‘The Conners’ Star Michael Fishman Talks Drawing from Past History on ‘Roseanne’

by Allison Hambrick

The Conners actor Michael Fishman revealed a handy trick on how to make the show feel authentic: revisiting Roseanne.

“When I direct, I go back and look at old episodes,” he explained to Movieweb. “I’m pulling the right tone and combining where we are now with where we were then. As the director it’s important to have kind of a holistic view of the project and its history and where it comes from. And it’s very important that we honor that because that’s what carries forward.”

As one of the most popular shows of the 1990s, Roseanne still has a sizable fanbase. It makes sense for Fishman to focus on capturing the appeal of the original show for The Conners.

“People have a 30-year connection with us,” Fishman added.”People have almost a lifetime of interaction, so it’s gotta ring authentic and there are things that we do or that are unique to us that, after 20 years, you know you can get away from some of those things or you can forget about them. So it’s important to really monitor that and bring that back, but do it in subtle ways so that you’re not trying to force it. And especially trying to honor the writers that we have now and not trying to add something specific just because you saw it once. Only adding things that fit the moment or the scene.”

Additionally, Fishman has made the executive decision to throw in callbacks before. As long as they fit the story, he is game to do some fan service. This is especially true when dealing with his television father, John Goodman.

“One thing I asked John to do in this episode is a callback to something that we did in some of the early years of the show,” Fishman said. He had reactions behind a guest at the house which is something he used to do a lot of, so part of it is making sure you’ve done your homework and you remember all the things that should be a part of this character. But not trying to come in and be a dictator as a director, because it just doesn’t work that way.”

Fishman Praises The Conners Costars

When discussing his directorial duties, Fishman was very clear on how working with current and former costars affects his work. He believes that the strength of The Conners comes from its talented actors.

“Between [Goodman] and Laurie Metcalf, it is an embarrassment of riches, and we have a great cast, not including them,” said Fishman. “But those two by themselves are such legends. You know, it’s almost… are you smart enough to get out of the way and not let ego play any role in it? Just let them show you what they’re thinking. Then fine-tune or make small suggestions here or there where you think it benefits, and learn to be collaborative. Because the only thing you can do to mess it up is get in the way.”

For Fishman, working on The Conners with people he’s know for most of his life is ideal. He especially enjoys the opportunity to be in proximity to John Goodman.

“I never take for granted how amazing it is to stand next to him every day and to play,” said Fishman. “And now to direct him! To get to participate and occasionally suggest things or add an action or add something to add depth to something. John’s a master. It is watching a legend who is masterful at what he does day in and day out.”