Punky Brewster star Freddie Prinze Jr. reveals his character's rocky relationship with Punky's dad, Henry
The longtime actor also confirms his character Travis Luna is Puerto Rican, just like him.
In its 10-episode return of Punky Brewster, currently available to stream in its entirety, fans reconnect with the formerly pigtailed Punky who is all grown up and a mother of three. Her ex-husband Travis Luna (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is still very much in the picture, as Punky's friend and fun-loving co-parent. As the revival unravels, viewers learn that Travis met Henry before his death and they didn't exactly kick it off.
"Henry did not trust Travis one bit, and it turns out he was right," Prinze Jr. tells EW exclusively during a recent interview. "Everything he warned Punky about, like, 'Oh, he's a musician; you gotta watch out with drugs and alcohol,' and all this kind of stuff. He was right. Travis fell down the road that the parent said is gonna happen. So kids, listen to your parents! We know what we're talking about. But I would say their relationship was not the best because what Henry was concerned about, Travis became."
Prinze Jr. is himself a dad to two children, daughter Charlotte, 11, and son Rocky, 8, with his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar. He puts himself into Henry's shoes as he looks ahead to the future when his daughter begins dating.
"My daughter is 11 years old. When my daughter is old enough to date — which isn't going to be anytime soon — the first guy that comes over is not someone that I'm going to be kind to," shares Prinze Jr. "It's someone that I'm going to make earn it. And we should do that as people in general, make people earn your respect on a case-by-case basis. Not just give them respect because others do. But he's going to have to earn it."
The longtime actor also happily revealed something he and his character have in common: both are proud Puerto Ricans.
"Travis is Latino, he last name is Luna," he shares. "That was something that was very important to the writers and creators of the show. They spoke to me about that at length, more than I even thought they would. They discussed with me what Travis' last name should be. They asked me what I wanted his background to be. Like, did I want him to be Mexican or Puerto Rican? They put a lot of thought and effort into thinking about this, much more than you're used to seeing."
He adds with a laugh when asked directly if Travis is Puerto Rican, "Well, yeah! He's definitely Puerto Rican. They gave my dad a hard time for playing Mexican while being Puerto Rican. They almost killed him! I'm going to stick to playing Puerto Rican."
Prinze Jr., who also flexes his Spanish language skills on Punky Brewster, is the only child of actor and comedian Freddie Prinze, star of NBC's Chico and the Man from 1974 until his death in 1977. In the series, set in the predominately Mexican-American East Los Angles, Prinze played Chico Rodriguez, a Chicano.
Although Travis and Punky are very much split up, there's a possibility the duo may find themselves in each other's arms again. The series plays the "will they won't they" of it all, which both Prinze Jr. and Frye are really enjoying. As to where that's headed, "fans will just have to keep watching," says Prinze Jr.
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