After 21 years, sequel Fuller House comes full circle for cast

With the return of the Tanners in Fuller House, a new generation of viewers can embark on fresh adventures with one of America’s favourite TV families.

From left, Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber, Bob Saget, Lori Loughlin, John Stamos and Dave Coulier in Fuller House. In a spin on the original Full House, the three female stars are now taking care of their young sons. Michael Yarish / courtesy Netflix
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Many of us can look back on a handful of television shows that we loved sitting down together and watching as a family – back in the days when the only way to watch TV was on the big box in the corner of the living room.

Now, after years of campaigning by devoted fans, one of the most popular TV families is back to entertain our own broods all over again, with Fuller House.

Yes, thanks to Netflix's appetite for nostalgia with a twist, the Tanners of Full House are back for a sequel, 21 years after we last saw them, with 13 new episodes now available to stream.

One could argue that Full House, a sitcom about a widowed father who recruits his best friend and his brother-in-law to help him raise his three daughters, never really went away. The original ABC series, which broadcast 192 episodes over eight hit seasons between 1987 and 1995, has lived on in international syndication.

The fresh twist for the sequel is simple, says Jeff Franklin, creator of the original and showrunner of the new version.

“[We] basically just flipped the premise: Let’s have three women taking care of three boys instead of three guys taking care of three little girls,” he says.

“We also have the opportunity to show flashbacks, bring back characters [and] reference what happened 25 years ago. I mean, there’s no other show that I know of that can do that.”

While viewers will be treated to guest appearances by most of the original cast – including the "dads": Danny Tanner (Bob Saget, 59), Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos, 52, who also appeared in ER and stars in his own Fox sitcom, Grandfathered) and Joey Gladstone (stand-up comic Dave Coulier, 56) – Fuller House updates the show's characters and situation to the modern day. The focus now is on the grown-up daughters, still played by the original stars, who tackle the fresh challenges of raising kids in 2016.

Veterinarian D J Tanner-­Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure) is a recently widowed mum of three young sons. Her sister Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin), is a DJ and musician who takes a break from her career to move in and help raise her nephews, as does best friend Kimmy Gibler (­Andrea Barber), a professional party planner and single mum of a teenage daughter.

Though she continued acting after Full House, Cameron Bure – who made a memorable impression when she finished third on Dancing With the Stars in 2014 – is still best remembered for her portrayal of the conscientious, ­level-headed D J Tanner. "You know, being on Full House was my whole childhood," says the 39-year-old.

"I was on the show from 10 to 18, so the memories are endless. I had my Full House family, and I had my real family at home."

Her three sons are 12-year-old Jackson (Michael Campion), 7-year-old Max (Elias Harger) and baby Tommy (played by twins Dashiell and Fox Messitt).

“Obviously, it’s a different world today than it was 25 years ago and now we’re raising kids in a time of computers and email and mobile phones and texting and web dating,” says Cameron Bure.

“There are very different challenges to raising kids today, but we’re going to figure it out on the show, right along with our audience as they’re going through the exact same thing with their kids.”

In real life, Cameron Bure is also a mother of three, and says aspects her personality and parenting come through on screen.

“D J was a very grounded child – that A-type personality, firstborn – and she’s that way as a mum as well,” she says. “She’s a little innocent in ways, but she’s a strict parent. There’s nothing loosey-goosey about her.”

Stephanie is more of a free spirit, like the youngster that viewers adored on the original series.

“[Stephanie] has always had kind of a spunky, fun spirit – you know, a lot of the one-liners, the little sarcastic quips,” says Sweetin, 34. “She definitely still brings that to the adult she is today. I like to describe her as sort of a bon vivant – she just kind of goes wherever life takes her.”

Completing the parental trinity is Barber, 39, who retired from acting after Full House but couldn't say no to a return. "It's like Kimmy Gibbler's been hiding inside of me for 20 years, and now I get to bring her out again," she says of reprising the role. "She's still tons of fun, and she's taken her sense of fun and turned it into a career."

Two faces you won’t see in the reboot are twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, now 29, who took turns playing Michelle Tanner, from the age of nine months.

"Ashley said: 'I have not been in front of a camera since I was 17 and I don't feel comfortable acting'," Fuller House executive producer Bob Boyett told People magazine. "Mary-Kate said: 'It would have to be me because Ash doesn't want to do it. But the timing is so bad for us.'"

The twins now devote much of their energies to the beauty and fashion industry and have their own couture label, The Row.

"We always were very cognisant of the fact that Full House has a nice, warm legacy with our fans and we didn't want to come back and screw that up," says Coulier. "Once we heard the way Netflix wanted to bring the show together, it clicked with us. I think we all had that 'light bulb', 'aha' moment: 'This is it. We can move forward, finally.'"

“The show should be called Full Circle,” he adds, “because we’ve really gone full circle.”

"What made Full House so special was the chemistry between the cast," Franklin says. "They took [the writing] and elevated it to a whole other ­dimension."

“Just to hear the characters come alive after 20-some years was so awesome,” says Cameron Bure. “Nobody skipped a beat – it was like we just fell into the roles right away.”

All episodes of Fuller House are available to stream now on Netflix