‘iCarly’ is back and better than ever. Nathan Kress spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about the upcoming finale, Freddie and Carly’s relationship, directing his first ‘iCarly’ episode, and more.
The year 2021 has been full of great TV, and the return of iCarly is in that category. The hit Nickelodeon series was revived nearly a decade after its final episode for a new series on Paramount+. Original characters Carly, Freddie, and Spencer reunited onscreen, much to the delight of millennials everywhere.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Nathan Kress about this next chapter of iCarly, the amazing response from fans, and his iCarly directorial debut. He was even able to tease a little about the upcoming season finale, which he calls “unprecedented.” When it comes to Freddie and Carly’s whole will-they-or-won’t-they, Nathan is open to whatever the future holds. Plus, he revealed what he wants to see in season 2. Read our full Q&A below:
How are you feeling about the response from fans since the revival premiered?
Nathan Kress: Honestly, I remain shocked at the response that we’ve gotten. I remember it was really interesting for us because on the day of the premiere, we were currently in production. We were shooting another episode, and we were just about to wrap up the season. I knew that morning, whatever reaction there was to the show, was going to carry into that entire rest of their production week. I was so scared that it was just going to be this endless stream of people saying ‘What is this? I don’t understand it. It’s all different. I don’t like it.’ I woke up with full-on arrhythmia, rolled over, checked Twitter, and I literally felt like I lost 15 pounds in that moment. Just the fact that people saw what we were trying to do and they resonated with it and they approved of it almost universally… that doesn’t happen. The internet makes a sport out of hating things. The fact that more than 9 out of 10 comments about the show were positive and even ones that weren’t as positive were just constructive criticism about things that they wanted to see in the future, it felt amazing. I felt like I was in an alternate universe. It was insane. It just has continued, which is equally insane. It makes everything just so happy and fun, and it made going to work for those remaining weeks so much more inspiring. And then that fed into the last week of production, which was my directing week. It was extra motivating to know that people were resonating, especially with mentions of the past of iCarly and the history of Carly and Sam. That was something that people really wanted a little bit more explanation on, and that was a big question mark for a lot of people. I was honored to be able to have that as sort of my storyline for the episode that I directed. It was very, very motivating all around for sure and made for a much more enjoyable few weeks.
Was it happenstance that you directed an episode that really reflected on the iCarly past? Or were you part of the conversation from the beginning?
Nathan Kress: It’s funny. It was largely happenstance. It ended up being that the request from me was, ‘If there’s an episode that I’m not in as much of, I would love to direct that one just the first time around to sort of get my feet wet on a brand-new show.’ There’s only been one other circumstance where I acted in an episode and directed the same one, and it was a cameo on Game Shakers, where I was playing myself. So it was a lot easier because it was just me acting like myself. With this, it was the character stuff that I had to make decisions on, and it’s hard being your own director because you have not as much of a backstop during rehearsal for a director to say, ‘No, I know what you’re trying to do, but it’s not playing. How about you do this instead?’ I didn’t have that, so I wanted the first time around to be as minimized as possible in the episode, at least in terms of dialogue and everything, so that I could sort of focus a little bit more on the directing. From now on, I don’t think that matters as much, but it was nice getting to just put a little bit more of the director hat on. It was great because they were really emotional moments for Miranda [Cosgrove] and being able to focus more on that instead was great because that was really pivotal. She did a phenomenal job. We were able to really work on that together, which was fun. You don’t really get many opportunities to do that in multi-cam sitcoms, so it really was kind of a coincidence and happenstance, but I guess I chalked it up more to serendipity.
What was it like directing an episode of a show that really propelled your character and where you got your start? It must have been surreal to bring it all full circle.
Nathan Kress: Absolutely. It was something that I knew that I wanted to do from the beginning, especially just because that’s what my primary focus has been really kind of since the show ended. In 2014 is when I started directing and that’s really been something that I’ve made a point to develop. So I knew that was something that I wanted to bring into it because I knew that there were things that I could do as an actor, especially an actor who was on the old show, to add to the authenticity and the emotion of it. I was honored to be able to have, again, an episode that really provided sort of the fresh soil to do that. But it was very intimidating because I’m used to directing kids who knew who I was from my iCarly days. They kind of would do everything that I say because they knew that I had sort of the track record, and I had been in their shoes. I kind of knew what I was talking about with them. But for these guys, for Miranda and Jerry [Trainor], I grew up with them. They know just as much if not more than I do, so it was much more collaborative. It was a lot of us finding stuff together. Fortunately, we’ve all grown so much as actors and as people in this last decade. We all had a lot to bring to the table, and that’s what’s been so exciting about this show. There’s a lot of depth and a lot of story that we haven’t even scratched the surface on, and there’s so much that you can do with people who you’re very invested in from a very young age, who are now in a completely different phase of life. I think that’s something that people really gravitated toward as a concept for the show, and now we’re very excited about the future seasons.
We’re heading towards the finale. It’s hard to believe that it’s already almost finale time. What can you tease about the season finale?
Nathan Kress: I can definitely say that we’ll be seeing more of Wes, the character that was introduced in my episode. He plays a very pivotal role leading up to the finale. He will be substantial. Also, the Double Dutch character that was introduced in my episode, she will be very substantial. We’re introducing a lot of new dynamics and relationships that were not present in the old show or in the new show. They’re very much going to have a central role in these next couple of episodes. So things are going to get interesting and at least slightly unprecedented in the finale.
Unprecedented for Freddie?
Nathan Kress: For everyone. In lots of ways. We also get to finish the show in a very, very fun, unique set and environment where we’re out in the forest pretty much the whole show, which is fun to do in multi-cam. It’s a very, very new experience for us and kind of reminded us of the Bigfoot episode that we had way back in the old show.
iCarly has already been renewed for a second season. Is there anything you would want to explore with Freddie that maybe you didn’t get to in the first season?
Nathan Kress: That’s kind of the fun thing about where we’re at in this season. It’s a big question mark. Pen has not been put to paper yet, so it’s a very blank slate at this point. I would love to just see continued character development. There’s some stuff in the next two episodes for Freddie specifically where he really gets on a different path with his career. We’ve seen it in the last couple of episodes now where he’s talked about wanting to get back into entrepreneurship. He tried his partnership with his daughter and that didn’t quite shake out the way that it was supposed to, but he actually gets on a little bit of an arc there that pushes him in a positive direction. It was fun at the beginning of the show finding out where everybody landed after the decade, and it was interesting to play a character who has not had really anything good happen to him. He’s just on the outs in general. So I would love to see a little bit of a redemption story for Freddie. He was sort of the underdog in the first season. Moving forward, I’d love to see him kind of grow in his relationship with Millicent, grow in his career, and develop in a positive way where he kind of has some good stuff happen to him. And then I think the stage has been a little bit set for Carly and Freddie’s relationship to — I don’t know how it’s going to develop — but at the very least their friendship and camaraderie I think has been very solidified in recent episodes as well. I don’t know what direction that’s going to go either, but that’s a question that a lot of people are probably asking.
Fans are very passionate about Freddie and Carly given their history. Do you have an opinion about whether or not they should be in a relationship? Would you rather them stay friends or would you like to see the romance?
Nathan Kress: That I guess is the beauty of it right now. I don’t think the powers that be necessarily have a specific plan or preference for them to land on. Maybe there’s a character that we discover later on for either one of our characters that is a great fit, and suddenly this character is very funny and flows very well with the cast for all we know. We have no idea. That’s the fun and exciting thing about this. I don’t think anyone has any preconceived notions about what’s going to happen. I think it’s just going to be very organic. Since 2007, I think at this point we’re the definition of a slow burn if it does go that way. Because this wick has been burning for a long time to the point where you do start to wonder, has there been sort of capitulation in the relationship where they just say, ‘You know what? If it hasn’t happened by now, it’s probably not going to happen.’ They could go that route, I don’t know. They could say, ‘We’re just such good friends. Let’s not do this.’ Or they could say, ‘We’re such good friends. We belong together. We’ve been in each other’s lives for this long. What are we doing?’ There’s an equal possibility that it could go either way. I think that it’s keeping all of us in a level of suspense for sure. I have no spoilers because I have no idea. I think that’s the fun part that we’re all going to get to sort of discover that together.
You have a podcast called RadioActive Dads. How has it been navigating the podcast world with Brett?
Nathan Kress: It felt very foreign at the beginning doing something not so much on camera but just in front of a microphone. Fortunately, Brett is very experienced. He’s been doing a morning show, The Brett Davern Show, on idobi radio for years leading up to us doing this together. That was kind of how the whole thing started. Fortunately, I’ve leaned on him a lot, especially in the beginning to kind of show me the ropes of how it works. But it’s funny because we realized that just any time we got together at an event or someone’s party that we mutually knew, we’d always end up just talking about the same dad stuff. When we’d go to a diner, we’d be talking about dad stuff or our acting adventures and misadventures and just sort of paddling around and having dude time. There was this moment where we were like, ‘If we just had a microphone in between us, this would be a podcast.’ This is just what people are doing now because people want to have something to listen to that is nostalgic for them, give them a behind-the-scenes peek at something that they loved as kids, but then also on the dad’s side of it, we realize there’s not very much content out there. There are dad podcasts, but there’s not very much for young dads who are at the stage that we’re at in newborn, infant, toddler, preschool age. It’s more younger kids and teenagers and stuff. We realized there’s kind of a vacuum there, so getting to do something where we got to provide a little bit of an outlet for other dads as well as ourselves, it’s a therapy session for me. Just to be able to say, ‘I’m dealing with this really frustrating thing right now. Did this happen to you?’ And he goes, ‘Yes, absolutely, and this is what we did about it.’ It’s mostly just us figuring out our own problems on a radio show, and that has been really fun. We’ve gotten great feedback from parents who are in a similar position to us. It also just gives us an opportunity to reconnect with our fans and ask or answer questions that they have. We try to be very involved and sort of dig into the mailbox every episode and have some fan feedback and stuff. We’ve been doing it for almost two years now, and it’s been fantastic. A little harder during a lockdown and doing it remotely. I miss being in person, but it has been fun and just sort of a way to connect with friends but we just happen to do it in the medium of a radio show.
When are we going to get Brett on iCarly?
Nathan Kress: I’ve been trying. I think there’s a role in there for him somewhere. My dream is, because Freddie’s a dad on the show, I would really love it if Freddie had a support group for dads with frustrating children. And then he [Brett] was also a dad in my support group so that it can kind of mirror reality a little bit. I feel like something like that would be kind of fun.