Soleil Moon Frye – a.k.a. Punky Brewster – is back on prime time TV in another kid friendly show, ”Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” Not that Frye has been totally AWOL. Since her four years as America’s favorite freckly elementary schooler (1984- ‘88), she’s landed bit parts on shows like ”The Wonder Years,” ”Saved by the Bell,” and ”Friends” (on which she appeared last year as Joey’s punchy girlfriend). But this season, Frye, who’s now 24 but is still freckle faced, debuted on pal Melissa Joan Hart’s sitcom as Roxie, Sabrina’s perpetually sarcastic roommate. In honor of ”Sabrina”’s special 100th episode Friday night (8 p.m., the WB), EW.com caught up with Frye for a Q&A about her new gig and the role that made her famous.
How did you land ”Sabrina”?
Melissa and I have been friends for a long time, and she had told me about the part. I mean, how much more fun could it be than to act opposite a good friend?
Where did you guys meet, a child actors’ convention?
I know, right. Actually, we met when we were little kids and Ron Howard was doing a TV pilot called ”Little Shots.” We were both on the lot and we met. Then we just kept bumping into each other, and now it’s years later and we’re great friends.
Since Melissa is one of the show’s producers, what’s it like working for a friend?
We hang out during lunch, after work, basically all the time. Hey, if I’m with the boss, then I’m OK. I actually laugh about it when we’re away from the set, because I figure as long as I’m with Melissa, I can’t be in too much trouble.
Now that Sabrina’s in college, will there be any sexy story lines?
The writers are staying true to the family values the show’s always had. She’s more grown up, but you’re not going to see her partying, doing drugs, or anything like that. There’s not going to be a ”Very Special Episode” of Sabrina losing her virginity any time soon.
What’s the deal with Salem the cat? Is that a robot?
To be honest, I don’t want to break the illusion that Salem is a real talking cat, so I don’t let people tell me too much about how it all works. To me, it’s magic: He’s the one cat in the world who can really talk. But actually, there’s one real cat plus a team of special handlers who operate animatronic cats. Sorry if that breaks the spell for anyone.
What’s your favorite ”Punky Brewster” memento?
I still have a jacket Andy Gibb gave me. I had this huge crush on him, and I loved this black sequin jacket he wore on ”Solid Gold.” I was obsessed with him, and one day he made me close my eyes and wrapped me in the jacket. It’s one of my most treasured gifts.
Will ”Punky” ever be on Nick at Nite?
God, I hope so. That would be great, so another generation of kids could be ”Punky” fans. People keep asking me when it’s going to be on, but so far, Nickelodeon hasn’t contacted me.
Do you have any unlikely ”Punky” followers?
I know Joey of ‘N Sync has a couple of ”Punky” Tshirts. But the funniest is when a hardcore, tattooed rapper and his friends told me they were big fans. I won’t say who, but he was like, ”Yo, you’re Punky.” True.