'The Conners': Lecy Goranson Opens Up About Becky's Pregnancy and Life Without Roseanne Barr (Exclusive)
By Emily Krauser
Now that Roseanne has officially found new life as The Conners, the beloved, revitalized sitcom has become more of a true ensemble piece than it ever had the chance to truly be in its original (well, first two) iterations. At the heart of that is not only patriarch Dan Conner (John Goodman), but the Conner girls, Becky (Lecy Goranson) and Darlene (Sara Gilbert).
Goranson, especially, has had the chance to really dig into her character more than ever before, and it's not only because of the pregnancy storyline fans were surprised with as The Conners found its premiere season groove. As much of a party girl as she can be, there's more of a depth to Becky than we were privy to in Roseanne's 10th season, and these new storylines are really to Goranson's advantage. It's not easy to find more stories to tell nearly 30 years after a character's debut, but The Conners writers have done just that.
Ahead of Tuesday's return, ET chatted with the 44-year-old actress about Becky's pregnancy, life without Roseanne Barr and where she hopes the Conner family goes from here.
ET: In the mid-season finale, we got one of the best insights into Darlene and Becky's relationship as adults. What did you think when you first saw the script?
Lecy Goranson: It was an interesting way of explaining in a more in-depth way what has been happening with Becky so far this season and all those, kind of, missing years that are unspoken that are a part of The Conners. That was kind of touched upon last year, but I think what was most poignant about it was that Becky admitted that she really needs Darlene and her family. Part of all of the Conners is a resilience and also an independence, so the idea that they really need one another is a challenge. For both Becky and Darlene to be in a scene and have to confront that about themselves when they're so used to being snarky at one another is really tough. With all siblings, it's 'you're being selfish' or 'you're the one that gets more attention,' that kind of back and forth, but the underlying stuff is a lot deeper. It's about pain, it's about needs and that's been a throughline this season, too -- Becky and Darlene really grappling to admit that they may even like each other let alone need each other.
It's been so interesting to watch you guys navigate this season as The Conners, because it feels like the same show but also a brand new one. What does it feel like for you?
It definitely feels both the same and new, and that's part of what's really exciting about it. These characters keep evolving and moving through their lives. It's creatively thrilling, and then there's just very little time to navigate through what you have to do with the script each week, so there's just so much focus and thought on it. But, yeah, it does feel like a different show, also because we have so many new cast members and the kids -- that makes it very different.
Have you gotten used to Roseanne not being a part of the new show?
It's definitely weird still, but part of it is more of a discovery. There's more room to get into all the relationships, whether it's father-daughter or daughter-aunt or sisters. It really feels like an ensemble in a way that maybe is more equal without having that star presence at the center, so it's a lot more for all of us, but the weight is also evenly distributed. It's such a great cast, and the writing's so great. It's still equally as challenging and everyone's so very invested in making it great. We still, of course, have Roseanne in our hearts and minds, and when she comes up in the script or in the scenes, it's as painful for us. It feels like a death.
At the time of the premiere, you hadn't heard from Roseanne. Has anyone heard since?
No, not to my knowledge. And we understand [her perspective]. I don't know how I would feel if I were her in this position. I imagine it would be extremely difficult.
How did you feel about Becky's big pregnancy reveal?
At first, it was exciting and fun and really interesting in terms of Roseanne's death and there being this idea of life moving forward, which is really beautiful, and then I had another thought: Was it somewhat irresponsible to put out in the universe that someone in their forties could get pregnant as a miracle when there are so many women that are really struggling with their fertility at that age? I did definitely take that into account, but I also think that life happens and it's an opportunity for Becky to be honest with herself. That's what she's been saying: 'Dad, I don't know if I can stop drinking,' and 'Darlene, I'm a drunk and I want to do this, how do I do this? I'm vulnerable and part of me feels like I can't do it.' But, again, I think that's what a lot of people feel. Being a parent is probably the biggest thing you can do as a person, and when you're not feeling like your life is together, that's pretty hardcore, but I've talked to a lot of single mothers who've approached me and said 'Becky reminds me of myself. I was in that position. My boyfriend wasn't there, I didn't have anyone, I really had to get it together.' So, it's just another way that Becky really has to toughen up.
How do you think the other characters will step up now that Roseanne isn't in the picture to help Becky navigate motherhood?
That's a good question, I don't know. I imagine that they will. In a twisted way, Darlene is her closest ally, so she'll have to turn to her a lot.
I feel like I know Becky better now than I did in Roseanne's original run. What is the most exciting part of this character for you to explore now?
There was a part of me thinking of Becky as almost like a female id. She's totally indulging, she's drinking, she's sleeping with a lot of guys. I'm in my mid-forties, but the idea of that is actually very exciting! [Laughs] Although it seems really indulgent, there's another side to that, now that she's pregnant and grappling with how she's gotten to where she's come, I think that's something that at my age that everyone feels. Like, how did I get here? What am I even doing? It's a really kind of average thing to feel and think about when you're in your forties and just see where you want your life's directive to go and how you've changed. It's funny because as much as Becky's directive is changing because she realizes she's been stuck because Mark has died and she's pregnant and realizing, 'Hey, I've got to kind of get it together,' there is still kind of this id in her that's present in how she approaches life, which is as her authentic self. I think her sense of humor is really interesting. Even playing her, I think she just has this really unusual sense of humor that's both really really dry and complicated.
The mid-season finale made that point perfectly, because Ben calls her a lunatic and Becky has a huge grin on her face when he says it. Especially with Harris and the cop, it feels like foreshadowing to her asking herself, how do I still be the cool aunt with this huge responsibility in front of me of becoming a mom?
Right, while also feeling really vulnerable in feeling like she's not competent. I've talked to a lot of my friends, a lot are really successful in their careers, and I'll talk to the cast on the show, and it's like, how can you be doing something -- for us, we've been doing TV for 30 years, on and off -- and still feel like it's the first day of school and have those moments of terror? I have a friend who's a professor and she says, 'I've had tenure, I've been doing this for 20 years, and I'm still totally afraid.' And that's a really interesting thing that Becky goes through -- she knows she has experience and here she is in that episode imparting it to Harris, yet when Darlene says, 'Oh, you want to [end up] like your Aunt Becky?,' it just breaks her.
Who wouldn't it break?
I know. One thing that you get to see is that Becky really wants to do the right thing. It's not just about being cool. She loves Harris and Mark [Darlene's two kids], but as an adult, you've got to make your own decisions, and that's what she says to Darlene in that pool table scene: 'Look, I didn't tell her to drink. I told her whatever, but, it's her own trying to protect Harris.' You get that Becky would do that and she would want to impart some kind of wisdom to Harris but also protect her.
Where do you hope The Conners go not only in the second half of this year but looking forward to next season?
This year is technically a first season of The Conners, which is so bizarre still. I start to say Roseanne sometimes, and go, 'Ohmygosh, I can't say that.' But I hope that there continues to be big leaps in the characters and their relationships continue to grow and that they kind of surprise themselves. That's what's so exciting for me when I read a script, that the characters say, 'Oh, I've learned something about myself,' or 'I've learned something about another character.' I also hope that everyone gets a job. I'm not saying I hope they win the lottery, because that didn't work out [on the original Roseanne], but I hope everyone gets a job. Everyone's had some relationship difficulties, but maybe in that department, there can be improvement, too!
We saw Sarah Chalke return again briefly in The Conners. Any more guests you're looking forward to having on?
I love Martin Mull. I know he's working a lot right now, but I would love to see him again because he's my buddy. Estelle Parsons is always wonderful. She's my friend in New York, and I always love having her around because she's so incredibly talented.
You're East Coast-based, and John Goodman lives down in New Orleans. Is it like a big reunion whenever you get back on set?
I kind of had this double life as a kid too because I spent half my time in Chicago. Actually, I was here more than half during my high school years, but yeah, a lot of the crew, we've been together 30 years, too. It's making new art and also sharing so many memories. I's kind of like the best of everything.