By Michael Arbeiter, Hollywood.com Staff
The '90s were a time of loud music, louder clothing, and some of the greatest television shows that the world has witnessed to date. Many a pop culture aficionado spent the last decade of the 20th Century obsessing over his or her favorite small screen stars. Some opted for the Saved by the Bell gang. Some chose the Boy Meets World kids. And some still preferred the zany children of Tim ""The Tool Man"" Taylor on the ABC hit, Home Improvement especially the oldest Taylor son, played by Zachery Ty Bryan, who is currently producing the movies Rogue River and The Grief Tourist via his production company, the Vision Entertainment Group.
Hollywood.com got a chance to speak with actor-turned-producer Bryan, and to learn a bit about his perspective on the Home Improvement days. ""One of my favorite [episodes] was the one where I got caught smoking marijuana by my parents,"" Bryan, 30, tells us. ""I thought that was a really, really good episode because I think it's something that all families go through.""
""I know that it's taboo to talk about drugs, but I thought that it was pretty bold of the producers ... especially on a comedic series, to do a serious episode about a teenager experimenting with marijuana,"" Bryan continues. ""I also like the one where Jonathan [Taylor Thomas] possibly had cancer.""
Speaking of costar Jonathan Taylor Thomas, fans might be pleased to know that the Thomas and Bryan try to stay in contact regularly. ""I mainly stay in touch with Jonathan,"" Bryan admits. ""He was going to Columbia University, he finally graduated. He's back out here in LA, and I think he's pursuing directing... We'll go out, hang out for an evening, catch up. All that good stuff. He's doing really well."" Bryan adds, ""I also keep in touch with Taran [Noah Smith] via Facebook. I keep in touch with both, but I see Jonathan every month or two.""
And it's not like his former onscreen father is left out of the picture. ""Tim Allen was just in my office a week and a half ago,"" Bryan says. ""We were talking about all of the projects we're doing, and that he's involved with. I talk to Tim all the time as well.""
Next: A Home Improvement reunion? And Zachery Ty Bryan's Producing Career Today
[PAGEBREAK] As close as the Taylors still are, there's no immediate plans to pursue a Home Improvement reunion. However, when asked if Bryan would be on board, the former TV star gives a resounding, ""Absolutely."" He continues, ""I remember Gayle Maffeo, one of our executive producers, was talking to me about [a reunion]. I don't think it has come to fruition yet.""
Although Bryan insists that he ""would definitely get in front of the camera"" for a reunion show, his work these days keeps him behind the scenes. ""I started Vision Entertainment Group in 2009,"" he shares. ""I started hunting down scripts. I found Prowl... I then brought my partner Adam Targum on board, who is also a writer/producer on CSI: NY.""
Vision's newest film is a horror-thriller titled Rogue River, which comes out June 5. ""Rogue River is kind of our first movie out of the gate,"" notes Bryan. ""I think it's going to catch on to a culty crowd. The storyline in general has been done before, but the way we kill people, some twists and turns are very original.""
Bryan also speaks highly of another developing project for Vision: a drama called The Grief Tourist. ""Melanie Griffith and Michael Cudlitz are the leads,"" says Bryan. ""[Cudlitz] gets two weeks off of work a year. For those two weeks, he chooses to go follow a serial killer, from when they were children, to basically learn how they became serial killers."" Bryan continues, ""It's basically just a really riveting character study about this guy. He finds his life paralleling with this serial killer. It's kind of his descent into madness.""
Next: Zachery Ty Bryan takes Hollywood.com's '90s Pop Culture Quiz!
[PAGEBREAK] In addition to discussing his professional history (and future), Bryan gracefully participated in a quiz, courtesy of Hollywood.com News Editor Lindsey DiMattina, about his favorite '90s pop culture phenomena, including TV shows, music, and even Pogs.
Lindsey DiMattina: If you had to choose between Lisa Turtle and Kelly Kapowski, who would you choose?
Zachery Ty Bryan: Can you explain who they are? [Laughs]
LD: Do you remember Saved by the Bell?
ZTB: Oh, Kelly was which one was she? Thiessen? Tiffani Amber?
LD: She was the cute, really pretty one. Lisa was the very fashion-savvy one.
ZTB: I know some of their real names. Was Tiffani Amber Thiessen one?
LD: Yes, that's Kelly.
ZTB: That's Kelly. Who is the other one?
LD: We'll just skip this question. Do you remember the shows Guts and Double Dare?
ZTB: Yeah, I was on Double Dare. I did Celebrity Double Dare. I'll take Double Dare all day long.
LD: Can you share a little funny fact about that that would make you choose that?
ZTB: The best part about it, being a kid, was watching somebody get slimed.
LD: It was awesome, right?
LD: If you had to choose between Beanie Babies and Tamagotchi, which one were you more a fan of?
ZTB: I don't know who these are. You've got to explain. Sorry.
LD: Beanie Babies the little toys that people collected.
ZTB: Oh, Beanie Babies! What was the other one?
LD: Tamagotchi. Those are the little rings that you held and you raised people.
ZTB: You know what? That was after my time. I remember, my younger sister was into Beanie Babies. I think when Beanie Babies came out, I was 13 or 14. I don't think I was into either of those.
LD: What about slap bracelets or mood rings? Were you into either of those?
ZTB: I remember getting into slap bracelets for a minute, yeah. [Laughs] I do.
LD: I'm trying to take you back. I'm taking myself back.
ZTB: I had a lime green, neon blue, and pink one, I remember.
LD: They were so much fun.
ZTB: They were fun.
LD: Do you remember sticky hands and Pogs? If you had to choose between sticky hands and Pogs, which would it be?
ZTB: Sticky hands, for sure. Just because they were more fun. I never really got into any of those Pogs were the things where you flip them, right? And you got to keep them?
ZTB: Yeah. I never really got into those. Sticky hands I would say, for sure. It would be something to just doodle around with throughout your day.
LD: You said you had a sister. Is that something you used to throw at your sister? That's what my brother used to do to me.
ZTB: I'm sure I did, yeah. [Laughs]
LD: Another thing about the '90s was the different bands of the era. Were you a fan of either Backstreet Boys or 'N Sync, possibly?
ZTB: I wasn't really, but I did have a girlfriend at the time who would have taken 'N Sync hands down.
LD: So you're going to go with 'N Sync because of that?
ZTB: Plus, I've met Justin [Timberlake] a few times. I've met a few of those guys. Lance [Bass], a few times. I never really met too many of the Backstreet Boys, so I guess I would say I would know some of the 'N Sync guys better.
LD: Do you remember the movies Titanic and Armageddon?
LD: Which one would you go with? And why?
ZTB: Can I have two answers?
ZTB: I'd go with my buddy to Armageddon, but I'd take a girl to Titanic.
LD: Oh my gosh. Did you like one over the other, though?
ZTB: I would say, probably Armageddon.
LD: Just because it was more of a man's movie?
ZTB: Yeah. More action-packed. I would say Armageddon. And I was really into Aerosmith during that movie, so that song really caught me. Celine Dion on the other hand, they're both I say it would depend on who my company was to that movie. [Laughs]
LD: Now, Power Rangers. Who was your favorite Power Ranger? Which color?
ZTB: I never got into that. I was older than that. I remember, I used to do a lot of personal appearances, like signings, at malls. I remember, I would sign with a lot of the Power Rangers at the time. So, I never really got into the show, but I would say, probably, because my favorite color is blue, the Blue Ranger. I don't know.
LD: Were you into Nirvana or Pearl Jam, possibly?
ZTB: Now we're talking. Yeah.
LD: Which one would you choose over the other?
ZTB: Pearl Jam.
ZTB: It wasn't as hard-core. I felt that the lyrical content was a little more they expressed a lot more in their music. Where I felt like Nirvana was kind of just angry a lot. But Pearl Jam, "Jeremy," and one of my favorites was "Black." I love Pearl Jam.
LD: Were you into skateboards or rollerblades?
ZTB: I was into both, but I would say I was probably more into rollerblades, because I was into roller hockey. I lived two blocks from my elementary school. We used to go we'd take the basketball court, and throw up two nets. Hockey nets. And we'd play roller hockey on the court.
LD: What about Ren & Stimpy or Beavis & Butthead?
ZTB: I never really watched Ren & Stimpy, but I did enjoy Beavis & Butthead. And I've actually been enjoying it a little bit lately since they came back. For the nostalgia, I would say. I got into those guys. They were pretty funny to me. It was rebellious, you know? My parents didn't want me watching it, so that's why I did.
LD: What about Jurassic Park or Independence Day?
ZTB: I would probably say Independence Day, because I always liked Will Smith.
LD: Men in Black III just came out. It's good timing to say that.
ZTB: Yeah. I did an episode of Fresh Prince, too. I got to meet him. He did Enemy of the State, that I loved. I was a big, big fan of his at that time. He did every you name the big movie, and he was doing it.
LD: Did you ever drink Crystal Pepsi or Surge?
ZTB: I had Crystal Pepsi. What was Surge?
LD: Surge? I think it was the green stuff.
ZTB: Interesting. Crystal Pepsi was the clear Pepsi, right? I had that. I used to drink that sometimes. What I was way more into was Jolt. What else was there? RC Cola, I liked a lot. I used to like Jolt because it had double the caffeine, and you thought you were so cool for drinking it.
LD: Were you ever into Alanis Morissette or Meredith Brooks?
ZTB: Yeah. I'll never forget, I was filming a movie in Vancouver, Canada, with Kirsten Dunst. We played brother and sister. And Kirsten and I went to an Alanis Morissette concert together up there.
LD: So you'd pick her over Meredith Brooks?
ZTB: Yes. By far.
LD: She's awesome. All of her songs were so amazing back in the day.
ZTB: She was really great.
LD: What about Marcy Playground or Chumbawumba?
ZTB: Never got into either. I don't know. Sorry.
LD: We've kind of seen your hairstyles, but if you had to choose between the mullet and the rat tail, which one would you choose? I know you had both.
ZTB: Mullet hands down.
ZTB: Yeah. I don't know. I had it for a long time. I almost feel like I was one of the originators of it. I remember at the time, this family that I knew would always kind of give me flack because I was on the cover of CelebrityMullet.com, or something. I was, like, on their homepage. [Laughs] Anyway, I would say mullet, just because I had it for a very long time. But at the time, it was very cool, Lindsey. Very cool.
LD: Do you remember She's All That and the movie Clueless?
ZTB: I would say She's All That, only because I know Rachael Leigh Cook. Clueless I never really watched Clueless. I remember, all the girls loved Clueless, though. I think She's All That had an appeal to both boys and girls, where Clueless was mainly just girls.
LD: What about Legends of the Hidden Temple or What Would You Do? Do you remember those? They were Nickelodeon shows.
ZTB: I don't. Sorry.
LD: Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place?
ZTB: That would be a good question for my wife. I never watched either. I was working so much. And as soon as I was done with work, I'd play soccer, and baseball, and basketball. I never watched much TV.
LD: Based on the shows you did watch, was there one that you wish you'd been on instead of Home Improvement, or that you could have done at the same time?
ZTB: My favorite show when I was really young, even before Home Improvement that really got me into wanting to become an actor at the time was The Wonder Years.
Good choice, Bryan. The '90s brought a lot of different things to a lot of different people, both onscreen and off. They gave Zachery Ty Bryan his big break, and American audiences genuinely good family entertainment. What is your favorite piece of '90s nostalgia?
Zachery Ty Bryan on 'Home Improvement'
Reporting by Lindsey DiMattina
[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]
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