PASADENA (AFP) – Hollywood is hardly a big fan of Donald Trump, but on the upcoming reboot of Roseanne, the title character will be a supporter of the Republican president.
The award-winning ABC sitcom is returning for a 10th season in March, after a gap of 21 years, and actress Roseanne Barr says depicting her working-class character as pro-Trump was a necessity.
“I’ve always tried have it be a true reflection of the society we live in. I feel like half the people voted for Trump and half didn’t, so it’s just realistic,” Barr said Monday.
The 65-year-old told journalists at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, southern California, that hating people for the way they voted in 2016 was “not American”.
“And, in fact, it was working-class people who elected Trump, so I felt like that was very real and something that needed to be discussed,” she added.
Barr has been a vocal Trump supporter on Twitter, telling her 430,000 followers she voted for him to “shake up” the status quo and because he is “draining the swamp” and going after child sex traffickers.
The atmosphere in Pasadena’s Langham Huntington hotel was testy at times, with one journalist asking how a character who had shown herself to be anti-racist could realistically be written now as supporting a bigot.
“That’s your opinion,” Barr responded curtly, before conceding that the president talked “a lot of crazy shit” and insisting she was not a “Trump apologist”.
“There are a lot of things he has said and done that I don’t agree with, like there’s probably a lot of things that Hillary Clinton has done and said that you don’t agree with,” she said.
The actress said a large part of her unwillingness to vote for Clinton was “Haiti”, a reference to debunked claims that the Clintons raised millions of dollars for a hospital for the islanders that was never built.
Asked what she thought of speculation that Oprah Winfrey will run for president after her rousing speech at the Golden Globes on Sunday, Barr said she loved the media powerhouse “like everyone else”.
“But I think it was time as a country for us to shake things up and, you know, try something different,” added Barr, who ran for president with both the Green Party and the Peace and Freedom Party in 2012, but ended up voting for Barack Obama.
Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon’s name was then floated and Barr replied: “Actually, I think I would be a better president than Oprah and Susan Sarandon.”
Roseanne, which ran on ABC from 1988 to 1997, featured Barr as the outspoken mother of four children in a blue-collar family.
Aficionados may be surprised to see John Goodman back in the cast, after his character Dan Connor, Roseanne’s husband, died of a heart attack in the original run.
Goodman, who went on to arguably the most high-profile career of all the cast, including starring roles in The Big Lebowski, The Artist and 10 Cloverfield Lane, said getting back into character was a cinch.
“For me it was easy as pie, like falling out of bed, putting on an old shoe,” the 65-year-old told journalists.
Sara Gilbert, 42, who played Roseanne’s daughter Darlene, said she was persuaded to come on board when Goodman said on her CBS talk show The Talk that he was keen for a reunion season.
“The working class has been under-represented in politics and on television and this just felt like a wonderful time to try to give some people a voice in this country,” Gilbert said.
Roseanne’s elder daughter Becky was played by Lecy Goranson in the first five seasons before the role was taken over by Sarah Chalke.
Both actresses appear in the revival, with Goranson returning in her old role and Chalke taking the part of Andrea, a married woman who hires Becky to be her surrogate.
The first episode of the revived Roseanne will air on ABC on March 27, with Barr revealing she is ready if called upon to start work on an 11th season.
“This is one of these shows that is able to balance a lot of comedy but find those moments of heart and depth that you don’t expect,” said Tony Award-winning Laurie Metcalf, who plays Roseanne’s sister Jackie.
“In the next nine episodes, there are at least a handful of them, and they come at the least suspected moments and they really are truly heartfelt and surprising.”