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‘So Grateful’: Danica McKellar Recalls Making WONDER YEARS Pilot

Photo from Danica McKellar’s Instagram

‘So Grateful’: Danica McKellar Recalls Making WONDER YEARS Pilot

By Movieguide® Contributor

Danica McKellar recently shared some behind-the-scenes memories about making the first episode of THE WONDER YEARS. 

“One thing about it that’s interesting is that most pilots or first episodes or any episodes would shoot for maybe five days, five to six days,” she said in a video for Great American Family. “We shot it — it took us nine days. The producers were perfectionists, and they wanted everything to be perfect.”

McKellar added that the pilot episode “aired right after the Super Bowl in 1988” and looked a little different than later episodes. For example, there were no opening credits — just a black screen and the show’s famous theme song, Joe Cocker’s cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

“The original narrator was not the same,” she also noted. “Daniel Stern didn’t come in until we re-aired the pilot later on that year.”

McKellar then gave fans some details about the kiss her character, Winnie, shared with co-star Fred Savage, who played Kevin. 

“I had a huge, huge crush on Fred Savage at the time,” she revealed. “When I first saw him at the audition, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that guy is so cute.’ And here we were shooting this episode, and I knew I was going to be kissing him, so I was really excited and really nervous, because I’d never kissed anybody in my whole life before.”

In the scene, Winnie has just found out her older brother was killed in action while serving in Vietnam. She and Kevin meet in the woods and share a kiss. 

“I smiled, which I shouldn’t have been doing, because it wasn’t that kind of scene,” McKellar laughed. “It was not a happy scene. They had to tell me, ‘Don’t smile again.’ But I couldn’t help it! I was about to have my first kiss.”

She concluded, “That was many, many years ago, but it was the foundation of so much of my career now, and I’m so grateful to have been on THE WONDER YEARS.”

McKellar spoke about her love for the show in an interview with Remind Magazine, saying, “The best part is how enduring people’s feelings about the show have been.”

I’m so blown away that over 30 years later, people still love the show so much. It’s all the nostalgia and good feelings,” she continued. “I love that I get to still make people feel good, and they can watch my movies on Great American Family.”

Her latest movie for GAF is A ROYAL CHRISTMAS BALL, which will air as part of the network’s Christmas programming this year. 

A description of the movie reads:

In A ROYAL CHRISTMAS BALL, Chelsea Jones (McKellar) is a dance instructor and studio owner in Chicago who inspires kids to find themselves through dance. Just before Christmas, Chelsea discovers a photo she’s never seen before. Chelsea thinks the young woman is her birth mother who passed away when she was only five years old. The woman is in a wedding dress tugging on the hand of a man wearing a wedding ring, but that is all that can be seen of the man Chelsea believes may be her father. The photo’s handwritten inscription reads, “Our place, Havenshire, December 23, 1984.” With only the internet, a plane ticket, and lifelong determination to go on, Chelsea now has four days in Havenshire to solve the mystery of her birth family. Along the way, she’ll have to sneak into a castle, teach a stubborn Prince how to dance, and be in just the right place on Christmas Eve when the bells toll.


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