Three decades after he became a household name playing Winnie Cooper’s baby-faced bae on The Wonder Years, Fred Savage is still getting by with a little help from his friends. On the brilliant new Netflix comedy Friends From College, he stars as Max, a late-30s gay literary agent reliving his glory days with his writer pal Ethan (Keegan-Michael Key) as they try to pitch a YA book about sexy werewolves.
OUT: Friends From College is about six friends living in New York. What would you say to viewers expecting a modern-day Friends?
Fred Savage: Friends was very forward-looking. It was about a group in their mid-20s linking arm in arm, marching towards the future together. This group is very regressive—they’re looking back. They don’t really want to address what’s coming down the road.
Billy Eichner plays Max’s fertility-doctor boyfriend, Felix. What’s their story?
The show is about the old friendships these six people made in college, and all of them neglect more important things in life to nurture them. A lot of the scenes between Max and Felix are about us not connecting because of that. We’re a casualty.
These friends all have demons. What’s Max’s?
I’d say an unrequited love for Ethan, Keegan-Michael Key’s character. We leave it ambiguous, but there’s an aspect of their relationship that drives and haunts Max.
Their best scene is when they get really high brainstorming ideas for Ethan’s book and you do a tap-dance number. Did you already know tap?
Yeah, I took tap and jazz for years! The only thing we faked was the sound—it was someone’s actual apartment and we couldn’t mess up the hardwood floors with taps.
Max and Ethan also reminisce about Monica Lewinsky: The Musical, which they wrote in college. Whose idea was that?
I think [the show’s creator] Nick Stoller actually did it in college, but Keegan and I came up with the tunes and choreography. I guess that’s why I studied dance all those years—to use it as an adult for Netflix.
These friends went to Harvard, and you went to Stanford right after starring in one of the biggest shows of the ’90s. What was that like?
Great. Everyone there was extraordinary, so any novelty about my doing a TV show faded pretty quickly. Next door to me was a guy who spent the summer cloning the tuberculosis gene, trying to find a cure. Tiger Woods was in the next dorm over. Chelsea Clinton came soon after. I think Reese Witherspoon was a year behind me.
I did the math and have this theory that your famous character Kevin Arnold, who grew up in the ’60s, is actually Max’s dad. Thoughts?
I mean, if you crunched the numbers and it made sense, why not?
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