Jeff Franklin, creator of the iconic family sitcom, says finding the perfect cast members in the ’80s was a pretty seamless experience, which is unusual for the typical tedious casting process.
“It was a dream to cast,” Franklin says. “Pilots are really, really tough. Everybody’s casting at the same time so you have 100 shows all fighting for the same talent pool. Most pilots fail because the cast isn’t right — not necessarily that the writing is bad because you have so many scripts that are written and the ones they pick are usually the cream of the crop, for the most part.”
“Fuller House,” which premieres on Netflix today, will feature the entire “Full House” cast — besides the Olsen twins. But, Franklin says the famous sisters were never really part of the plan.
“At the point I started developing this, the Olsens had actually stopped acting and were very busy with the fashion empire they were building. I knew that they were not going to be regulars on the show,” he says. “I was hoping they would stop in now and then, but it was always intended to be DJ (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and Kimmy (Andrea Barber).”
(For what it’s worth, Franklin says he has not had discussions with Mary-Kate and Ashley about returning for a potential second season. “The show hasn’t aired. We don’t have a pick-up so no I’m resting my brain for awhile. I’m trying not to think about it,” he says.)
Before his Netflix debut, Franklin shares original “Full House” audition memories with Variety:
Olsen Twins (a.k.a. Michelle Tanner): “In the beginning, we didn’t know how that was going to work. We called them every week and asked if they’d come in — there was no series deal in place. The more we worked with them, the more we realized that they were amazing. They had so much emotion and they were adorable and they had these giant big blue eyes. Every week, they were giving us something that we might have hoped for, but we never really expected, and then all kinds of fun surprises on top of it. I really wasn’t sure in the beginning how much this baby was going to be part of every episode, but as things went along, it became obvious that this was something really unique and special about our show and we wrote the Olsen twins into every episode and made a series deal as soon as the first season was over.”
Bob Saget (a.k.a. Danny Tanner): “Bob Saget was on a list that had two names on it — Paul Reiser and Bob Saget. I wanted one of those two guys to play Danny Tanner. Paul Reiser picked the other show about a bunch of single dads called ‘My Two Dads,’ and Bob was doing ‘The Morning Program.’ We shot the pilot with an unknown actor at the time and we never really, in my view, nailed the part. It was just a very lucky accident that right as the show got ordered, Bob Saget’s contract ended at the morning show at CBS. Then it became my personal mission to convince Lorimar and ABC that we needed to recast this role when there was no appetite to do so whatsoever and it cost a whole lot of money to go re-shoot the whole pilot. Everybody was kind of fighting me a little bit, but I wouldn’t give up. That was my crusade to get Bob Saget in the role. This show is so much apart of my heart and soul and brain, I really think I know what’s best for it.”
John Stamos (a.k.a. Uncle Jesse): “John didn’t audition. I set up a lunch with John. He was the only name on my list for Uncle Adam, who became Uncle Jesse. So we went out to lunch and we talked about music — we both loved Elvis, we both loved the Beach Boys. We talked about girls — we made sure we weren’t dating the same girl. We just had fun the whole lunch. At the end when the check came, I said, ‘We didn’t really talk about the show, do you want to do it?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m in.’ That was it. It was that simple. It was the easiest casting process that I’ve ever been through.
Dave Coulier (a.k.a. Uncle Joey): “I had written this very odd character of this stand-up comic who was doing weird impressions and he was just such a man-child. Nobody was nailing part this part. Dave Coulier came in and was that guy. Rarely does an actor fit a role so perfectly. We all looked at each other in the room and went, ‘Ok, we’re done with that one.’ It’s that moment you dream of. Casting is not fun so to have him come in and just nail that role was a huge relief.”
Candace Cameron Bure (a.k.a. DJ Tanner): “Candace came in a read, and we were very early in the audition process. She was just so natural. There was nothing forced or artificial about her. She was just completely a real kid, really cute and funny. She was kind of like an everyday kid that I thought young kids watching the show would really relate to. It didn’t hurt that her last name was Cameron and she was Kirk Cameron’s little sister — that was kind of a bonus, it wouldn’t have mattered at all. Again, she just nailed the part.”
Jodie Sweetin (a.k.a. Stephanie Tanner): “Jodie had done an episode of Valerie’ when she was four. Miller-Boyett had produced that show so they were aware of her, they brought her into the process and I looked at the footage and went, ‘Okay, I’m going to write for this girl.’ Again, there was no audition there. She was just cast based on her work in that other series.”