The ABC comedy that follows the Huang family in 1990s Orlando, Florida, would ring true in any decade.
One of the best — and most authentic — aspects of Fresh Off the Boat is the bond between Eddie (Hudson Yang) and his friends as they steer through school, family, romance and friendship. The actors — who attend school together on set — also socialize in off-hours: they go to each other's birthday parties and spend time at each other's homes; they even went to Disneyland together.
With the show now in season five — and a syndication deal in place — the guys chatted with Amy Amatangelo about their lives inside and outside the studio.
HUDSON YANG, who plays oldest son Eddie Huang, initially auditioned for middle brother Emery. But the real-life Eddie Huang told Yang he should audition to play him.
"It was probably the most right-place, right-timing ever," the actor says. Over the past year, Yang has shot up a foot and now stands six feet tall. "I'm taller than everyone on set," he declares, laughing. Starting next year, he'll have a multi-episode arc as the voice of Baliyo on Disney Junior's animated hit The Lion Guard.
On his costars: "We have an amazing connection off set. We're always running around making jokes, kind of rough-housing a little bit. All of our characters are so similar to our real selves."
What he's learned about the '90s: "It's hilarious how much we've learned," he says. The outdated technology, like fax machines, remains the most mysterious. "I used to call Walkmans 'walker mans.'"
When he's not acting, you'll find him: Fishing. "Fishing is one of my biggest hobbies. I've just been diving into it. The biggest fish I ever caught was a four-foot yellowtail. Recently the biggest fish I caught was a 24-inch halibut off the coast of Malibu."
TREVOR LARCOM originally landed a role in another pilot from executive producer–showrunner Nahnatchka Khan. When that show didn't get ordered to series, Khan brought Larcom over to play Eddie's pal Trent. Now he's done more than 50 episodes of the series. "It's really amazing how far we've come with Fresh Off the Boat," he says.
Larcom, who also has a recurring role on the TV Land comedy Teachers, launched his career with commercials.
On his costars: "We're friends in real life, so it's pretty easy to be friends on the show."
What he's learned about the '90s: "I have older brothers and sisters, and they all grew up in that era. They'll watch the show and laugh, saying they remember all the things on the show. And I've never heard of these things."
When he's not acting, you'll find him: Golfing. His older brother introduced him to the sport, and his best score is an 81. He's hoping one day Trent will get to golf.
PROPHET BOLDEN also auditioned for Khan's other series. She remembered him and invited him to play Eddie's friend Walter. "I just love to entertain people," Bolden says. "I wanted to be able to entertain people on a national level and reach people in different places."
On his costars: "They all came to my birthday party. We love each other so much. We all just naturally bonded."
What he's learned about the '90s: "Doing this show, I fell in love with a whole new type of music and culture. There is different music on the show. I have to know about it so when I say the line, I'm not totally confused."
When he's not acting, you'll find him: On the football field and basketball court. "I'm an athlete, so I've just been training, training, training. I play on a school team and a travel team. As a high-school athlete, I know that soon I'll have to choose what sport I'm going to take into my college career. Right now, I have no idea if it's going to be football or basketball."
DASH WILLIAMS appeared in only two episodes in the show's first season, but his Brian has been a regular member of Eddie's crew ever since.
Williams sprained his wrist on a school ice-skating trip the day before shooting his first episode. "I couldn't open any doors or anything, but I still shot the episode," he reports.
On his costars: "I think we got lucky in that we all really like each other a lot. We talk while they're setting up [the shots]. And they just keep the cameras rolling, and we have the same dynamic — except it's words that other people wrote for us."
What he's learned about the '90s: "Most things I didn't know about. There was one episode where we had the really big jeans, which was a thing apparently for a little bit. It was kind of weird to see that there were fads that nobody really talks about anymore."
When he's not acting, you'll find him: Doing stand-up. Williams had his first show at L.A.'s Comedy Playground last May. "The delivery isn't that far off from acting in general. It's a little more real and grounded, because it's things that I wrote — and it's actually my point of view."
EVAN HANNEMANN got the part of Dave in the show's pilot… but then Dave was written out. Happily, the producers liked him so much that they brought Dave back when the show was picked up to series.
Hannemann was doing local musical theater when he connected with a casting director and auditioned for the Showtime series House of Lies. "The entire process was so much fun," he says. "I said to my mom: 'This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.'"
On his costars: "We live all over L.A., so it's hard for us to connect, but we do. We have a blast when we hang out together."
What he's learned about the '90s: "We have people on set to explain the jokes to us. I love that it was a lot like how I was as a kid, but everybody was just more of a kid. I definitely would have been into pogs, cartoons, video games, Nintendo 64. I would have been all over that."
When he's not acting, you'll find him: Directing. This past summer he directed his own short film while attending a "make-a-movie" camp. Of course, he has an extra edge: "I've learned a lot by talking to the writers, directors and producers on Fresh Off the Boat. It's so nice to have people I can talk to in the industry."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 11, 2018