All eyes have been on That ’90s Show. The Netflix sequel series to That ’70s Show has become an instant hit amongst fans, prompting a quick season 2 renewal. The show features a talented ensemble cast of young stars, including Ashley Aufderheide, who plays Leia’s rebellious best friend and next-door neighbor, Gwen Runck. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Ashley about embracing all of Gwen’s energy and her reaction to the finale.
“Gwen is very bold. I think she’s a leader, and she says she’s the queen of her group, which is cute,” Ashley told HollywoodLife. “I liked that line. For me, I think I’m an extrovert. I’m pretty confident myself, and I think I’ve learned a little bit about confidence through Gwen. Her style is very bold and unique. I’m trying to up my style game as well.”
She added, “She’s influenced my style, but also just her confidence. I was already confident, but she definitely took that to the next level speaking her mind and being undeniably herself. I feel like the scene when you first meet her when she’s just jamming out in her room is so emblematic of her. That was also part of my audition scene as well. So it’s definitely stuck with me and holds true to my heart. I feel like Gwen is just emblematic of confidence. She’s sort of my alter ego.”
At the end of the season, Leia leaves Point Place after a life-changing summer. While Leia spent the summer pining for Jay, she ended up realizing her feelings for Gwen’s brother, Nate. So, does Gwen approve of her best friend dating her brother?
“I think that she’s okay with it. I think she’s a protective friend,” Ashley says. “Obviously, she loves her brother. It’s her brother, even though they squabble sometimes. And Leia, of course, is her best friend. It’s just two people that she loves. And if it makes them happy, she’s going to support it.”
Now that the show is getting a second season, you can look forward to Gwen getting a love interest. “So I actually asked the writers if we get to season 2 what we’re going to be doing, and they said that she would have a boyfriend,” Ashley admitted. “I was sort of deducing who that would be or if it would be someone new. It could only be Jay, right? But then if Jay and Leia continue, then that doesn’t work. And then it would have to be a new character.”
The actress would love to meet Gwen’s dad and explore more of Gwen’s “family dynamic” in season 2. “I think I definitely want to explore Gwen’s bond with Nate a bit more, and maybe just have a scene with Sherri, Nate, and Gwen,” she continued.
Prior to That ’90s Show, Ashley had never really dabbled in the world of comedy before. “I did a dramedy years ago, but this was my first comedy in front of a live audience,” Ashley told HollywoodLife. “I don’t have a theater background or anything like that, so it was something really different for me. Four cameras, an audience, it was really intense. There was pressure, but it was good. Pressure just motivates you to do better, and you want to get that laugh. You want to make the crowd happy.”
Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith reprised their roles as the beloved Kitty and Red Forman in the Netflix series. The first season also featured the returns of Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Wilmer Valderrama.
“I definitely got to meet a lot of them, the legacy cast. All of them are so hilarious in person. It extends beyond their characters,” the actress noted. “They’re so professional, and their timing and delivery are always so on point. They gave good advice and welcomed us with open arms and really just made the transition into comedy for me a lot easier. They’re all incredible. I don’t have a single bad thing to say.”
Over the course of filming the first season, Ashley said that Debra Jo and Kurtwood always emphasized having fun and staying authentic. “I think in the business overall, it’s easy for people to want to influence you down to what you wear, what you say, or how you act. It’s just important to stay authentic to who you are, and then that’ll shine through your character,” Ashley said. “Actually, for Gwen, she was originally described as a petite powerhouse with pink hair. I don’t have pink hair, and I’m not petite either. They actually changed the character to be a little bit more like me. So when they were saying to just stay authentic and be true and real to yourself, I really took that to heart because they liked who I was, and they changed Gwen for that.”
Ashley pointed out that she is well aware of how “people can be skeptical with reboots,” but she’s “really glad about the response that it’s getting. I actually do read the comments. I can’t help myself. I know people told me not to, but I do. I’ve just been overwhelmed with love and support. It’s just great that we put all this hard work in, I put in a lot of effort, and all of us did and just seeing that people appreciate that is really nice to see and hear.” That ’90s Show season 1 is streaming on Netflix.