Ashley Aufderheide is still giddy when she thinks about people getting to know her character Gwen when That '90s Show premieres on Thursday, January 19.
"It was the most incredible experience," the actress exclusively tells Morning Honey. "That '70s Show is so iconic, and the fact that I get to be part of That '90s Show is the coolest thing. Gwen is bold, confident and a leader. I love her. I like to say she's my alter ego."
The new series, which follows Leia Forman (Callie Haverda) as she makes friends with Point Place kids while visiting her grandparents, Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp), in Wisconsin, is similar to the original, and the brunette beauty believes the newbies have "the same sort of chemistry" with one another. "It was such a pleasure to be part of an amazing show," Aufderheide says.
Though some of the original cast is returning (Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon, Topher Grace and more), Aufderheide was able to "create her own character, which was amazing."
Additionally, the TV star had never watched That '70s Show prior to her audition, but she put in time and effort to get to know the premise. "I was over the moon when I got the audition. The way I react to amazing news is just by being in shock. It felt too good to be true. When I got the role, I sat in shock and thought, 'This is the most insane thing ever.' I was so happy," she recalls.
Now that Aufderheide is all caught up on the series, which aired from 1998-2006, she was starstruck when she first saw Wilmer Valderrama playing Fez. "I was like, 'I'm around Fez right now. What is happening?'" she jokes. "I've seen the basement and kitchen so many times on TV, and now they're different but the same sort of vibe. I thought, 'I've watched this basement so many times, and now I am the one sitting here. How is this happening?' That was cool."
Of course, getting to work with Kunis and Kutcher was also a dream come true. "They are all so good at their timing and delivery," she notes. "They were such professionals. They always came on time to set and gave us advice. Laura also directed two episodes, so I got to work with her as a director, which was insanely cool. She's so good at it. She would tell me, 'Ashley, I totally get it. When I was playing Donna, as an actress, I get this.' It was really helpful."
"What I love about That '90s Show is that it's a continuation of the original show. I never call it a reboot. I can't wait for people to see the new generation and see all these characters who I personally love," she exclaims. "I could go on all day about how much I love Gwen. I love her so much because she's herself and so authentic. There are so many layers to her. She's a complex character — she's a rebel but also vulnerable and has this really sweet side to her. I strive to be my most authentic self, and Gwen is definitely that, which I really admire."
That '90s Show premieres on Netflix on Thursday, January 19.