'The Wonder Years': Lee Daniels Shares First Look at New Cast

The Wonder Years 2021
ABC/Lee Daniels

Elisha “EJ” Williams plays Dean, the central character of the Williams family, in the ABC reboot.

The Wonder Years is getting the reboot treatment at ABC, and filmmaker Lee Daniels has shared the first look at the new cast. The upcoming series, which received a pilot order from the network, will star Elisha “EJ” Williams as Dean Williams, taking over for Fred Savage, who played the central character, Kevin Arnold, in the original run.

Rounding out the rest of the Williams family is Dulé Hill as Bill, the patriarch who is a music professor by day and a funk musician by night, Saycon Sengbloh as his perceptive and good-humored wife, Lillian, with Laura Kariuki as Kim, Dean’s confident and popular teenage sister. 

The new version written by comedy and TV veteran Saladin K. Patterson will focus on this middle-class family living in Montgomery, Alabama, during the 1960s as Dean is trying to figure out his place at home and the world at large. Described by ABC as “a little insecure, a tad awkward and a bit self-conscious, he is determined to make his mark on the world around him.”

Like the original, Dean will have a special love interest, with Milan Ray playing Keisa Clemmons. Upon the casting announcement, Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper, told the young star, “You are already far more seasoned an actress than I was when I joined the cast of The Wonder Years many moons ago. From what I've seen of your work and from what I read in the script, you're gonna knock it out of the park!! Go get 'em, girl!”

Additionally, Don Cheadle will serve as the narrator, aka “Adult Dean,” who reflects back on his younger years as he embarks on the next stage of his life as a new grandfather, while Julian Lerner and Amari O’Neil have been added as Dean’s childhood friends.

Speaking with ET about his many projects, Daniels revealed that he was “really excited about” the cast they were pulling together. “I’m nervous about that one,” he also admitted, despite the positive attention surrounding the reboot. 

The original series, starring Savage, McKellar, Josh Saviano, Jason Hervey, Dan Lauria, Alley Mills and Olivia d'Abo, aired on ABC from 1988 to 1993. Savage is set to direct the pilot and executive produce the new project, along with Daniels, Patterson and Marc Velez, with original series co-creator Neal Marlens as a consultant.