Roseanne Barr’s recent Twitter tirade left all of her co-stars and crew without a TV series. But one of the most memorable guest stars on ABC’s now-canceled Roseanne reboot is feeling the pain in a different way. In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, actor Alain Washnevsky revealed he could not believe it when he heard about Roseanne’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett.
In a now-deleted tweet, the Roseanne star wrote of the former White Hosue advisor: “Muslim brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a child=vj.”
Washnevsky played the Conners’ Muslim neighbor, Samir Al-Harazi, in the buzzy seventh episode of the Roseanne reboot, titled “Go Cubs.” In his guest essay, the Iranian-born actor revealed that he is usually hesitant to make public statements, but in the case of Roseanne, he felt he had to.
The actor revealed that when he got the call to play Samir, the Conners’ “Muslim neighbor,” he felt an “enormous responsibility to represent a demographic that is often not well-portrayed on TV.” The Roseanne guest star revealed that he first met Barr at the table read for the episode and that she was extremely welcoming to him.
Washnevsky described his first meeting with the controversial comedian, saying she gave him a warm, genuine hug and told him, “Welcome aboard.” The actor added that he had the opportunity to hang out with Roseanne on the set of the show and that she asked him questions about his background.
— Matthew Belloni (@THRMattBelloni) June 5, 2018
“I got to know her as a funny, helpful and real person,” the actor wrote.
“When I read about her tweet, I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked, angry and hurt. Her words go against everything I believe in and everything that our episode represented. Or so I thought. I was extremely disappointed not only by her words, but also by the cancellation of the show which shined a light into many dark spots of our society — corners of society we don’t like to look at, see or talk about at parties. “
While Washnevsky feels deeply sorry for everyone on the Roseanne cast that lost their jobs, he admitted that the cancelation of the show hurt him as well.
“The showrunners had made optimistic statements about having our characters return for next season. Nothing would’ve made me happier,” he wrote.
Roseanne Barr was the driving force behind the Muslim-themed Roseanne episode. In a behind the scenes video about the “Go Cubs” episode posted by The Wrap, Roseanne Barr revealed she came up with the idea of her character being fearful of her Muslim neighbors because “she has heard so many things on the news, and so she has a lot of pre-conceived notions.”
“I just thought it would be really relevant for a show about immigrants and prejudice, so we find a way to cut to the humanity of each other,” the Roseanne star said. “I want people to laugh, that’s my main focus, is that it’s funny. And in the funny, it’s kind of heartwarming.”
You can see Alain Washnevsky in the “Go Cubs” episode of Roseanne below.