In our collective memory, Michael Fishman is chubby-cheeked D.J. on Roseanne. In ABC’s reboot, Fishman is now the age John Goodman was when the show started.
Fishman, 36, still has grandmothers come up and pinch his cheeks. But he’s very much an adult, married for half of his life and the father of two teenagers. He’s loving life, especially working with the old gang. “It is almost not fair to enjoy what you do this much,” he says.
Usually when a show ends — Roseanne ran from 1988-97— the cast scatters. Fishman, though, never lost contact with Roseanne Barr and others. He was 6, then the youngest child on the show, when Roseanne premiered. Now he’s back, playing an Army vet who is the father of a biracial child and is struggling to find his way. Close viewers of the original series will realize D.J.’s wife, serving in Syria, is Geena, the girl he refused to kiss in a school play in the original run.
Fishman wants to do justice to vets in his portrayal and is proud to play someone in an interracial marriage.
Since the series ended, Fishman did guest spots on a few shows and learned more about the business from the other side of the camera. He answered our “5 Questions” while driving.
- Tell us about a time you were starstruck. It was more over baseball players. I got to talk hitting with Tony Gwynn. And I got a lot of time with Barry Bonds, and that led to time with Willie Mays. I was in a hitting conversation with Barry and Bobby [Bonds] and Willie Mays during a rain delay in Pittsburgh that was a good 45 minutes. I tried to soak up everything I could. I was 12.
- Who would be your ideal three guests — living or dead — for a dinner party? Jackie Robinson, Gandhi and then Tupac Shakur. They are all multidimensional.
- What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry? I have to have fresh fruits and fresh vegetables; those are my snacks of choice. It sounds strange, but I am more aware of every day how lucky I am to be able to get clean water as more and more people struggle with it.
- What was the biggest splurge item you bought? I am not a big splurger. I like to give things to other people. I was a coach, and one year I decided I would buy the whole Little League team major league jackets and get their names embroidered on the back and first names on the front. I wanted to get bigger sizes so they could wear them long-term.
- If acting weren’t your profession, what career would you have had?
I would have dreamed to be a baseball player. I went as far as I could. I have been a coach. I enjoy and honor helping people chase their dreams. I want to produce, direct and write, so that would be next.