Jason Hervey is probably best known as Wayne Arnold from The Wonder Years. Wayne was a fantastic, hilarious character, stealing nearly every scene he was in. Even if he didn’t have any lines in a particular scene, you could usually count on Wayne to be in the background, making faces or sticking stuff up his nose. He was pretty much my favorite.
So with the upcoming DVD release, (which we mentioned yesterday can now be pre-ordered) Jason was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to chat with us about the cast reunion, what to expect from the upcoming set, and reminisce about the series in general.
UPROXX: You guys did a lot of reunion footage for the DVD extras. How was it seeing everyone after all these years, or have you kept in touch at all?
Jason: Yeah, you know, on an individual basis, we’ve kept in touch — but that was the first time that the entire group of us has gotten together in sixteen years, so it was beyond a treat to get to see everybody and catch up. It really was just a great, great day.
UPROXX: I can imagine. I know the fans were just going crazy from all the photos you guys were posting on Twitter and everything.
Jason: Oh yeah, and we were having just as much fun as they were. And we really have the best fans in the world, if you think about how many television shows have come and gone — for us to stand the test of time and mean so much to people after all the time that’s gone by, it’s more than an honor.
UPROXX: As far as the DVD features go, can you talk a little bit more about what fans can expect?
Jason: For the first time we all got together, and we were talking about our experiences from the show, and our favorite moments, and all of those things, but we were really talking about what we meant to each other, and our opinions of the characters, and of what it was like, and some of our favorite episodes. So they’re going to hear conversations that — some of them — we’ve never had. And some of them, we’ve only had off-camera. It really was a first.
UPROXX: You were amazingly convincing at just being this dickhead older brother, but I’ve heard you’ve said that your personality as a kid could not have been further from Wayne. Was there any place that you drew inspiration from?
Jason: Oh! My brother Scott was the real Wayne Arnold. There were so many things that I borrowed from our real life experiences. I’ll give you an example: We had taken Fred (Savage) — Juliette Lewis was my girlfriend on the show at the time, and it was the driver’s license episode. We took Fred — I mean, Kevin — to the mall because my mom made us, and I dropped him off at the absolute, absolute furthest end of the mall parking lot and I said to him, “Well, technically, this is the mall.” And when I picked him up, of course, he was already flirting with this girl, and sure enough Wayne pulls up and I tell him to get in the car, and then every time he went to reach for the door, I kept jerking it forward. And obviously, the first day of 7th grade, my brother did that to me in real life, and just embarrassed the hell out of me.
But there were other time where I was myself, and I would have a heart, you know, when you knew the character and knew what he was gonna do, there would be something that would get your attention. That’s why I would always say that Wayne’s the brother that you love to hate.
UPROXX: This is a question that I have to ask. We have a large male readership, many of whom grew up in love with Winnie Cooper — did any of you guys in the cast have crushes on Danica McKellar? I don’t want to get anyone in trouble!
Jason: Me, definitely not. I was a couple of years older than her, and at that time it seems like a lifetime of years. Even though it wasn’t that many years in reality, it felt that way. But I would say there was definitely something, and — I don’t know if it was Fred to Danica, or Danica to Fred — but you could tell that there was a little bit of something. I mean, they both had their first kiss together on camera. I would say that there was probably a little bit of an innocent crush that existed there. I don’t think there was for Josh. But you know, she was really like my little sister. And to this day, I don’t even look at her like that. I mean, it’s like we’re a big family. Everybody was really just very good friends. There’s no elicit details or steamy affairs, no anything.
UPROXX: I met her a few years back, and she is just such a nice person. And so gorgeous, she’s just shockingly beautiful in person.
Jason: Yeah, you know, it’s funny because I would say say most people, especially guys, after they say “Oh, it was such a great show, you played such a jerk,” usually the next thing out of their mouth is, “Boy, was Winnie Cooper hot.” I would say, “Yeah, that’s what everybody says.” But she’s really just like my little sister.
UPROXX: What do you think Wayne would have turned out like as an adult? Do you think he would have turned out more like his dad?
Jason: Yes, yes, without a doubt. Like his dad, but more mischievous. But I mean, you know, with Wayne, in the final episode I ended up taking over the family furniture factory. So definitely Wayne would have followed in Jack’s footsteps. And you know, the sad part, based on the show and how it ended — the father passed away. So Wayne just wanted that respect and validation in his father’s eyes, but unfortunately he didn’t get to see it because he passed away.
UPROXX: You mentioned that in the DVD footage you guys talk about some of your favorite episodes. Do you have a couple off of the top of your head?
Jason: Yeah, “Hiroshima Mon Frere” was a great episode. And that was the episode where, you know, I killed their hamster that was for a school project and put him in the garbage disposal by accident [ed note: he actually sucked him up in the vacuum] — that was a good one. And the one where my best friend Wart came home from Vietnam, that was a really touching episode.
But one of my favorite ones though, was the one where it was Thanksgiving, and Jack had just had a promotion at his job and he was gonna be on the road more, and it was going to be the first Thanksgiving that he missed. But what I loved about the episode was that for the kids, it was the first time they got to see their parents as a couple, and not just as mom and dad. And there were some great moments in that episode, because there was Jack, who was the patriarch, wasn’t going to make Thanksgiving, and all of us didn’t know what to do. You know, everyone didn’t know how to carve the turkey or do any of those things. Obviously at the end of the episode, he flew in for an hour and gave us hugs. He did the right thing, he came home and saw the family. That was a really, really good episode.
UPROXX: Well I just want to thank you so much for your time, and everybody is really excited for the DVD set. Thanks to you and the rest of the cast for putting in so much effort, it’s really going to be worth it after waiting all these years.
Jason: And not only that, taking about the effort, you have to acknowledge Time Life. Those guys, they stepped up to the plate. They did everything that was required to secure the music, which is just as big a character of the show as I am. Which just really, really made it so special. I mean, they recreated the entire kitchen set, they spared no expense in the production value. And it as just so great, and not only is it going to be a really big treat for the fans, it was a really big treat for us. Like I said, we’re just excited as the fans are.