If the Salinger family’s bond seemed real to "Party of Five" viewers, that’s because it was for the actors.
When Scott Wolf, who played second-oldest sibling Bailey on the '90s drama, stopped by TODAY recently, we asked him to reminisce about how the TV clan came to be.
“I went in, and they tell this story that I didn't know at the time, but I was the very first person to audition for Bailey, which is kind of bananas," Wolf, 49, said. "And at the end of the process, it was Chris (Keyser) and Amy (Lippman), our executive producers and creators, and Matthew (Fox), Neve (Campbell), myself and Lacey (Chabert). We all stood in this little circle — it's so crazy that it makes me emotional all these years later."
"Amy said, 'Congratulations, you're the Salingers,'" he continued. "We all looked around at each other, and it was this moment I’ve never had before or since, where it was just like, yeah, we are. Like we had been it for our whole lives. It just felt like a real family from day one."
According to Wolf, the most difficult scenes to shoot were those involving conflict among the five siblings, who'd been forced to fend for themselves after the untimely death of their parents. One standout storyline followed Bailey's struggle with alcoholism and the family's efforts to help their brother.
“To really commit to these stories, where we're just not on each other's team in a given moment were probably the most challenging scenes. You know, the intervention episode and really all of season 3, where Bailey starts to pull himself away from the family. And really still to this day, it's just emotional going back and watching some of those scenes.”
So, would Wolf ever do a reboot of the tear-jerking series?
"I have nothing but love for all things 'Party of Five,'" he said. “I had such an amazing experience making it, and I still love all the people we made it with. But it feels like when we finished, the story had been told, really. And we set out to tell a story about whether this family would survive the loss of their parents or not. And in the end, they really did and there’s a lot of life for them left to live, but once that basic premise was fulfilled we all felt like it was time to leave the show.”
Wolf understands why “Party of Five” resonated so much with fans, and still does two decades later.
"I think the show always made people think and feel," he said. "I think our audience felt like they were visiting for an hour a week with the Salinger family. It never felt to us like we were a bunch of actors pretending to be family. We really felt like family and that carried in front of the camera."
In fact, it's now been discovered by a new generation of viewers on Netflix.
"They seem to be having the same reaction, and so it's a huge credit to how honest the writing was and the storytelling was," Wolf said. "And other than the hair and the rugby shirts, it seems pretty current."
We also asked Wolf to open up about his co-stars — here's what he had to say.
“I love Matthew, my big brother. We were really partners in crime, and to be on a really successful show and especially with the kind of crazy, rabid response it got at certain times, to have someone next to me who was as committed to the honesty of the work we were trying to do together was a lifesaver.”
“At 11 years old, she taught the rest of us how to act. She was the most prodigiously talented person, and I love her to bits.”
Jennifer Love Hewitt
“She was an incredible addition to the show. The relationship between Sarah and Bailey was one of the most special parts of that show and I think has endured for a lot of the fans of the show, as one of their favorite memories from it.”
“Boy, she was super broody in this picture. I just was with her a couple nights ago and she’s like a sister to me more than a friend. She’s also, like, the sweetest, goofiest person off camera, so we just had the greatest time ever making the show, and ... OK, I’ll do a reboot!”
You can catch Scott Wolf these days on NBC’s "The Night Shift."