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FULL HOUSE: SAGET IS THE SHOW’S RICHIE CUNNINGHAM

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When the cameras are turned off on the set of ABC's "Full House," Bob Saget and the other actors sometimes pretend they're doing other shows.

"We kid that I'm Richie Cunningham and we're doing `Happy Days,"' says Saget. "David Coulier is Ralph and Potsie and John Stamos is the Fonz. Or we kid that we're doing `Charlie's Angels.' John is Jaclyn Smith, David is Farrah Fawcett and I'm Kate Jackson. It's just a way to have fun.""`Full House' is about six people living in one house and loving each other. The three guys and my three daughters," Saget says. "We really do care for each other. Usually people in a show love each other because they get paid."

Saget stars as Danny, a San Francisco TV talk show host and widower with three daughters who asks his brother-in-law and a friend to move in and help him run the household. Stamos is Uncle Jesse, a former musician who now writes advertising jingles. Coulier is Joey, a stand-up comedian. Together, they all fill the house with laughs.

The daughters are Candace Cameron, Jodie Sweetin and twins Mary Kate and Ashley Fuller Olsen (as baby Michelle).

"It took about 13 weeks for me and the writers to figure out who Danny is," Saget says. "It's the first time I've had an opportunity to develop a character. It took me longer to get a grip on my character than the other actors. I knew I wanted him to be neat and I knew I wanted him to hug a lot. Those were the external things.

"The internal thing is that there's an undercurrent of sadness because his wife died in an automobile accident only a year before. He really does need all this love in his life. The thing I like about him is that, like Rihie Cunningham, he's really a nice guy."

Saget had worked mostly as a stand-up comic prior to "Full House," although his training at Temple University and the University of Southern California was in filmmaking. A documentary he wrote, directed and edited, "Through Adam's Eyes," was honored at the Los Angeles Filmex.

Director Steven Spielberg asked him to send him his next film. "I did and it sat in his office for a year," Saget says. "It was awful and pretentious. A 22-year-old kid being cocky didn't go over. It was called `Beach Blanket Blintz.' Three hundred people showed up for a screening because their kids were in it. Everyone hated the film."

He was featured in the movie "Critical Condition" and was a guest star on various TV series. His work as a comic landed him appearances on "The Tonight Show," "The Merv Griffin Show," "HBO Young Comedians Special" and "Late Night With David Letterman."

In 1987, he became a regular on CBS' "Morning Program" with Mariette Hartley and Rolland Smith.

"I joined the Directors Guild, with CBS paying, and I did two comedy videos a week for `Morning Program,"' he says. "Then I found out how difficult it is to make two videos a week. The show wasn't on very long but I actually think it could have worked. I guess at that time people weren't ready for comedy that early in the morning. I think a time will come when you'll have comedy on TV like you have on the morning drive radio shows."

Saget was on the "Morning Program" when he was offered the role in "Full House."

"The people at the `Morning Program' wanted to get rid of me and I wanted to leave," he says. "I was out of work three weeks. The pilot was filmed with another actor as Danny, and I replaced him."

Saget, who is married and has a baby daughter, says he likes working with the girls on the show. "They're my pseudo-children," he says. "I'll do things with the girls that I know I'll be doing with my own daughter when she gets older."

While he likes working in a television comedy, he's also eager to do more films.

"The sitcom format is very easy," he says. "But you can't be natural. You have an audience while you film and your volume has to be up, your energy level has to be high. When I did `Critical Condition' I really felt at home."

Saget was born in Philadelphia but grew up in Norfolk, Va., and Southern California.

The family returned to Philadelphia just in time for him to graduate from high school, where he met his wife, Sherri.