NEW YORK — While Fred Savage has lived in Los Angeles since he was a kid, the actor still considers the Chicago area his true home base — at least when it comes to sports loyalties and Midwestern values.
“Remember, both my wife and I are from Chicago and we do really miss it,” says the former “Wonder Years” star, whose new series “Friends From College” premieres Friday on Netflix. “We go back as often as we can to see family and friends — mostly on the North Shore, where we’re from around Glencoe. But my wife Jennifer and I do get back down in the city and love just walking around.
“While we’ve lived in L.A. for a long time, it’s very important to us to instill in our children a sense of that Chicago spirit — and we keep it alive in our house all the time. What an emotional moment that whole World Series thing was last year! We were actually watching the [Cubs] Series while we were shooting ‘Friends From College.’
“Not only was I from Chicago, our cinematographer and his wife were from Chicago! [Series creator] Nick [Stoller] was so very patient. … We had a dinner table scene, and we all were on our phones, under the table — even the actors who had NO Chicago connection! We were really trying to pay attention to the scene we were shooting, but also following that final game. It was so nerve-wracking!”
On “Friends From College,” Savage co-stars with Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders and Annie Parisse as friends nearing their 40s with a Harvard past in common. He noted that despite the show’s Ivy League slant, “you don’t have to have gone to Harvard or Yale or one of those other Ivy League schools to relate to the characters in this series. I think a lot of people have groups of friends who keep in touch with an idealized period that still exists in our minds. Those moments from our past that were great but often can hold us back from maturing the way we should. Some folks just never can get past college or even high school — thinking those were the best years of their lives.”
Savage relates to those themes. “Every time you’re with those friends, it’s like a little time capsule. For me, when I’m back in Glencoe or Chicago and see some friends from when I was a kid — obviously much younger than college — I get kind of silly and we reminisce about our childhood. Of course, I also have a bunch of friends in L.A. who are from Chicago, so that also provides a certain kind of bond, which usually involves Chicago sports teams — especially the Cubs!”