ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese talks to That ’90s Show Debra Jo Rupp stars in the upcoming Netflix series, which begins streaming on January 19, 2023. The actress talks about returning to the role of Kitty Forman and working with a new generation of children.
“Hello, Wisconsin! It’s 1995 and Leia Forman, daughter of Eric and Donna, visits her grandparents for the summer where she joins a new generation of children at Point Place under the watchful eye of Kitty and Red’s fierce glare,” reads the official synopsis. “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll don’t die, they just change clothes.”
Tyler Treese: This show is a blast and it’s great in so many different ways. I wonder if there was any hesitation in reprimanding Kitty or once you knew it was done the right way you got on board?
Debra Jo Rupp: It’s not so much Kitty as the show, you know? Because I thought it couldn’t be done… we did That ’90s Show, and so basically we just change the children. That’s not good enough for me. That does nothing for me. It is important for me that life goes on. So if you take it after 17 years, then 17 years have passed in the life of this family, and you have to see that so there’s no separation, you know?
That’s what they do, basically, bring the granddaughter for the summer. Then the people who live in Point Place — like Tommy Chong, like many other people — it’s important that they are there and be part of Point Place so that life doesn’t change. There were some new people introduced, and I think that was really done. It really came true.
It will be fun to see you with Kurtwood Smith again. Since 17 years ago, how does this new dynamic with Red and Kitty show? You show that they still have the spark, but age happens and things change.
It’s true! And they are quite slow, yes. I find that their patience is low. We don’t want to create a duplicate. We want to … I mean, I’m old too, 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 say that now. I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. So it is today. What it is now is what will be. One of the episodes I got a computer and, oh, you’re going to die from it, you’re just going to die. You’re still very young, but those first computers were a thing, a real thing.
Yes, that was a fun episode. Leia’s young actress, Callie [Haverda] very talented. How it finds that connection with him and what makes it unique compared to Topher [Grace]Eric?
Well, they are exactly the same. They’re both — oh, he’s just going to kill me, but I mean this in the sweetest way — a little gawky, a little awkward. She is a beautiful woman. She is a beautiful woman and they both take their work very seriously. Maybe Topher is more serious. Callie is … she’s a great combo of Eric and Donna.
But there are similarities – the awkwardness and the honesty and the desire to please, and the making of silly mistakes. You know, they’re similar to that. So it wasn’t hard to make that connection with him. As far as actors go, that takes time, you know? and Show the ’70s, we produced 22 episodes. Netflix, we’ve done 10. So we’ve never had the same connection that we had ’70s — Well, eight years, that takes a little time.
One of the great things about this small scale is that it’s almost like one big story line from start to finish. And with all of that, you get a nice bond with the Ozzie character. What does the storyline do?
Oh, I love Ozzie. Well, he’s a bit of a character himself. And he was younger, so he could use a friend. That connection, they wrote that. It’s just beautiful. It’s just beautiful. They are all very good. And we have to rehearse masks because of Covid, so you’re acting with half a face. And they handled that like champs. Then once the mask comes off, then it’s really different, and they’re all very good. They are really good. Really good.
Cameos from past characters are spread out pretty big. I love your scenes with Wilmer [Valderrama]. How is it interacting with Fez again after all these years?
I’m so beautiful! It’s very nice. He is very funny. I appreciate that they’re really behind it, you know? They know their roots and they get on board right away. They are really supportive and nice to everyone. They can do social media, I can’t, but they do it. They took care of it in a very nice way. It’s very nice. Wilmer is … I think Wilmer is a very special person. He helped a lot of people.
How crazy is it to see only this nostalgia for the ’90s? Because to me, it seems like it’s only 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 very young in the ’90s. Were you born in the ’90s?
Yes, ’92. Yes.
It’s okay. So you don’t have to worry about computers or cell phones, you know? Until the 2000s, right?
Yes. The stylish scene transitions are back for this one, where you dance around. How was it filmed? It looks like you all had fun doing it.
It’s true. I would say that is true. You can do the craziest things, you know? And they were cheered on, so it was a blast. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun.