Freddie Prinze Jr. speaks to PEOPLE about his return to acting in Peacock's Punky Brewster reboot and much more

By Eric Todisco
December 15, 2020 03:53 PM
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Freddie Prinze Jr.
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Freddie Prinze Jr. is reflecting on his decision to take a step back from Hollywood — and opening up about why he came back.

"Yeah, I didn't miss it at all when I walked away," the 44-year-old '90s hearthob, popular for his roles in films like She's All That, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scooby-Doo, tells PEOPLE while promoting his partnership with Kelley Blue Book.

"And the business had changed so much, nothing filmed in L.A. anymore, but maybe four or five projects a year," Prinze Jr. adds.

The actor, who shares daughter Charlotte Grace, 11, and son Rocky James, 8, with wife Sarah Michelle Gellar, says that he wanted to focus more on his family than his career at that point.

"I had kids and not having a dad, it was always more important to me to be a present father," says Prinze Jr., whose father, Freddie Prinze, died in 1977 when Prinze Jr. was less than a year old.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr.
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar
| Credit: Getty

Now, Prinze Jr. is returning to acting for a new "crazy job": Peacock's Punky Brewster reboot, in which he will play Travis, the ex-husband of Soleil Moon Frye's titular character.

"They offered me the role of her ex-husband and it was shooting in L.A. And I read the script and fell in love with it and started singing the song all over again, didn't realize I still remembered the words," he says. "And I said, 'yes!' So I'm back acting, we're shooting our last episode of the season next week."

Prinze Jr. says that he got the call about a role in the highly anticipated reboot from his old friend and fellow actor, Brian Austin Green.

"I've known him forever since he did my sitcom with me back in the day," he says. "And he said, 'Hey man, I know you don't want a job, but I can't do it, I'm doing this other job and I know they would love to hire you. Would you just check out the script?' And I was like, 'For Punky Brewster?' He goes, 'Yeah.' I was like, 'Yeah man, I loved that when I was a little dude.' "

After reading the script, Prinze Jr. decided to accept the offer. "It's all because Brian said, 'Hey, you should read this.' Otherwise, I seriously would have never even looked at it," he says.

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Freddie Prinze Jr.
| Credit: Joseph Viles/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

Outside of his family and latest acting gig, Prinze Jr. stays busy playing the Nintendo Switch video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which contains Kelley Blue Book's exclusive new island, KBB.com HQ. The island's launch is part of the automotive company's 2021 Best Buy Awards.

The island is accessible to fans to explore now through Dec. 17 from 3 p.m. to midnight ET. Players will be able to fish in the oceans and rivers for sea creatures, and the occasional trash items. As players do their part by fishing trash out of the water in-game, Kelley Blue Book will donate funds to American Rivers to help river preservation. 

So how does Prinze Jr.'s wife feel about his avid video game playing?

"She married a gamer, so whether she approves or not, it's pretty much irrelevant," the star jokes of Gellar, 43.