Roseanne is welcoming back a friend of the family. Twenty years after Roseanne Barr’s ABC comedy series signed off, James Pickens Jr. will make a return for two episodes of the show’s upcoming nine-episode revival, according to TV Line. Pickens is best known as former chief of surgery Richard Webber on Grey’s Anatomy, but 15 years before that he played Dan Conner’s friend and poker buddy, Chuck Mitchell, on Roseanne.
Pickens’ IMDB page reveals that he appeared in 19 episodes of the original Roseanne series, from 1990 to 1996. Some of the episodes the recurring character turned up in include “Scenes from a Barbecue” (1991), “Honor Thy Mother” (1996), and several of Roseanne’s iconic Halloween episodes, including “Trick or Treat” (1990) and “Halloween IV” (1992).
In the original series, the Chuck character was sometimes referred to as “Chuckie” and he worked with Dan Conner at his garage. Chuck was married to Anne-Marie (Adilah Barnes), who also happened to be a longtime friend of Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) and her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf). While most of Pickens’ Roseanne scenes were lighthearted and often set at a poker table, in the Season 7 episode “White Men Can’t Kiss” the episode took a more serious tone when addressing racial issues. In the episode, Chuck became offended when Dan asked his opinion on his son DJ’s (Michael Fishman) refusal to kiss a black classmate in a school play.
In an interview on NBC’s Today Show, Roseanne star Michael Fishman said he enjoyed working with Pickens on the ABC sitcom.
“James was on Roseanne so much over the years,” Fishman said.
“He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever worked with. When Grey’s Anatomy first started I was so proud for him. Finally, the rest of the world was getting see this amazing actor I’d respected for so many years. He was on my list of underrated and under-appreciated talents.”
Fishman also praised Pickens for his work on the racially motivated scenes on Roseanne.
“His character always seemed to be asked by Dan for his perspective at the most awkward but truthful and impactful times. I don’t think we could’ve done many of those episodes without his strength, timing, and talent,” the Roseanne star said.
During its nine-season run, Roseanne featured many recurring characters, including Roseanne’s waitress friend Nancy (played by Sandra Bernhard) and Wellman Plastics supervisor Booker Brooks (played by George Clooney). There is no word yet on the return of any other recurring stars, but anything is possible with Roseanne.
James Pickens Jr. has kept busy since his 1996 exit from Roseanne. In addition to roles on NYPD Blue and The X-Files, the actor has starred on Grey’s Anatomy since 2005 and is one of the few original cast members who hasn’t been written out or killed off of the series in its 14 seasons.
You can see James Pickens Jr. in this Roseanne poker scene here or in this classic group scene from the 1991 Roseanne episode “Scenes from a Barbecue” below.
[Featured Image by ABC]