Sam Lerner stars as Geoff Schwartz in ABC’s beloved comedy The Goldbergs. The series takes fans back to the ‘80s and is the perfect family show, filled with comfort, laughs, and plenty of heart. Season nine premieres on Wednesday, September 22 at 8 PM ET.
The season nine premiere revolves around the iconic ‘80s family paying tribute to Pops. Together they venture down memory lane by visiting Pops’ favorite stomping grounds. Adam Goldberg, forever with camera in hand, captures the outing – theming it to “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Hijinks and hilarity ensue, and we are reminded that there is no bond greater than family.
First off, I want to say how excited I was at last season’s finale, when we ended on a really happy note for Geoff and Erica with the proposal. What was your reaction when you read that in the script?
Sam Lerner: Oh man, I was really, really excited because I’ve been on the show since the second season, so being able to build the character to that point — I mean, it started off as just a friend of Barry’s and then year by year, it kind of grew the relationship with Erica. So, it was just really cool, even as like a fan of the show, to kind of see that finally happen. I feel like people really, really wanted that and to see that moment happen was really special.
You led us into our next question perfectly, because you joined the show in season two and now, you’re entering season nine. What has that journey been like for you and how does it feel knowing how loved the show is by viewers and families everywhere?
Yeah, it’s so cool. I really never thought that I would be a part of a show that was on this long. I mean, as an actor, you kind of audition for something and hope to just get one episode, then I look back and it’s like I’ve personally done like over 130 now. So, it’s so bizarre to see that and to feel that that has happened, but I was just talking to Hayley about this actually that I basically spent my entire 20s on the show. I was 21 I believe when I booked it and now I’m 28, I’m turning 29 soon, so it’s just been a crazy ride. It really is such a blessing and I get to work with such amazing people, so I’m really lucky.
I know there’s so many different genres and roles, but how is it to be on a family show? I feel like you reach such a wide audience that way.
Oh, I had no idea and I also feel like I am kind of shielded from it because I live in LA and I rarely leave, so I feel like LA is very much a bubble, where this show I think is mainly watched in Philly, on the East Coast, and maybe in different states. It’s very rare — I could get recognized in LA, but I guess I don’t feel the fandom as much as when we’ve been to like a comic con or we’ve gone to specific Goldbergs related events, but it’s just insane. I mean, you want to obviously work on something that’s successful, but to work on something that is so funny and so beloved by people is really, really cool because I grew up watching sitcoms. I did always want to do that and when I watched shows such as Friends or different sitcoms as a kid, I always felt like I wanted to do them and that I could do that, so to be doing it is like really bizarre, a blessing, and surreal. I went to New York once and a garbage man, when he was on the back of a garbage truck, was like, “Hey, Geoff Schwartz! Let me get a pic!” It was the most New York thing that ever happened, so I just associate that when I’m on the East Coast people might recognize me.
I am so excited for the new season. So, what can you tease for me about that?
Yeah, I mean, I guess I always was hoping that this storyline would happen of us getting engaged because there’s so much that you can do with Beverly planning the wedding. I mean, we’ve only shot like four episodes so far but my storyline has a lot to do with getting ready for the wedding and adjusting to that. So, there’s just been some amazing moments and I mean, that is a really good tease to be honest because just imagine Beverly reacting to planning a wedding for her daughter. It’s gonna be insane. So funny and it’s great.
So how does it feel to have Beverly Goldberg as your smother now?
I know, I know, it’s cool. As a guest star, I didn’t really get to fully experience it, but now that I’m married into the family, I’m basically a schmoopie now.
You filmed season eight during the pandemic, which was such an accomplishment, and now you guys are filming season nine and I’m sure you still have a bunch of safety precautions. How does it feel stepping back on set with everything?
It feels weird but it feels better than last year because we’re all vaccinated now. Last year, it was still in the time of like being unsure and outside of work you have to be very careful because you don’t want to get COVID. I guess Delta is pretty bad right now, but now that we’re vaccinated it’s at least some protection and peace of mind to be able to go back, feel safe and comfortable, but I would say that the actors kind of have it the easiest, it’s the crew that has to keep masks on all day long. I feel like they really feel the brunt of it more than us because we have to be on camera so there are times when we don’t have our masks on and they do our makeup so we can’t really just mess it up with a mask. I would say the actors kind of have the best out of everyone so we’re lucky in that sense but yeah, I would love for the pandemic to be over so it wouldn’t be stressful, but we’re just lucky to have work right now, I would say.
What is one takeaway you hope to carry with you when the show ends?
Oh, I guess like just the positive attitude. I’ll forever be grateful to have worked with nice people. I feel like it’s rare. I’ve actually been acting a while, since I was a child actor but in my adult acting career, I’ve never been on a set with as nice of people and I think that starts with Wendi. She kind of really sets the tone as like the lead on the show. I just have to hope that any other gig I work on is half as amazing as this one is because it’s a real blessing.
Is there anything you would want to take from set with you when you do wrap?
I mean look, if they let me have my outfits, I wear the same jeans in every episode and the same shoes in every episode, then I just wear different polos. So maybe like a few polos, then my jeans and shoes. That would be really cool because it just feels like a part of me now. There’s so many funny props. Maybe, one of Barry’s nunchucks would be cool.
How is it for you getting to film a show set in the ‘80s?
It’s really cool. It’s a little stressful sometimes, you got to be very careful, you can’t ever have an iPhone around, but it’s mostly cool, especially when we do like a fun tribute episode where we’re wearing like a specific outfit from a movie or something. Our costume designers really like match it perfectly. So, I’ve worn the Marty McFly outfit from Back to the Future. When we do get to do like a cool movie tribute it’s always spot on, so yeah it’s really fun and obviously, like Wendi’s character sweaters are always amazing and it’s just fun. I always tell Hayley I think her clothes are really cool and mine are kind of nerdy like she gets to be the cool looking popular girl and I’m like a dweeb.
The tribute episodes are always so much fun to watch. Is there a film that you’re a fan of from that time period and would like to see done that hasn’t been done so far?
Oh man, that’s tough. I mean, I feel like we’ve done like all of them at this point. I know there must be some I haven’t done. Maybe something from like Moonstruck off the top of my head cause I watched that movie once with Jeff Garlin because he really wanted me to watch it. So, I don’t know, maybe those characters like Cher and Nicolas Cage. We’ve done so many it’s like hard to even think of what we could do but I’m sure the writers have ideas.
With the show being set in the ‘80s, what is one present day thing that you would like to see Geoff react to?
Oh my god, like if he could see something from 2021? That’s a really hard question. I don’t know, I feel like Geoff would be blown away by anything, he’s smart sometimes but he’s kind of really dumb sometimes when he’s hanging with Barry. I don’t know, I mean any piece of technology, I feel like you could make a full Geoff and Barry interaction about them freaking out about some sort of technology.
I love the friendship between the JTP, what is it like playing with that dynamic?
Oh, it’s awesome. I mean, like I said, we started the show so long ago, so we’ve become really good friends over the years and just getting to be like complete idiots is really fun. When we get to kind of like answer back right on top of each other, I feel like we have pretty natural chemistry because we’re such good friends now and I don’t know, the JTP are just hilarious. They’re boneheads, they’re always having a good time with something. It’s super fun to play around with Matt, Noah, Shayne, and Troy.
I don’t know how you get through those scenes without laughing. We do a lot. It’s usually Troy that makes us laugh because Troy, especially the last few seasons, will just like completely surprise you with something new in a take when we’re technically not supposed to improvise on the show but he’ll just say something, maybe if he’s off camera and it will like always make us break. I break probably more than anyone.
The show has some really hilarious episodes, I can watch “Dinner With The Goldbergs” on repeat and still laugh every time. What are some of your favorite episodes that no matter how many times you see it, you still laugh?
Oh my god, that one’s really, really great. I’m trying to think… I really liked the premiere of season seven, the one where we go to Disneyland, that one was really fun. I really liked — I never remember the names of them because there’s so many, but the one where the JTP plays football when we got to meet the real JTP. That was really fun and it’s really fun to film. Obviously, it so funny meeting those guys in real life and they’re so similar to the characters, which I think is a testament to Adam Goldberg making all the characters feel so real and accurate in just the way he casted the show, I think it’s really great. Yeah, I feel like those were some that I really, really laughed at. A lot of our Halloween ones make me laugh. The one where we were doing something about Indiana Jones, where’s Adam’s like directing a movie about Spielberg and I had a giant snake on me, that was terrifying.
The premiere episode is going to serve as a tribute episode to George Segal. What was it like to film that?
It was emotional and it was weird when we got the news, but I think it is a really good kind of tribute to him. We all kind of, when we read the script, everyone felt very confident about it because it’s a nice way to acknowledge George and it was emotional to film for sure. Sean and Wendi, I think, kind of took a really hard time with a lot of it, but it’s really beautiful and I’m just lucky that I got to work with George because he was a really, really special guy and obviously, one of the most talented actors ever to live. So, yeah, it’s emotional, but I think it’s gonna be a really great episode and a good premiere into the new season.
What would be a dream storyline for you when it comes to the future of The Goldbergs?
Oh man, I mean, now that we’ve done the proposal and then you can assume a wedding is coming at some point, I think Geoff and Erica having kids would be really kind of interesting and fun. I think it could bring in a new dynamic to the show and I mean, who knows how long this show will go but I think there’s so much that they can do with it, just watching all these young adults become old enough to get married and have kids. I think it would be cool to see Barry’s character get married too. I really don’t know, it just depends on how much more they want to do because I really think these characters are so great and so loved by the fans that I think us doing anything would be really special, but them having kids would be really cool.
Lastly, I am a huge fan of Geoff and Erica’s relationship, so I have to ask you, when did you start rooting for them? And what has been one of your favorite moments?
When did I start shipping them? [Yes, exactly!] I mean, their first kiss was really, really cute. I actually was like flipping channels one day a couple months ago and that was on, and maybe it’s kind of vein of me to watch it, but it was really special to kind of look back at cause it was so long ago. I think maybe around season three or four— I mean, they started teasing it pretty early on that Geoff had a crush on her. I think the first kiss was a really big moment because you knew it was something new, a new dynamic to the show and it was so special for the characters. So, I selfishly wanted this a long time ago, but I would say probably around the kiss or then into like the Dirty Dancing episode type time was when I really started wanting to succeed as a couple.