Appearing on Full House for seven years, most of us know Lori Loughlin as Rebecca Donaldson — (Uncle) Jesse’s girl and Danny Tanner’s cohost on "Wake Up San Francisco" — but The CW is hoping the next generation of couch potatoes will recognize her as the new Cindy Walsh. Playing Debbie Wilson, the wife of West Beverly High’s principal and the mother of their two high school-age kids on the 90210 spin off, Lori and I talked — among other things — about her familiarity with the 90s version of the show, her opportunity to work with some of the veteran cast members and which TV couple’s relationship most resembles that of hers and on-screen husband, Rob Estes. See for yourself…
I hear you didn’t watch much of the original 90210 when it was on?
Yeah. I think I missed that
window. Maybe [I was] a little bit too old.
But I still knew who all the actors were,
I knew their character names, I knew the premise of the show and a little bit about their story lines. That just goes to show you how popular and how talked about [the original 90210] really was.
Do you have friends or family that did watch 90210 in the 90s? What was their reaction to your role on the spin off?
Oh, very excited. Very
excited across the board. In fact, I was a bit surprised by their reaction. After I signed
on and [the news of my casting] hit the trades, I was really inundated with
phone calls and people were so excited. I was not expecting that.
On the original show, the parents played an important part in the early years, but we didn’t really delve too deeply
into their lives. I’m hearing that’s not the case this time around.
Yeah. I think that the
intention is to show both the teenage world and the parental world, and not have the parents’ story lines just be about parenting the
kids. There will be story lines about their marriage, about their careers and about balancing all of it. So I think it will be multifaceted, which is certainly more interesting for Rob Estes and I to play.
They do have
a strong relationship, though, just like Jim and Cindy Walsh did, right?
Yes. They have a good marriage.
They have a strong foundation. You know, I think it’s similar to the
relationship that Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan (Sandy and Kirsten Cohen) had on The O.C. I’m sure there will be
challenges in the relationship and bumps in the road and whatnot, but
I think the general message that [show runners] Gabe [Sachs] and Jeff [Judah] want to get out there
is that these are two people who are committed to each other and committed
to working on their marriage.
So there’s definitely going to be some drama.
I think, on the whole, there will
be drama. I think that’s what is going to keep the viewers tuning in. But I don’t know exactly what that drama will be just yet.
Oh, you do?
Let’s just say that your husband (Rob Estes’ character) has a history with one of his student’s parents — which is not surprising, seeing as he did grow up in Beverly Hills — Might there be a bit of jealousy?
I think so, yes, when he comes in contact with his ex-girlfriend from high
school. And, down the road, there will be more moments of jealousy.
And then there’s the drama the kids will inevitably bring. Your character’s son and daughter are supposed to be well-adjusted and respectful, but the Beverly Hills environment may bring their bad sides out every now and then, yes?
I’m sure. I mean, again,
you have to have some friction and conflict for it to be an interesting show
to watch. I think that we will definitely explore the teenagers
wanting to spread their wings and not always do what the parents
are expecting them to do. And, of course, kids stumble and fall and make mistakes, so
I think we’ll explore how the parents
react and handle situations.
How much will you get
to work with Jessica Walter?
I work with Jessica a lot
actually. Most of my work in the pilot is with Rob and Jessica.
Yeah, your family moves into her mansion. Now, is that where they’re going to stay long term, or is that a temporary situation?
I think, right now, it’s where we’re staying. I have
not been told anything other than the fact that we’ll all be living
in her house, which keeps Jessica’s
character in the loop, you know?
character have any interaction with the 90210 alums — Jennie Garth, Shannen Doherty, Joe E. Tata — that are recurring?
Probably. It has to be organic, but if it all works, I think you’ll see the two worlds
collide at times.
What was your reaction when
you heard that they’d be on the show?
I think that the name "90210" is a great franchise. So
I think [developing this spin off] is a really good marketing strategy on the CW’s part because
you will attract the original viewer of 90210, who will be curious to see
what this new show is going to be like. And you’ll also get the younger
viewer who watches Gossip Girl, who might not know 90210, but because it’s about teenagers, they’ll feel they can relate to it and will want to watch. If they can get the old cast members to come in and do cameos or four or six episode arcs here and there, they should do it as much as they can. I think that will keep the older
90210 viewer that watched the original show happy. I think it’ll play really well. I think it’s important to
let the viewer know that it’s basically a new show, but the original
90210 fan will get a taste of what they loved 20 years ago. It’s a good balance.