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PICTURES: Freaks and Geeks Cast Reunites After 12 Years!

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Front row: Jason Schwartzman, Natasha Melnick, John Francis Daley, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Busy Philipps, Sarah Hagan, Stephen Lea Sheppard, and Samaire Armstrong. Back row: Lizzy Caplan, Becky Ann Baker, Joe Flaherty, David Krumholtz, Samm Levine, Martin Starr, Seth Rogen, Dave “Gruber” Allen, and Thomas F. Wilson

William McKinley High School reunion!

Twelve years after Freaks and Geeks‘ first and last season, the star-studded cast of the cult favorite came together for an exclusive retrospective in Vanity Fair‘s comedy issue, which the show’s executive producer Judd Apatow guest-edited.

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Among the former freaks and geeks who showed up to relive their faux high school days? Now-famous stars Jason Segel, 32, James Franco, 34, Seth Rogen, 30, Busy Philipps, 33, Linda Cardellini, 37, and John Francis Daley, 27 — who sat down with Apatow, creator Paul Feig, and several other cast and crew members to reminisce about the series’ humble beginnings and premature end. (The show was canceled by NBC in 2000 after just 18 episodes.)

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Set in the early 1980s in the fictional town of Chippewa, Mich., the dramedy centered around Cardellini’s character, Lindsay Weir, and her struggle to figure out where in the teen social strata she belonged. The ensemble was full of future stars — but at the time, most of the actors were unknowns getting their first big break.

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“We loved the show,” Segel tells Vanity Fair. “And we took the opportunity really, really seriously.”

“Everybody was so talented and nobody knew it yet,” Cardellini adds. “People would hang out with each other and practice and play and think of things.”

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Indeed, filming the great but doomed series created a bond among the show’s cast that endures even today.

“The show was the kids’ entire life,” Apatow explains. “It was their high school: They’re literally going to school on the set. They’re falling in love on the set. It’s actually happening. And those relationships are still happening; they’re still close.”

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Apatow himself is partly to thank for that. The This Is 40 director has been known to cast the Freaks and Geeks actors and actresses in many of the films he’s produced, including Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad, and Pineapple Express.

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“Whenever I see an opportunity to use any of the people from Freaks and Geeks, I do it,” Apatow adds. “It’s a way of refusing to accept that the show was canceled. In my head, I can look at Knocked Up as just an episode of Seth’s character getting a girl pregnant. All of the movies relate in my mind in that way, as the continuous adventures of those characters.”

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