, well, whether it’s my responsibility or not, I’m glad to be a part of that.
Was the idea always to have it be a passing of the torch -- to not make it be about having everyone back?
Well, I had my other show. That’s the other thing. I feel pretty creatively satisfied by “Grandfathered.” So I had no problem going back and playing Uncle Jesse because I still get to do my other thing. I don’t know if it would work with us being at the center of it. We sat down and tried to figure out what little things we could bring back or call out. I just hope it’s what people want. Going into it, too, there was talk of updating it and having the girls live out of an apartment. I was pretty adamant about keeping them in the house because it’s such a character of the show. For better or worse, it’s the same. It is what it used to be, I think.
Did you find that it was emotional to be back in it? I know you guys didn’t shoot at the same stage on the Warner Bros. lot, but you shot near the original.
I couldn’t believe it. I was just worried that we were going to disappoint people. That’s my main thing. I never really got emotional until I saw the first promos that Netflix put together. The one with the Miranda Lambert song. Seeing that stuff has really hit me that this is something special. I remember getting up early in the morning and they emailed me the promo and I just started crying. That was the first time it hit me. I’m proud of it. I just hope people like it. And I’m proud of the girls. The girls are great. I think they hold the show down.
But being back on set was pretty magical. It wasn’t hard getting back into the characters by any means. Being in that house and that stage and looking into Bob [Saget’s] eyes or Dave [Coulier’s] or Lori [Loughlin’s], you just click right back into it.
Was their one mandate you had in coming back?
The important thing for me was Jesse and Becky were still together. And that we made it. That we overcame the odds and are still madly in love with each other. I developed this with Jeff when he was writing it so nothing was really a surprise to me. It was always like, what makes sense of how we sort of have some big celebration in the house and how it would be handed over to the girls. How do we get that movement? Jeff and I put Jesse and Becky and all of us going to L.A., so we’re an hour flight. We can always come back. The important thing to me was that we showed America that we made it.
And you sing “Forever”!
I took it as sort of “Eh, this song again?” But, I tell ya, when the audience was in there and I sat down and looked into Lori’s eyes, it had a lot of emotion. It had a lot of weight. I’ve sang it a thousand times, but that time, in that episode, was different because it wasn’t like singing it to her 25 years ago. Not to sound corny, but the part where it’s like, “If every word I said, could make you laugh, I’d talk forever.” Well, Uncle Jesse has talked for 25 years now. He’s done all those things. I guess it worked, right? There you go.
"Fuller" facts: Starting in 1985, Stamos has occasionally played percussion for the Beach Boys, including an appearance in their 1988 video for "Kokomo." The group repaid the favor by appearing on an episode of "Full House."
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I think reunion shows can be tricky. If you don't capture the magic of what was in the past, it can really be a dud.
I’m assuming you’ve had nonstop reaction over how excited people are about “Fuller House”?
People are super excited. They really are. The fans are funny. Like on Twitter, everyone was making a big deal about how it was Jesse and Becky’s 25th wedding anniversary. It was funny because I saw it, and was like, “Well, that’s funny. I didn’t realize we were married for 25 years.” I got a text right after that that said, “Hey, happy anniversary. According to the kids on Twitter, we’ve been married 25 years.” It’s so funny how they know. They really know.
I remember a couple of years ago, when I first started on Instagram, I posted a picture of me and one of the Olsen twins. It was a “throwback Thursday” to when we shot at Disneyland. But I had made a mistake! It was really the Hawaii episode. And, oh, my gosh, the comments were flying in. I was like, “Oh, dear, I stand corrected. You guys are right.” There are people that will say lines to me from episodes, and I’ll look at them confused because I don’t even remember those lines. It’s pretty cool.
The show has virtually stayed on the air nonstop in syndication since the show ended its run.
Yeah, and what it does for the show, and what it certainly does for Netflix, is it has a fan base from generation to generation. You have kids that are watching “Full House” now that weren’t even born when we were on in prime time. Since it’s been in syndication, it has amassed a much larger fan base than had it just been taken completely off the air.
Was there any hesitation to come back?
Well, it’s really a spinoff show. So when they were first pitching it, it was clear that it was Candace, Jodie and Andrea. And then John is one of the producers, so he was at the helm of it, along with Bob Boyett and Jeff Franklin. John called me. I knew they were taking meetings for quite some time before they finally landed at Netflix. I think it all fell into place the way it should have.
I think reunion shows can be tricky. If you don’t capture the magic of what was in the past, it can really be a dud. I think it’s really cool that it landed at Netflix, the hot spot to be. And I think because Jeff Franklin, being the original creator and now creating the spinoff, you definitely have the magic of what “Full House” was — it really came together very well.
And not necessarily doing a reunion show, but doing a spinoff show gave it another dimension that just made more sense. My only reservation was everybody’s — was just to make sure that if we came back, we did it in a way that was still “Full House” and still appealing to the fans. The worst thing you could do is walk away and go, “Oh, that wasn’t what it was.”
I don’t think people will walk away like that. I think people are going to go, “Wow, I’ve been waiting for this. This is exactly what I dreamed it would be.”
In the first episode, we see that “Wake Up, San Francisco” has gone national. Was that a relief to see that Becky is moving on up in her career?
Oh, yeah. It’s nice to see that we’ve advanced in our careers. I like to think their show has grown with the times and have clips going viral the next day.
"Fuller" facts: Loughlin is married to fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, founder of the Mossimo clothing line.
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This must be so surreal.
JS: I think we’re as excited as some of the fans are. It’s been so hard to keep it contained for such a long time.
Nostalgia is obviously a big thing right now. And when news broke that this was happening, people went crazy. How did you each get wind of how people were reacting to the news?
JS: When you open up Yahoo or anything and it’s the first thing you see. There was so much media attention and fan attention. It was really exciting for us because we’ve all have had the experience, for the past 20 years, of fans going, “Oh, my gosh, will you guys ever come back?” We kind of knew there was excitement out there. But I think the anticipation for this show has kind of blown all our minds.
AB: We got a heads-up the day before it was going to be announced — “Hey, it’s going to be announced tomorrow.” But then all of a sudden it was like 5 a.m. and my phone was like buzz, buzz, buzz. So my East Coast friends were texting .... It was a little overwhelming to have that scroll on my phone when I woke up. The response was awesome.
There had been talk before about bringing it back. So were you skeptical it would actually stick this time?
CB: It actually goes back more years than people realize. I originally got a call when I was doing an ABC Family show called “Make It or Break It.” It took so many puzzle pieces to fit this together. But at the time, the first time I heard, I was like, “Well, I’m actually on a show. I’m contracted. I can’t leave it to do another one.” It wasn’t even until several years after that that it was like, “We’re going in again to see if we can work this out.” Because there were a lot of network issues.
JS: We heard rumors over the years or fans or different people approaching [executive producers] Jeff Franklin and Bob Boyett and Warner Bros. about maybe doing a “Full House” movie. All of us were like, “No, we would rather leave it untouched than do a cheesy one-hour movie and kind of damage the legacy of what “Full House” was. And, so, when we heard this idea of it being about these three women, and that it would be a spinoff, we were really excited for that …. If anyone could make it hip, modern, and fun it would be Netflix.
And there was no hesitation about coming back?
CB: No, we all have such great memories, great experiences from the show. We’ve all embraced “Full House.” It really made us who we are, in terms of our careers. But it was a wonderful growing up experiences. And knowing that Jeff Franklin and Bob Boyett were going to run the show again, we knew we were in good hands. For me, there was no hesitation at all.
JS: And I think hearing the ideas and what they had planned for our characters and where we were in our lives, it didn’t feel stale. It’s been 20 years, and they’ve really done a great job of allowing our characters to grow up and change and blossom a little bit. Hearing about who Stephanie had become, it was like, “Ooh, yay!”
Let’s talk more about where we pick up with the characters. Did you ever think about those lost years that we don’t see?
CB: There’s always a part of that as an actress, but the weird thing is, at least for me, having grown up in this character, there wasn’t a lot of backstory I needed to make up. I understand she got married and lost her husband. But there was a sense of I already know this woman. She is a part of me. If anything, it was more about getting to know the new kids on the show and developing that relationship as quickly as possible to have a familiarity with them. It was fun to sit down with Jeff and hear his ideas of where DJ was in her life.
JS: For me, Stephanie, I’ve given her an interesting backstory of what she’s been up to and why she made some of the choices to like travel the world and galavant and [has] not been as present and involved. I have my own little story in my mind. But, yeah, it’s been really fun to bring her back. And I think people will see that old Stephanie spunk, wit and sarcasm definitely still present.
AB: Oh, I love modern-day Kimmy Gibler and I was thrilled that she’s just as eccentric and kooky as she was before. But she’s grown up. She’s matured. She’s a mom now. A single mom. And she’s really loyal to her daughter and wants to be a good mom. The only thing that surprised me is that she was married to such a hot guy. I don’t think anyone was expecting that curve ball!
CB: We all sat at the table reading and we were like [gasps]. “Who’s the hot guy?” We were all so jealous.
AB: Writers, thank you.
Did it feel weird to be the adults now?
CB: It didn’t for me. It just felt like putting on my slippers. I just slipped back into them and walked on the set.
JS: It was fun for me to get to come back as an adult. I was a little bit younger — I was about 12 or 13 when the show ended. So I was still kind of a kid that was invited to go out to dinner with the adults at the end of the series. To come back as an adult and be on the other side of that, and have more input on the character, and more involvement, it does feel different. And I think we have a lot of compassion, too, for the kids. I’m like, “Dudes, I get it. We’ve been there, we’ve done it, but this is what you’ve got to do.”
How do you feel about it landing on Netflix, versus maybe your original broadcast home (ABC)?
CB: As opposed to just going to network television, or going to like an ABC Family (now known as Freeform), Netflix is a pioneer in what they’re doing with streaming shows. To come in and spearhead family programming for them was just major. They have massive international reach. The way way you can watch programming [with Netflix] is however you choose. It really was just this perfect partnership.
I had no idea the show had been licensed to more than 170 countries through its run.
CB: Yeah, it feels good. We all have, through social media, so many international fans that are contacting us. So the fact that we can all watch it together, they don’t have to wait a year or two. They’ve already translated this first season into 12 or 13 different languages. It’s running in every single country that Netflix is in, which is a lot. It’s amazing for us to be able to reach the fans immediately.
"Fuller" facts: Cameron Bure has the distinction of being the first person to host the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards twice. She's also written three self-help books.
Sweetin made her acting debut in in 1987 on the NBC sitcom "Valerie," starring Valerie Harper and Jason Bateman. After Harper exited, the show was renamed "The Hogan Family."
From 1982 to 1986, Barber played Carrie Brady on "Days of Our Lives."
MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY OLSEN
The Olsen twins declined to take part in "Fuller House." How rude.
Did you know? The pair became multi-millionaires at a young age and have since built careers in fashion. Their younger sister, Elizabeth Olsen, plays Scarlet Witch in Marvel Studios' "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" and the forthcoming "Captain America: Civil War."
Additional reporting by Dave Lewis
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