While The Wonder Years’ Winnie Cooper was everyone’s favorite neighbor, actress Danica McKellar definitely felt growing pains once the show wrapped.
“When I was a teenager, right after the show, I was super ready for everyone to let go of that character and move on. I wanted to move on in my life,” McKellar, 48, exclusively told Us Weekly earlier this month at 90s Con in Hartford, Connecticut. “But as I’ve gotten older now, I understand all the gifts that that character has given me and everyone else.”
She added: “I mean, the fact that people used to watch that show as a family and how beloved Winnie Cooper is, it really warms my heart.”
The Crown for Christmas actress rose to fame playing Winnie on The Wonder Years, which aired between 1988 and 1993, a role she landed when she was 13 years old. The ABC sitcom, a beloved family-friendly series, has since given McKellar “so many opportunities” as she’s grown up.
“I have this love of math and I’ve written over 11 books over the last 15 years. Parents know me [as] Winnie Cooper, so they trust me [with] their kids’ education,” she told Us in March. “So, I fully embrace [being typecast]. It was a short-lived time.”
While her Wonder Years days were fleeting, McKellar still fondly remembers working on set with costars including Fred Savage, who portrayed love interest and series lead Kevin Arnold.
“I mean, [with] Fred and everybody else in the cast and on set, we stay in touch but then we don’t,” she confessed to Us on the convention red carpet. “Our lives get busy and pulls us apart, but when we do see each other it’s like no time has passed.”
Growing up as a child star has also taught McKellar some important lessons now that she’s an adult.
“Oh gosh, [I’d tell myself to] just ‘keep the faith,’” she said of the one piece of advice she’d give her younger self. “‘Keep the faith because it’s going to be a roller-coaster up and down.’ And, ‘It all works out, just like everything else in life, it all works out.’”
The Math Doesn’t Suck author — who married husband Scott Sveslosky in 2014 — has since made her name in other franchises on the Hallmark Channel and Great American Family, respectively. While McKellar frequently praises her joyful romance movies, she cannot pick a particular favorite leading man who have joined her onscreen.
“I could never say that because I love them all and, like, I would love to work with them all again,” the Matchmaker Mysteries star jokingly told Us. “And there are people I haven’t worked with who I’d love to work with. If I name [one person,] then I’m not naming some others and I don’t want to do that.”
Sign up for Us Weekly's free, daily newsletter and never miss breaking news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
With reporting by Stephanie Webber
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!