Roseanne cast shares 3 wild stories from making of the original series
During its original nine-season run on ABC, Roseanne was known almost as much for the star’s on-set antics as the show’s on-screen laughs. But the cast also had plenty of fun during production, and the cast — reunited to promote ABC’s revival, which premieres tonight — reminisced about some of the crazier times during a panel discussion at the Paley Center for Media in New York City.
Sara Gilbert, who was 12 when the Roseanne pilot was filmed, recalled not feeling the love for Sal Barone, the original actor who played Darlene’s brother, DJ. “We had a different DJ in the pilot, and the first DJ and I did not get along very well. There was fighting, and it was kind of a problem.” Then Barr jumped in to elaborate. “I’ll tell this part: Sara was beating the hell out of him, and [someone] called the [child] welfare and they came in to protect him. So we were like, ‘Well we just got to let him go.'” The experience led Gilbert to be a little more welcoming to the new DJ, played by Michael Fishman. “When they hired Michael,” she said, “I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, I better get along with this kid otherwise they’re going to get rid of me.'”
Though Barr said she usually had no trouble keeping a straight face around her costars, the actress recounted two times she did break character — and laughed so hard she wet her pants. The first was during the season 3 episode “Valentine’s Day,” when Darlene, whose crush is over for a visit, desperately tries to get her mom to leave the room. Watch:
Barr said the combination of Gilbert’s hilarious head toss and her own line, “What’s that, Lassie? You say Timmy fell down a mine shaft?” was simply too much for her to handle. “I peed my pants on the Lassie one,” she admitted. Barr’s second moment of comedic incontinence came during another scene with Gilbert, in which Roseanne and Darlene were racing to answer the kitchen phone. “I turned the corner and I’m fighting to get the phone first… and we crashed into each other,” said Gilbert. “She fell on the floor and then we started laughing, and I think you might even have peed your pants.” Indeed, Barr said she did experience a bladder failure after the kitchen collision — one that resulted in a brief production halt. “The wardrobe woman comes out and she goes, ‘We don’t have a second pair of pants.’ So they had to go out and rinse the pants and dry ’em with a hairdryer, and we just had to wait for like an hour.”
Michael Fishman, who was 7 years old when Roseanne began, was not a fan of DJ Conner’s signature bowl cut — and he told the audience about the day Barr decided to do something about it. “I had that bowl haircut for a really long time. Roseanne wouldn’t let me cut my hair, and then one day I walk in and she goes, ‘What is wrong with your hair?’ I’m like, ‘You won’t let me cut it!’ She goes, ‘Oh, here’ and just buzzed my head. Then she goes, ‘You kind of look like George Clooney now.’ I was so happy.” And that wasn’t the only time Barr provided an on-set makeover. Lecy Goranson, the show’s original Becky, shared this memory: “I wanted to get a short haircut, and I’m brooding in hair and makeup, ‘The producers won’t let me [cut my hair].’ And Roseanne goes, ‘Okay!’ and grabs my ponytail, grabs the scissors, and cuts off my ponytail! I turn around and she has a sharp object and my hair. Twenty years of analysis later, I can tell you that I was kind of glad that she did it.”
Roseanne returns to the air tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.