ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to That ’90s Show star Debra Jo Rupp about Netflix’s sequel series, which begins streaming on January 19, 2023. The actress discussed returning to the role of Kitty Forman and working with a new generation of kids.
“Hello, Wisconsin! It’s 1995 and Leia Forman, daughter of Eric and Donna, is visiting her grandparents for the summer where she bonds with a new generation of Point Place kids under the watchful eye of Kitty and the stern glare of Red,” reads the official synopsis. “Sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll never dies, it just changes clothes.”
Tyler Treese: This show is such a blast and it was great in so many different ways. I was curious if there was ever any hesitation in reprising Kitty or once you knew that this was being done the right way you were on board?
Debra Jo Rupp: It wasn’t so much Kitty as it was the show, you know? Because I thought it can’t be … we’re doing That ’90s Show, and so basically we’re just going to replace the kids. That’s not good enough for me. That doesn’t do anything for me. It was important to me that life moves on. So if you’re going to pick it up 17 years later, then 17 years have passed in this family’s life, and you need to see that so that there’s no disconnect, you know?
So that’s what they did, basically, bringing the granddaughter in for the summer. Then the people that live in Point Place — like Tommy Chong, like many other people — it was important they be there and be part of Point Place so that life doesn’t change. It’s just there are some new people introduced, and I think that was really accomplished. Really accomplished.
It’s fun seeing you with Kurtwood Smith again. Since it’s been 17 years, how was it showing that new dynamic with Red and Kitty? You show that they still have the spark, but age has occurred and things have changed.
It’s so true! And they’re a little slower, yeah. I find that their patience is a little thinner. We didn’t want to do a duplicate. We wanted to … I mean, I am also older, so I use that too. Sometimes I lose my words because — you know what? I’m full, Tyler. My brain is full. I’m not learning another electronic, I can tell you that right now. I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. So it is what it is now. What it is right now is what it’s going to be. One of the episodes I get a computer and, oh, you’re going to die from this, you’re just going to die. You’re too young, but those early computers were something, really something.
Yeah, that’s such a fun episode. Leia’s young actress, Callie [Haverda] is so talented. How is it finding that connection with her and what made it unique compared to Topher [Grace]’s Eric?
Well, they’re actually pretty similar. They’re both — oh, she’s just going to kill me, but I mean this in the sweetest way — a little gawky, a little awkward. She’s a beautiful girl. She’s a lovely girl and they’re both really serious about their work. Maybe Topher is a little more serious. Callie is actually … she’s a really good combo with Eric and Donna.
But there are similarities — the awkwardness and the earnestness and the wanting to please, and the making really stupid mistakes. You know, they have that in common. So it wasn’t hard to make that connection with her. As far as actors go, that takes time, you know? And so ’70s Show, we did 22 episodes. Netflix, we did 10. So we don’t have the same connection yet that we had in ’70s — well, eight years, that just takes a little time.
One of the nice things about this being a smaller scale is that it’s almost like one big storyline from start to finish. And throughout that, you get a really nice bond with the character Ozzie. How was it like doing that storyline?
Oh, I love Ozzie. Well, he’s just a little character himself. And he’s younger, so he could use a friend. That connection, they wrote that in. It’s just beautiful. It’s just beautiful. They’re all so good. And we had to rehearse in masks because of Covid, so you’re really acting with half a face. And they handled that like champs. Then once the mask comes off, then it’s a whole different something happening, and they all handled it really well. They’re really good. Really good.
The cameos from the past characters are all spread out and so great. I loved your scenes with Wilmer [Valderrama]. How was it interacting with Fez again after all these years?
I was fantastic! It was fantastic. He was so funny. I so appreciate that they’re really behind this, you know? They know their roots and they were just onboard immediately. They’ve been really supportive and great about everything. They can do the social media, I can’t do it, but they do it. They take care of it in a very nice way. It was really great. Wilmer is … I think Wilmer is a very special person. He helps a lot of people.
How crazy is it just seeing this nostalgia for the ’90s? Because for me, it seems like it was just here, and it’s been 20+ years.
I know. That’s because you’re young! I know the ’90s were a long time ago. You were too young in the ’90s. Were you born In the ’90s?
Yeah, ’92. Yeah.
Okay. So you would not be concerned about computers or cell phones yet, you know? Until the 2000s, right?
Yeah. The stylish scene transitions are still back for this, where you’re dancing around. How is it filming this? It just seems like you guys are all having a blast doing this.
It’s exactly true. I will say that that is exactly true. You get to do the stupidest things, you know? And they’re cheered, so it is a blast. It is so much fun. So much fun.