(Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix)

That ’90s Show Interview: Callie Haverda on Playing Leia Forman

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to That ’90s Show star Callie Haverda about Netflix’s sequel series. The actress discussed working with Debra Jo Rupp and learning about the ’90s.

“Hello, Wisconsin! It’s 1995 and Leia Forman, daughter of Eric and Donna, is visiting her grandparents for the summer where she bonds with a new generation of Point Place kids under the watchful eye of Kitty and the stern glare of Red,” reads the official synopsis. “Sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll never dies, it just changes clothes.”

Tyler Treese: This was such a fun show because it works on multiple levels. It’s such a blast for those with nostalgia for That ’70s Show, but it’s very much its own thing. Since the show ended a year before you were born, did you have any familiarity with That ’70s Show?

Callie Haverda: I didn’t, really. My siblings were really big fans, so I kind of vaguely knew about it. I remember my brother was watching it one day and I went into his room and I was like, “Oh, interesting.” But I never sat down and watched it. When I started watching it though, once I got the audition, I absolutely fell in love with it.

Knowing that you were going to play Leia, who, personality-wise, is this combination of Eric and Donna but very much her own person, while you were watching That ’70s Show, were you trying to take little aspects from Topher [Grace]’s and Laura [Helene Prepon]’s performances? How did you manage that?

Yeah, I mean I really wanted Leia to be her own character. So while watching I definitely did feel the vibes. I feel like we all take mannerisms from our parents and learn things from them. So I knew that she would obviously be a little bit like her parents. Honestly, I’m kind of naturally like both of them already. A lot of the things that you might see in the show is just how I performed Leia without really thinking about like, “Oh, I’m trying to be Topher, I’m trying to be Laura.” So that definitely helped in that regard. But yeah, I took some mannerisms but I didn’t really want her to be a carbon copy of them.

In the show, you get to wear the ’90s fashion, there’s a lot of ’90s culture, and you’re using disposable cameras. How was going back in time and experiencing this decade that you weren’t around for?

It was really amazing. I didn’t know a ton about the ’90s. Things I’d seen online and heard from my oldest brother, who grew up in the ’90s. But obviously I didn’t live through the time, so I didn’t really know it. We got these really amazing huge video cameras that had to sit on your shoulder that we got to like film behind-the-scenes-stuff with, so that was really amazing. It was super fun, being able to see all the trinkets in the basement that were ’90s related and play with the disposable cameras, like you said. Yeah, that was really cool — kind of going back in time.

One thing I liked about the show is it is 10 episodes. It’s pretty quick, but it’s almost like one big giant storyline and we see Leia come into her own a bit throughout the season. How fun was that, knowing that you had that throughline for the character and had this story to tell?

It was really amazing being able to kind of show this girl growing up through these 10 episodes, like you said. I think it’s really important, being able to show people’s stories that you know people will probably be able to relate to. I know that while I was performing them, I was relating to it because I, as well, was kind of growing with Leia and we were kind of going through the same things throughout the span of the show. Looking back after having seen all 10 episodes, I really love what we did and I hope people will be able to relate with her story and everything that she went through.

One of the fun elements in this show is the “will they, won’t they” relationship drama. How fun was it going throughout the show? Because in the original series, there are so many different pairings between them. They break up, they reunite. So how fun is it knowing that anything can happen with this pairing and relationships might start somewhere and go into a totally different way in the future?

It was honestly pretty scary. I mean, every week before we’d get the next script, my castmates and I would always talk about, “Ooh, I wonder like what drama’s going be stirring in the next episode. What’s going to happen with the relationships between the characters?” And when we’d read them we would be absolutely shocked and I feel like every week we were kind of going along like, “Ooh, what’s going to happen?” We were super excited for it. Being able to perform that was really fun too because I think we were just all having a ton of fun on set and being able to go through the different relationships and the different dynamics with all the characters was really awesome.

How was working with Debra Jo Rupp? She plays such a fun character as Kitty and obviously you guys get to have a lot of fun behind-the-scenes during those scene transitions where you’re all dancing. It seems like a fun set to be on.

Yeah, it was. I mean, Kurtwood [Smith] and Debra Jo both were so, so supportive and I think we’re all just so excited for this show and so excited for new and old fans to see it. So on set, that kind of childlike excitement was there every day and this big reunion for us all and them being able to experience again what they experienced on ’70s with like this whole new group of kids … it was really epic. And like you said, the dancing with the interstitial parts … I wore a beanie to set one day and somebody saw it and really liked it, so they had me wear it in one of the dance scenes and Debra Jo saw it on me and she was like, “I want a beanie!” So we put a beanie on her too and then we were just dancing around in our beanies and yeah, it was always super new crazy things that you wouldn’t think of every day from both Debra Jo and Kurtwood.

What did it mean for you to get that stamp of approval from all the past stars? Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Wilmer Valderrama, and then obviously your parents on the show, they all came back and gave the okay and have supported this continuation.

Yeah, they have and we’re super, super thankful for that. I mean, having them there and actually in the flesh working on it and being able to talk to them about what they thought about the show was just … it was a really great experience. They’re so supportive and, like I said, we’re just so thankful for it. Having them back solidified like, “Oh, this is really what we’re doing.” I think a lot of people in situations like that can feel imposter syndrome, like “I shouldn’t be here. This is their thing.” But they really were just … I think they were almost like really thankful for us to be there and we were thankful for them. So it was just a really nice dynamic working together and creating this beautiful thing, bringing new and old back together.

Hopefully, we get a second season since there’s still so much more to explore for Leia. How exciting is the prospect of seeing Leia continue to grow? There are some seeds planted that can be followed up in some fun ways.

Yeah, I’m praying for a Season 2 because I think there’s so many different things that we could see Leia do. All of the characters, I think there’s so much that we can do with all of their storylines and just continue to see them grow. I’m excited to see the different relationships, like what Leia will do and what will end up happening. Yeah, I really hope we get to continue that on because I think there’s a lot of good material there.

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