'The Conners' Star Michael Fishman Says It Was 'Heartbreaking' When 'Roseanne' Was Canceled (Exclusive)

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It's a big day for The Conners. 

The Roseanne spinoff is set to premiere Tuesday night, the same week the original show debuted 30 years ago. The highly anticipated series is taking a big leap in continuing without its star, Roseanne Barr, but according to Michael Fishman, the new show will feel familiar to fans. 

ET sat down with Fishman, who plays DJ Conner, and his TV wife, Maya Lynne Robinson, who plays Geena Williams-Conner, on Tuesday, as they dished on how the new series rose from Roseanne's cancellation.  

"It's an interesting roller coaster," Fishman confesses. "We come back and everything is kind of like a dream, and then it ends kind of in this weird, strange nightmare, and then you kind of have to figure out how to piece that back together."

"It was really heartbreaking over the summer, and painful for everybody, and then this third kind of opportunity is this really magical thing that has come with some really wonderful new features and new opportunities that I think are really going to be great for fans," he adds.

In May, a racist tweet by Barr about Barack Obama's former White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, got her fired by ABC and the show canceled. It didn't take long for rumors to spark of a Roseanne spinoff without Barr. By late June, the comedian had relinquished her rights to the series, and The Conners was picked up for 10 episodes by ABC. 

"I think you're never totally ready for what is going to happen," Fishman says of how The Conners will move on without Roseanne. "I think every episode on our show is there, is always something big going on, but at the same time, it's very rigid in family. It's really rooted in being authentic and being connected." 

"I think what fans really should be looking forward to, not just tonight, but throughout this whole season is this growing, this transition that's happening," he adds. 

Part of this new chapter includes Robinson, who is taking over the role of DJ's wife from Xosha Roquemore. The actress confessed that the scandal didn't affect her the same way, since she joined The Conners after it had been picked up. But she's looking forward to continuing the story in her own way. 

"It is a great dynamic. It really is a fun dynamic, and I think that fans are really gonna kind of resonate [with it]," she shares of her character's relationship with DJ. "It's interesting that with the backstory and the history from the show that we're able to really cover new ground."

As for the rest of the cast, Fishman said that fans can expect to see other characters in a new light as well. 

"I think what people are going to see, starting with Laurie Metcalf, John Goodman and Sara Gilbert, everyone steps into these kind of new roles, because when a family member is not there, there is a big void that you have to fill," he expresses. 

The Conners premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See more in the video below. 

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