Danica McKellar Reveals How She Almost Missed Her Role as Winnie on THE WONDER YEARS
By Movieguide® Contributor
Child acting isn’t the easiest career path, and Danica McKellar’s mother, Mahaila, had some ground rules for her and her sister, Crystal, when they auditioned for THE WONDER YEARS.
“This was going to be a hobby only. No series regular auditions, and no auditions for feature films that would take us out of town,” McKellar told TV INSIDER’S MY AUDITION STORY of her audition for the hit show that first aired 35 years ago.
“She wanted school, family, home life to come first,” she added.
But auditioning for the role of Winnie Cooper was not initially a concern for McKellar’s mother, because the character was just supposed to be in one episode. However, soon after Danica got the part and they shot the pilot, producers wanted to make her a regular character on the show.
“Well, now we’re shooting the pilot. And by the way, we audition on that Thursday and Friday. And then we started shooting Tuesday. That’s how fast it was,” the 48-year-old recalled. “[T]hen, about four days into shooting, the producers approached my mom and I and said, we think that Danica and Fred [Savage] have this amazing chemistry. We want to offer her a series regular role. The network has approved it.”
Mahaila was hesitant, but seeing how the other children were treated helped change her mind.
“By that point, we had already been on set and she saw that Joanne Savage and Jane Saviano and Marsha Hervey—the moms of the other kids on the show—were all so grounded, and they really cared about their kids being kids first,” McKellar said. “It wasn’t going to be one of those Hollywood situations where the kids are being pushed in front of the camera when they’re sick… If somebody wasn’t feeling well, the mom pulled them.”
She said, in the end, getting the role was “meant to be.”
“If they knew from the beginning that it was going to be a series regular role, I never would’ve auditioned for it,” McKellar said.
So was there any sibling rivalry since Danica got the part, and her sister did not?
Turns out Crystal got a different role on the show!
“Ultimately, they chose me, but they said, ‘We love Crystal so much, we’re going to write a role for her.’ And they did,” McKellar said.
It came down to her and her sister out of the many other girls who auditioned for the part of Winnie. Crystal ended up playing Becky Slater who was Kevin Arnold’s (Fred Savage) girlfriend turned “nemesis” in the series.
McKellar recently posted on instagram celebrating the anniversary of the beloved 80’s series:
“Happy 35th Anniversary to The Wonder Years! On January 31st, 1988, we premiered on @abcnetwork immediately following the Superbowl, and my life would be forever changed. I’m so grateful for the incredible memories, but even more grateful for all of you who have followed my career from that heartwarming, family tv show to the heartwarming movies I feel so fortunate to make today on @gactv”
The CHRISTMAS AT THE DRIVE-IN actress has recently come to faith in Christ and thanked her good friend Candace Cameron Bure for the influence she’s had in her life.
The actresses talked about faith and how they celebrate Christmas in an episode of The Candace Cameron Bure Podcast, and McKellar took the time to thank Bure for giving her one of the greatest gifts of all.
“Candace, I don’t want to brush over the huge, huge impact that you’ve had on my life this year,” McKellar started. “I don’t even know how to call that, like, friendship. It’s more than that. Because of you helping me to find my relationship with God and Jesus, it’s been like a revolution in my life. It’s been a revelation in my life.”
She continued, “You gave me this Bible that I read all the time and I love it so much and I go to church now and I just, I talk to Jesus all the time every day. It’s unbelievable. And you were like my guide. You were just an angel in my life and you still are. And I just wanna thank you for that publicly.”
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