The now 44-year-old actress has returned for the modernized reboot on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.
Frye spoke to Fox News about reprising the character, now in adulthood, and reflected on starting out in her acting career as a child.
“We had so much fun and always played make-believe,” she recalled of working on the original ’80s show. “[The kids on set] were on pogo sticks and scooters and running wild having so much fun.”
“The fact that the team on ‘Punky’ really allowed us to still be kids and made sure that we had that time to be children… we weren’t just going to set and working every day,” Frye said. “We were playing make-believe and I think that was so important. And so in doing the reboot, to be able to see these amazing kids still being kids was so inspiring.”
Frye said the reboot has “really tried to stay true to the authenticity of the original and to share stories that are important” and hopes the show can spur important conversations among family members.
“So many of the things that Punky is going through [others can relate to],” she explained. In the reboot, older Punky is a single mother of three trying to get her life back on track after splitting with her ex — played by Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Punky also meets a young girl in the foster system who reminds Punky a lot of her younger self and takes her in.
Frye and her husband Jason Goldberg split after 22 years of marriage. The former pair are parents to four children.
“We’re talking about the real things that are going on in our house,” Frye said of the themes. “So hopefully other people will feel the same.”
Cherie Johnson, who returns as Punky’s best friend Cherie, told Fox News, “You look at our cast and there’s somebody in there who you can relate to. There’s somebody in there that reminds you of yourself. So it’s the show that starts conversations and it’s always been a show to educate, and through comedy, I believe it’s the best way to reach children.”
Meanwhile, Prinze, Jr. said he came out of retirement for his role as Travis.
“I didn’t even announce [it],” he told Fox News. “That was always weird to me when actors are like you will not see me anymore. I wanted to be a dad. I didn’t have one growing up and once my daughter was born, that was a wrap for me, and nothing filmed in L.A. so I figured it’d be a wrap forever. Then ‘Punky’ just kind of kismet style fell in my lap.”
“Punky Brewster” is available to stream on Peacock.
FOX’s Liza Aristizabal contributed to this report.