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The trio opened up together for the first time about the fallout from Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett and Barr’s subsequent firing by ABC. According to the actors, they are thankful that the scandal led to their new spinoff series, The Conners.
“There was the feeling of not wanting it to go away until we were ready,” Goodman told the magazine. “There was a debt owed to this fictional family. We want to finish telling this story.”
Goodman, who spent years playing Barr’s onscreen husband Dan Conner, went on to recall the first time he heard about his TV wife’s since-deleted, offensive tweet — in which she likened Jarrett to the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.”
“[I was] in my kitchen and maybe my daughter or my wife told me,” he said. “It just didn’t seem true. Then it got true. I was consciously trying to accept it.”
Gilbert said she made an attempt to compartmentalize the news: “I don’t remember too much. It was more just, ‘OK, what are we dealing with today?'” she explained. “I was just kind of taking things one step at a time as they came.”
For her part, Metcalf was in New York, performing in Three Tall Women on Broadway, when Barr sent out the tweet in May. “[I found out] on the news, actually,” she recalled. “And I [first] thought, ‘Oh, I wonder if we still have a show.’ Because of how heavy everything became.”
After Roseanne was canceled, Goodman said he clung to “the hope of resurrecting it.” Of the rebooted ABC series, which scored impressive ratings for the network, he elaborated, “It was so unbelievable to do this show and it was like easy come, easy go.”
Added Metcalf: “And you know, coming off such a high, it was hard to wrap our heads around.”
Metcalf revealed that although the cast was hopeful about a spinoff, they were initially hesitant. “There was a lot of risk involved,” she said. “But we all decided as a group to take the risk, knowing that we could be judged by deciding to come back.”
As has been previously reported, ABC would not consider any sort of Roseanne spinoff if it meant that Barr would receive any financial compensation. Once Barr agreed, The Conners was able to move forward — which helped hundreds of below-the-line employees keep their jobs after they were blindsided by the network’s decision to cancel the show following its star’s online controversy.
“That was a very big deal,” Goodman told People of Barr allowing The Conners to proceed. “To give us a chance.”
Barr’s character, Roseanne Conner, reportedly will be killed off and season one of the spinoff will center around the Conners coming to terms with her absence.
“Any sadness that we feel over what we’ve lost we’re hopefully channeling in an honest way into the show,” said Gilbert. “And our show has always been able to deal with heavy topics, particularly for a sitcom. It’s been kind of built into the mix.”
Goodman, Gilbert and Metcalf’s interview comes more than a month after Goodman teased Barr’s character’s fate in a profile with the U.K.s Times. “I guess he’ll be mopey and sad,” Goodman said of his character’s upcoming storyline, “because his wife’s dead.”
The Conners is set to premiere Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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