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This '90s Star Says He Was Retired From Acting Until This TV Revival

Freddie Prinze Jr. couldn't resist getting back in front of the camera for this '80s revival.

In the late '90s and early 2000s, Freddie Prinze Jr. was the biggest teen heartthrob out there. He starred in the rom-com She's All That, the slasher movie I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel, and the live-action adaptation of Scooby-Doo. But in recent years, he's focused on voiceover work and raising his two children with Sarah Michelle Gellar. However, there is one project that managed to bring him back to work: Freddie Prinze Jr. is starring on the revival of Punky Brewster.

The classic '80s sitcom has returned in a new form on NBC's streaming service Peacock. In an interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Prinze explained why this gig was the one that got him back in front of the camera. Keep reading to see what he had to say, and the role Gellar played in his decision. And to read about some more stars of this era, check out The Biggest '90s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.

Prinze considered himself retired from acting.

Freddie Prinze Jr and Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show
The Kelly Clarkson Show/YouTube

Prinze appeared on a recent episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show along with Punky Brewster herself, Soleil Moon Frye—her in person and him via video. The 44-year-old actor explained that he was done with acting and was spending time raising his children, 11-year-old Charlotte and 8-year-old Rocky, with Gellar, his wife of 19 years.

"It was wild," Prinze told host Kelly Clarkson. "I was kind of done acting. I was a full-time father, nothing got filmed in L.A. anymore, so I didn't want to leave for six months a year."

Prinze has been doing voiceover work in recent years, including for the series Star Wars Rebels and Robot Chicken, and appears in the gaming series Gegg Wars, but his last on-screen acting job was on an episode of Bones in 2014.

Read about some other actors who retired in 15 Stars Who Quit Acting After Hitting It Big.

A famous friend got him the job.

Freddie Prinze Jr. at the 'End of Days' premiere in 1999
Featureflash Photo Agency /

Prinze said that his friend Brian Austin Green, of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, called him and said, "They like you for this show, and you should read the script. My friend Soleil is in it, and if you meet her you'll fall in love with her."

Prinze was unsure, but Green convinced him to read the script, especially since the show filmed in Los Angeles.

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Gellar was adamant that he take the role.

Freddie Prinze Jr and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a selfie on Instagram

When Gellar found out her husband had been offered a part on the Punky Brewster revival, she made sure he took it. "I start reading [the script], and I start laughing while I'm reading it, and Sarah goes, 'What are you reading?'" Prinze told Clarkson. "And I said, 'You wouldn't believe me if I told you.' And she goes, 'Tell me what you're reading, you jerk!' She calls me that a lot, by the way." When he told her it was the pilot for the Punky Brewster revival, "everything just stopped," Prinze explained. "She said, 'Oh my god, you're doing it!'"

As Prinze pointed out in an interview on Entertainment Tonight, Gellar and Frye had worked together as kids on a show called Girl Talk in 1989.

To read more about this longstanding Hollywood couple, check out 12 Beloved, Long-Term Celebrity Couples, Then and Now.

His character is part of Punky's adult life. 

Freddie Prinze Jr., Soleil Moon Frye, and Cherie Johnson on 'Punky Brewster'
Tyler Golden/Peacock

When Prinze met Frye, he knew he was ready to commit to the series. "Soleil and I met, and everything [Gellar and Green] said about her was right," he told Clarkson. "I just said, 'Look, I know you guys heard that I wasn't really doing this anymore, but if you guys want me, then I'll give you 100 percent.'"

While the original Punky Brewster was about a young girl in a foster family played by Frye, the revival shows her grown up and raising three kids of her own. Prinze plays her ex-husband, Travis. The updated series also features Punky's best friend, Cherie, who is once again played by Cherie Johnson, who you may also remember from Family Matters.

You can watch Prinze on the new Punky Brewster now—all 10 episodes are available on Peacock. And if you're looking for something else to watch this weekend, check out 13 Netflix Shows You Can Watch From Start to Finish This Weekend.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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